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    Job Openings Rose in September Despite Higher Interest Rates

    The labor market has remained stronger than expected even as the Federal Reserve has tried to get inflation under control.The nation’s extreme shortage of job seekers worsened in September, the Labor Department reported Tuesday, after easing the previous month.Employers had 10.7 million positions open as summer ended, up from 10.3 million in August. That left roughly 1.9 posted jobs for every unemployed worker, a persistently high ratio even as the economy appears to be decelerating because the Federal Reserve is working to quell inflation.Pulling down job postings — or holding off on new ones — is usually the first step that employers take as the economy weakens, in hopes that hiring more conservatively could avoid the need to lay people off later. But the labor market has been slow to respond to rising interest rates, even as other indicators point toward an impending recession.The report is the last piece of significant economic data to land before policymakers at the Fed meet on Wednesday, and only reinforces the likely outcome. Most analysts expect the central bank to raise its benchmark interest rate by 0.75 percentage points, even if job openings tumbled in Tuesday’s Labor Department report.“What if all the JOLTS dropped to zero?” said Dana Peterson, chief economist at the Conference Board, using shorthand for the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey. “I don’t think that would cause them to not go 75 basis points, because they’re focused on inflation. They’ve already said there’s going to be some pain, and pain is code for the labor market.”The State of Jobs in the United StatesEconomists have been surprised by recent strength in the labor market, as the Federal Reserve tries to engineer a slowdown and tame inflation.September Jobs Report: Job growth eased slightly in September but remained robust, indicating that the economy was maintaining momentum despite higher interest rates.A Cooling Market?: Unemployment is low and hiring is strong, but there are signs that the red-hot labor market may be coming off its boiling point.Disabled Workers: With Covid prompting more employers to consider remote arrangements, employment has soared among adults with disabilities.A Feast or Famine Career: America’s port truck drivers are a nearly-invisible yet crucial part of the global supply chain. And they are sinking into desperation.The number of open jobs is consistent with surveys of businesses, which have continued to report difficulty hiring. The National Federation of Independent Business found in its September survey that 23 percent of its members planned to create new jobs in the next three months, and of those, 89 percent said they had few qualified applicants.The jump in job openings was largely due to huge increases at hotels and restaurants, which added 215,000 postings. And the health care and social assistance sector was looking for 115,000 more workers than the previous month, reaching 2.1 million openings total, the highest level on record.At the same time, the number of people hired declined to about 6.1 million, continuing a downward slide that began this spring. That could be a consequence of employers having a tougher time finding qualified applicants, or deciding to hold positions open longer as they wait for the economic dust to settle.The number of people quitting their jobs voluntarily, usually a sign that workers have confidence they’ll be able to find a better one, declined slightly to about 4.1 million. As a share of total employment, that was about level with recent months but down from record highs at the end of 2021.Inflation has forced some workers to find ways to increase their earnings — whether by asking for raises or finding other jobs. At the same time, fear of a looming recession has prompted some workers to stay put unless they have another offer in hand.Quitting fell most in industries that are facing the strongest headwinds from higher interest rates and weakening consumer spending, including construction, transportation and warehousing, and manufacturing.The number of layoffs also declined from recent months. That’s in line with the weekly reports of initial claims for unemployment insurance, which have remained near record lows. After hiring aggressively over the past year — and often at higher salaries — employers may be less eager to let people go, even as business wavers.In an August survey of hiring managers by the polling firm Morning Consult, about 57 percent of respondents said they were retaining more employees than they normally would because of how difficult it was to replace people. That may lead to a reversal of the typical “last-in, first-out” pattern that has been common in other downturns.“If you spent a lot of money attracting workers, you don’t want to let them go right away, because then all that money just goes down the drain,” Ms. Peterson said. “Six months later you have to find them again, and they might be asking for a different asking price. You want to keep all your talent, but if you think about it, it’s very expensive to let go of those workers you just hired and invested a lot in.” More

