UKG Workforce Activity Report: Shift Work Data Suggests Tame Jobs Growth in May

June 2, 2021, LOWELL, Mass., and WESTON, Fla.

National Overview:
High-frequency shift work1 data from UKG (Ultimate Kronos Group) increased 0.1% during May’s critical mid-month week utilized by the Department of Labor to calculate employment gains. Given this, the UKG Workforce Activity Report indicates slightly improved job creation in May when compared with April.

Dave Gilbertson, vice president, UKG (Ultimate Kronos Group)
“Despite challenges, many people have adapted to atypical schooling and childcare arrangements, budgeting for a reduced income, and generally doing more with less. This resiliency allows many to hold out a few more months before returning to work. We expect those folks will use this summer to enjoy a sense of social normalcy to emotionally recharge, with a rapid acceleration in new employment come fall.”

Recovery Scale:
The UKG Workforce Recovery Scale — which compares today’s shift volume versus pre-pandemic levels — now sits at 85.3. With more than 8 million people still unemployed due to the pandemic, it remains 14.7 points below February 2020.

Closure Rates:
Approximately 14% of U.S. businesses remain indefinitely closed due to the pandemic. Closures are more pronounced among small businesses with fewer than 100 employees (16%) than those with up to 5,000 employees (5%).

Business Size:
Between mid-April and mid-May, larger businesses continued to lead shift volume growth. Smaller businesses struggled to ramp up operations in response to relaxed state guidelines or respond to changing market conditions, such as supply chain disruptions. Shift volume changes for the month:

  • Fewer than 100 employees: -0.6%
  • 101-500: -0.2%
  • 501-1,000: 0.6%
  • 1,001-2,500: -0.7%
  • 2,501-5,000: 4.2%
  • More than 5,000: 1.7%

Industry Analysis:
Industries that have historically supported summertime tourism saw growth in shift volume between mid-April and mid-May, while manufacturing struggled:

  • Services and distribution: 1.5%
  • Public sector and nonprofit: 1.1%
  • Retail, hospitality, and food service: 0.4%
  • Manufacturing: -2%

The UKG Workforce Activity Report is a high-frequency index of U.S. shift volume spanning 3.3 million employees across 35,000 organizations. It measures how often employees are working week by week compared with February 2020.

Supporting Resources:

About UKG

At UKG (Ultimate Kronos Group), our purpose is people. Built from a merger that created one of the largest cloud companies in the world, UKG believes organizations succeed when they focus on their people. As a leading global provider of HCM, payroll, HR service delivery, and workforce management solutions, UKG delivers award-winning Pro, Dimensions, and Ready solutions to help tens of thousands of organizations across geographies and in every industry drive better business outcomes, improve HR effectiveness, streamline the payroll process, and help make work a better, more connected experience for everyone. UKG has 13,000 employees around the globe and is known for an inclusive workplace culture. The company has earned numerous awards for culture, products, and services, including consecutive years on Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For list. To learn more, visit

Footnote 1: “Shifts worked” is a total derived from aggregated employee time and attendance data and reflects the number of times that employees, especially those who are paid hourly or must be physically present at a workplace to perform their jobs, “clock in” and “clock out” via a time clock, mobile app, computer, or other device at the beginning and end of each shift.

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