It’s rare to be able to analyze in near real-time the impact an event can have on people, businesses, and the economy. The UKG Workforce Activity Report project allows us to do just that: evaluate changes in workplace trends on a week-by-week basis. With the largest index of its kind, we’re able to keep close tabs on what’s going on across the economy, from Main Street to Wall Street.
Our data for the most recent month highlights a remarkable shift in how organizations observed the Juneteenth holiday this year. According to UKG analysis, in 2021, approximately 1.25 million people were given the day off to recognize Juneteenth. For 2022, UKG found a 4-fold increase in this number: approximately 5 million people were able to observe the Juneteenth holiday last month with a day off from work.
While this signals a step in the right direction, Juneteenth still lags well behind other long-established federal holidays with regards to business closures and granting people a day off. Juneteenth observances date back to the 1860s, but it was not recognized as a federal holiday until June 2021.
For example, the 5 million people who were able to observe Juneteenth this year is about a third of the people who receive the day off from work to recognize Presidents’ Day each year. It also pales in comparison to Memorial Day, where widespread business closures afford 10 times the number of people with a day off to reflect.
According to UKG data, Juneteenth recognition is currently concentrated in the public sector, with state and federal government agencies as the first to more broadly adopt the holiday by closing operations. Businesses in manufacturing and the services sector also embraced the holiday more broadly than other industries (though it’s important to note that retail and healthcare workforce activity levels are typically unmoved by most holidays, given their 24/7/365 service models.)
Clearly, there is a long way to go for the private sector to recognize Juneteenth as it does other holidays. However, it’s not often we can establish the baseline for a holiday to track its rate of adoption. UKG, which observes Juneteenth as a holiday, will continue to analyze workforce activity for the holiday in 2023 to report on the progress made around additional private sector adoption.
Each month, UKG releases its Workforce Activity Report. At the onset of the pandemic, UKG began publishing this high frequency index, which analyzes the actual number of shifts being worked by 4 million people on a week-by-week basis to provide a near real-time view of employment trends. The goal is to provide policymakers, business leaders, and economists with the most current information possible to guide decisions. UKG will publish its next July Workforce Activity Report on Tuesday, August 2. To learn more about the Workforce Activity Report, visit UKG.com/workforceactivityreport.