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    Labor Hoarding Could be Good News for the Economy

    PROVO, Utah — Chad Pritchard and his colleagues are trying everything to staff their pizza shop and bistro, and as they do, they have turned to a new tactic: They avoid firing employees at all costs.Infractions that previously would have led to a quick dismissal no longer do at the chef’s two places, Fat Daddy’s Pizzeria and Bistro Provenance. Consistent transportation issues have ceased to be a deal breaker. Workers who show up drunk these days are sent home to sober up.Employers in Provo, a college town at the base of the Rocky Mountains where unemployment is near the lowest in the nation at 1.9 percent, have no room to lose workers. Bistro Provenance, which opened in September, has been unable to hire enough employees to open for lunch at all, or for dinner on Sundays and Mondays. The workers it has are often new to the industry, or young: On a recent Wednesday night, a 17-year-old could be found torching a crème brûlée.Down the street, Mr. Pritchard’s pizza shop is now relying on an outside cleaner to help his thin staff tidy up. And up and down the wide avenue that separates the two restaurants, storefronts display “Help Wanted” signs or announce that the businesses have had to temporarily reduce their hours.Provo’s desperation for workers is an intense version of the labor crunch that has plagued employers nationwide over the past two years — one that has prompted changes in hiring and layoff practices that could have big implications for the U.S. economy. Policymakers are hoping that after struggling through the worst labor shortages America has experienced in at least several decades, employers will be hesitant to lay off workers even when the economy cools.Mr. Pritchard cannot hire enough employees to open the bistro for lunch at all, or for dinner on Sundays or Mondays.That may help prevent the kind of painful recession the Federal Reserve is hoping to avoid as it tries to combat persistent inflation. America’s economy is facing a marked — and intentional — slowdown as the Fed raises interest rates to chill demand and drive down price increases, the kind of pullback that would usually result in notably higher unemployment. But officials are still hoping to achieve a soft landing in which growth moderates without causing widespread job losses. A few have speculated that today’s staffing woes will help them to pull it off, as companies try harder than they have in the past to weather a slowdown without cutting staff.“Businesses that experienced unprecedented challenges restoring or expanding their work forces following the pandemic may be more inclined to make greater efforts to retain their employees than they normally would when facing a slowdown in economic activity,” Lael Brainard, the Fed’s vice chair, said in a recent speech. “This may mean that slowing aggregate demand will lead to a smaller increase in unemployment than we have seen in previous recessions.”For now, the job market remains strong. Employers added 263,000 workers in September, fewer than in recent months but more than was normal before the pandemic. Unemployment is at 3.5 percent, matching the lowest level in 50 years, and average hourly earnings picked up at a solid 5 percent clip compared with a year earlier.But that is expected to change. When the Fed raises interest rates and slows down the economy, it also weakens the labor market. Wage gains slow, paving the way for inflation to cool down, and in the process, unemployment rises — potentially, significantly.The State of Jobs in the United StatesEconomists have been surprised by recent strength in the labor market, as the Federal Reserve tries to engineer a slowdown and tame inflation.September Jobs Report: Job growth eased slightly in September but remained robust, indicating that the economy was maintaining momentum despite higher interest rates.A Cooling Market?: Unemployment is low and hiring is strong, but there are signs that the red-hot labor market may be coming off its boiling point.Factory Jobs: American manufacturers have now added enough jobs to regain all that they shed during the pandemic — and then some.Missing Workers: The labor market appears hot, but the supply of labor has fallen short, holding back the economy. Here is why.In the 1980s, when inflation was faster than it is now and entrenched, the Fed lifted rates drastically to roughly 20 percent and sent unemployment to above 10 percent. Few economists expect an outcome that severe this time since today’s inflation burst has been shorter-lived and rates are not expected to climb nearly as much.Mr. Pritchard demonstrated how to stretch pizza dough in Fat Daddy’s Pizzeria, his other restaurant in Provo.Many of the workers Mr. Pritchard and his business partner, Janine Coons, have hired are new to the industry or young.Still, Fed officials themselves expect unemployment to rise nearly a full percentage point to 4.4 percent next year — and policymakers have admitted that is a mild estimate, given how much they are trying to slow down the economy. Some economists have penciled in worse outcomes. Deutsche Bank, for instance, predicts 5.6 percent joblessness by the end of 2023.Labor hoarding offers a glimmer of hope that could help the Fed’s more benign unemployment forecast to become reality: Employers who are loath to jettison workers may help the labor market to slow down and wage growth to moderate without a spike in joblessness.