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Will the Labor Market Hold Strong Heading into Summer?

A female retail shop owner contributes to the uptick in workforce activity for June

Each month, UKG releases its Workforce Activity Report. This upcoming report will be the 45th published by UKG on the state of the economy since April 2020. 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.

For this month, early indicators show the labor market is holding strong heading into summer, with a slight acceleration in workforce activity through mid-June, leading UKG to expect slight growth in job creation for the month. This would come as a surprise considering the continued headwinds (such as soaring gas prices and low unemployment) and efforts by the Federal Reserve (e.g., interest rate hikes) to bring the economy in for a soft landing as inflation continues to run rampant.

We’re sharing our analysis, which will be released at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, July 5, during a live market briefing. Here’s a first look at what we’re seeing:

  • Growth in Workforce Activity: We saw a second consecutive week of slightly growing workforce activity as measured by the number of shifts worked by people in the U.S. Overall, 0.8% more shifts were worked in June than May. This may not seem like a lot, but it’s notable growth, especially given the continued declines experienced in May (-1.0%), April (-0.6%), and March (-0.6%).
  • A Jump in Retail: Just as surprising, we saw the retail sector jump up to land slightly behind the seasonal growth we saw in retail last year. Until now, we have seen a sustained decline in retail workforce activity since the start of the year. This month is the first indicator of any strength in the retail sector in 2022. UKG believes the uptick can be attributed to anticipated consumer demand for the summer season as retailers make the decision to staff up.
  • Continued Struggles in Healthcare: Healthcare was the only sector to see negative growth. It will take years for healthcare to recover from the sustained, long-term declines caused by the mass exodus of caregivers from the sector over the past two years.

While there are still challenges ahead for certain industries, such as healthcare, overall, June showed positive job growth in areas such as retail, manufacturing, and general workforce activity.

For more in-depth analysis, register for our live marketing briefing at 10 a.m. ET on Tuesday, July 5, when UKG will issue its complete UKG Workforce Activity Report for June 2022.