“Companies are still confronting this enormous churn and losing people, and they don’t know what to do to hang on to people,” said Julia Pollak, chief economist at the career site ZipRecruiter. “They’re definitely hanging on to workers for dear life just because they’re so scarce.”When the job market slows, employers will have recent, firsthand memories of how expensive it can be to recruit, and train, workers. Many employers may enter the slowdown still severely understaffed, particularly in industries like leisure and hospitality that have struggled to hire and retain workers since the start of the pandemic. Those factors may make them less likely to institute layoffs.And after long months of very tight labor markets — there are still nearly two open jobs for every unemployed worker — companies may be hesitant to believe that any uptick in worker availability will last.“There’s a lot of uncertainty about how big of a downturn are we facing,” said Benjamin Friedrich, an associate professor of strategy at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. “You kind of want to be ready when opportunities arise. The way I think about labor hoarding is, it has option value.”Employers in Provo, where unemployment is near the lowest in the nation at 1.9 percent, have no room to lose workers.Instead of firing, businesses may look for other ways to trim costs. Mr. Pritchard in Provo and his business partner, Janine Coons, said that if business fell off, their first resort would be to cut hours. Their second would be taking pay cuts themselves. Firing would be a last resort.The pizzeria didn’t lay off workers during the pandemic, but Mr. Pritchard and Ms. Coons witnessed how punishing it can be to hire — and since all of their competitors have been learning the same lesson, they do not expect them to let go of their employees easily even if demand pulls back.“People aren’t going to fire people,” Mr. Pritchard said.But economists warned that what employers think they will do before a slowdown and what they actually do when they start to experience financial pain could be two different things.The idea that a tight labor market may leave businesses gun-shy about layoffs is untested. Some economists said that they could not recall any other downturn where employers broadly resisted culling their work force.“It would be a pretty notable change to how employers responded in the past,” said Nick Bunker, director of North American economic research for the career site Indeed.And even if they do not fire their full-time employees, companies have been making increased use of temporary or just-in-time help in recent months. Gusto, a small-business payroll and benefits platform, conducted an analysis of its clients and found that the ratio of contractors per employee had increased more than 60 percent since 2019.If the economy slows, gigs for those temporary workers could dry up, prompting them to begin searching for full-time jobs — possibly causing unemployment or underemployment to rise even if nobody is officially fired.Policymakers know a soft landing is a long shot. Jerome H. Powell, the Fed chair, acknowledged during his last news conference that the Fed’s own estimate of how much unemployment might rise in a downturn was a “modest increase in the unemployment rate from a historical perspective, given the expected decline in inflation.”But he also added that “we see the current situation as outside of historical experience.”Bistro Provenance opened in September.Dinner service at the restaurant.The reasons for hope extend beyond labor hoarding. Because job openings are so unusually high right now, policymakers hope that workers can move into available positions even if some firms do begin layoffs as the labor market slows. Companies that have been desperate to hire for months — like Utah State Hospital in Provo — may swoop in to pick up anyone who is displaced.Dallas Earnshaw and his colleagues at the psychiatric hospital have been struggling mightily to hire enough nurse’s aides and other workers, though raising pay and loosening recruitment standards have helped around the edges. Because he cannot hire enough people to expand in needed ways, Mr. Earnshaw is poised to snap up employees if the labor market cools.“We’re desperate,” Mr. Earnshaw said.But for the moment, workers remain hard to find. At the bistro and pizza shop in downtown Provo, what worries Mr. Pritchard is that labor will become so expensive that — combined with rapid ingredient inflation — it will be hard or impossible to make a profit without lifting prices on pizzas or prime rib so much that consumers cannot bear the change.“What scares me most is not the economic slowdown,” he said. “It’s the hiring shortage that we have.” More

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    U.S. Job Growth Eases, but Is Too Strong to Suit Investors

    The gain of 263,000 was shy of recent monthly totals but still robust. Stocks fell on fears of a harder, longer Fed campaign to fight inflation.Job growth eased slightly in September but remained robust, indicating that the economy was maintaining momentum despite higher interest rates. But the strong showing left many investors unhappy because they saw signs that the fight against inflation may become tougher and more prolonged.Employers added 263,000 jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis, the Labor Department said Friday, a decline from 315,000 in August. The number was the lowest since April 2021 but still solid by prepandemic standards. The unemployment rate fell to 3.5 percent, equaling a five-decade low.“If I had just woken up from a really long nap and seen these numbers, I would conclude that we still have one of the strongest job markets that we’ve ever enjoyed,” said Carl Tannenbaum, chief economist at Northern Trust.Officials at the Federal Reserve have been keeping a close eye on hiring and wages as they proceed with a series of rate increases meant to combat inflation. The job data indicates that, for now, they are doing so without tipping the economy into a recession that would throw millions out of work.But it also increases the prospect that the effort to subdue price increases will be more extended. For investors, that came as bad news, since higher interest rates raise costs for companies and weigh on stock prices.The S&P 500 recorded its worst one-day performance since mid-September, falling 2.8 percent and eroding gains from earlier in the week.Fed officials have signaled in speeches this week that they remain resolute in trying to wrestle inflation lower, and that they are waiting for clear evidence that the economy is headed back toward price stability before they pull back.Wage growth has subsided somewhat, at least compared with the trend a year ago. Average hourly earnings climbed 5 percent from a year earlier, roughly matching economists’ expectations but slowing down slightly from the prior annual reading.Wages are still growing, but less rapidly in some sectorsPercent change in earnings for nonmanagers since January 2019 by sector More

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    Job Openings Fell in August, but Turnover Was Little Changed

    Government data showed 10.1 million openings, a decline from 11.2 million in July. Overall hiring, quitting and layoffs were fairly steady.Employers continued to ease off the number of jobs they were hiring for in August, but not by much, adding to the picture of a labor market that’s cooling but still short of available workers.About 10.1 million positions were open at the end of the summer, down from 11.2 million in July, the Labor Department reported Tuesday. That still left 1.7 unemployed workers for each available job, around the highest proportion on record.The job openings rate — calculated by dividing the number of job openings by the sum of employment and open jobs — was 6.2 percent, down from a revised 6.8 percent in July. The number and share of people being hired and leaving their jobs remained about level.Federal Reserve officials have theorized that rather than prompting employers to lay people off, rising interest rates would instead subdue the economy by simply reducing their need for additional workers. So far, that’s happening — but very slowly.“Our perspective is really distorted,” said Diane Swonk, chief economist at the accounting firm KPMG. “It’s still not anything like what we saw prepandemic. It’s cooling from a boil to a rolling simmer. And that’s not enough.”Ms. Swonk referred to data released by the job search website Indeed, which shows a consistently elevated level of new job postings, even though demand for retail workers in particular has leveled off.“They’ve come off their peak, but they’re still plateauing at a high level,” Ms. Swonk said. The share of people quitting their jobs is also an indicator of workers’ confidence that employment opportunities abound. About 4.2 million people gave notice in August, slightly more than during the previous month. That left the rate of people quitting their jobs — the number of people voluntarily leaving their jobs divided by total employment — only slightly below the 3 percent it reached at the end of last year, the highest reading on record.One of the largest drops in openings came in the financial sector, where mortgage brokers have been losing work as rising interest rates are subduing the housing market, although openings in rental and leasing activities rose. Retail openings also dropped, as companies prepared for a softer holiday season.Even while slowing down job postings, companies have been holding on to workers. After rising slightly in the first half of the year, the number of initial claims for unemployment has been trending lower since midsummer as employers have tried to stay fully staffed. In the release by the Labor Department on Tuesday, layoffs ticked up slightly to 1.5 million in August, but remained lower than their historical average.“Simply put, companies slashed payrolls by more than was necessary during the height of the pandemic and are struggling to restore staffing levels to where they were before Covid-19 hit,” Bob Schwartz, an Oxford Economics senior economist, wrote in a note last week. More

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    Less Turnover, Smaller Raises: Hot Job Market May Be Losing Its Sizzle

    Unemployment is low, and hiring is strong. But there are signs that frenzied turnover and rapid wage growth are abating.Last year, Klaussner Home Furnishings was so desperate for workers that it began renting billboards near its headquarters in Asheboro, N.C., to advertise job openings. The steep competition for labor drove wages for employees on the furniture maker’s production floor up 12 to 20 percent. The company began offering $1,000 signing bonuses to sweeten the deal.“Consumer demand was through the roof,” said David Cybulski, Klaussner’s president and chief executive. “We just couldn’t get enough labor fast enough.”But in recent months, Mr. Cybulski has noticed that frenzy die down.Hiring for open positions has gotten easier, he said, and fewer Klaussner workers are leaving for other jobs. The company, which has about 1,100 employees, is testing performance rewards to keep workers happy rather than racing to increase wages. The $1,000 signing bonus ended in the spring.“No one is really chasing employees to the dollar anymore,” he said.By many measures, the labor market is still extraordinarily strong even as fears of a recession loom. The unemployment rate, which stood at 3.7 percent in August, remains near a five-decade low. There are twice as many job openings as unemployed workers available to fill them. Layoffs, despite some high-profile announcements in recent weeks, are close to a record low.But there are signs that the red-hot labor market may be coming off its boiling point.Major employers such as Walmart and Amazon have announced slowdowns in hiring; others, such as FedEx, have frozen hiring altogether.Americans in July quit their jobs at the lowest rate in more than a year, a sign that the period of rapid job switching, sometimes called the Great Resignation, may be nearing its end. Wage growth, which soared as companies competed for workers, has also slowed, particularly in industries like dining and travel where the job market was particularly hot last year.More broadly, many companies around the country say they are finding it less arduous to attract and retain employees — partly because many are paring their hiring plans, and partly because the pool of available workers has grown as more people come off the economy’s sidelines.The labor force grew by more than three-quarters of a million people in August, the biggest gain since the early months of the pandemic. Some executives expect hiring to keep getting easier as the economy slows and layoffs pick up.“Not that I wish ill on any people out there from a layoff perspective or whatever else, but I think there could be an opportunity for us to ramp some of that hiring over the coming months,” Eric Hart, then the chief financial officer at Expedia, told investors on the company’s earnings call in August.Taken together, those signals point to an economic environment in which employers may be regaining some of the leverage they ceded to workers during the pandemic months.The State of Jobs in the United StatesEconomists have been surprised by recent strength in the labor market, as the Federal Reserve tries to engineer a slowdown and tame inflation.August Jobs Report: Job growth slowed in August but stayed solid, suggesting that the labor market recovery remains resilient, even as companies pull back on hiring.Factory Jobs: American manufacturers have now added enough jobs to regain all that they shed during the pandemic — and then some.Missing Workers: The labor market appears hot, but the supply of labor has fallen short, holding back the economy. Here is why.Black Employment: Black workers saw wages and employment rates go up in the wake of the pandemic. But as the Federal Reserve tries to tame inflation, those gains could be eroded.That is bad news for workers, particularly those at the bottom of the pay ladder who have been able to take advantage of the hot labor market to demand higher pay, more flexible schedules and other benefits. With inflation still high, weaker wage growth will mean that more workers will find their standard of living slipping.But for employers — and for policymakers at the Federal Reserve — the calculation looks different. A modest cooling would be welcome after months in which employers struggled to find enough staff to meet strong demand, and in which rapid wage growth contributed to the fastest inflation in decades.Too pronounced a slowdown, however, could lead to a sharp rise in unemployment, which would almost certainly lead to a drop in consumer demand and create a new set of problems for employers.Leila and David Manshoory have struggled for months to recruit workers for their fast-growing skin care and beauty brand, Alleyoop. In recent weeks, however, that has begun to change. They have begun to get more applications from more qualified candidates, some of whom have been laid off by other e-commerce companies. And notably, applicants aren’t demanding the sky-high salaries they were last spring.“I think the tables are turning a little bit,” Mr. Manshoory said. “There are people who need to pay their bills and are realizing there might not be a million jobs out there.”Alleyoop, too, has pared its hiring plans somewhat in preparation for a possible recession. But not too much — Mr. Manshoory said he saw this as a moment to snap up talent that the three-year-old company might struggle to hire in a different economic environment.“You kind of want to lean in when other people are pulling back,” he said. “You just have more selection. There’s a lot of, unfortunately, talented people getting let go from really large companies.”The resilience of the labor market has surprised many economists, who expected companies to pull back on hiring as growth slowed and interest rates rose. Instead, employers have continued adding jobs at a rapid clip.Klaussner Home Furnishings, which has about 1,100 employees, is testing performance rewards to keep workers happy rather than racing to increase wages.Eamon Queeney for The New York Times“There are some signs in the labor market data that there’s been a bit of cooling since the beginning of the year, or even the spring, but it’s not a lot,” said Nick Bunker, director of North American economic research for the career site Indeed. “Maybe the temperature has ticked down a degree or two, but it’s still pretty high.”But Mr. Bunker said there was evidence that the frenzy that characterized the labor market over the past year and a half had begun to die down. Job openings have fallen steadily in Indeed’s data, which is more up to date than the government’s tally.And Mr. Bunker said the decline in voluntary quits was particularly notable because so much recent wage growth had come from workers moving between jobs in search of better pay.Recent research from economists at the Federal Reserve Banks of Dallas and St. Louis found that there had been a huge increase in poaching — companies hiring workers away from other jobs — during the recent hiring boom.If companies become less willing to recruit workers from competitors, and to pay the premium that doing so requires, or if workers become less likely to hop between jobs, that could lead wage growth to ease even if layoffs don’t pick up.There are hints that could be happening. A recent survey from another career site, ZipRecruiter, found that workers had become less confident in their ability to find a job and were putting more emphasis on finding a job they considered secure.“Workers and job seekers are feeling just a little bit less bold, a little bit more concerned about the future availability of jobs, a little bit more concerned about the stability of their own jobs,” said Julia Pollak, chief economist at ZipRecruiter.Some businesses, meanwhile, are becoming a bit less frantic to hire. A survey of small businesses from the National Federation of Independent Business found that while many employers still had open positions, fewer of them expected to fill those jobs in the next three months.More clues about the strength of the labor market could come in the upcoming months, the time of year when companies, including retailers, traditionally ramp up hiring for the holiday season. Walmart said in September that this year it would hire a fraction of the workers it did during the last holiday season.The signs of a cool-down extend even to leisure and hospitality, the sector where hiring challenges have been most acute. Openings in the sector have fallen sharply from the record levels of last year, and hourly earnings growth slowed to less than 9 percent in August from a rate of more than 16 percent last year.Until recently, staffing shortages at Biggby Coffee were so severe that many of the chain’s 300-plus stores had to close early some days, or in some cases not open at all. But while hiring remains a challenge, the pressure has begun to ease, said Mike McFall, the company’s co-founder and co-chief executive. One franchisee recently told him that 22 of his 25 locations were fully staffed and that only one was experiencing a severe shortage.A Biggby Coffee store in Sterling Heights, Mich. Until recently, staffing shortages at some locations were so severe that many of the chain’s 300-plus stores had to close early some days.Sarah Rice for The New York Times“We are definitely feeling the burden is lifting in terms of getting people to take the job,” Mr. McFall said. “We’re getting more applications, we’re getting more people through training now.”The shift is a welcome one for business owners like Mr. McFall. Franchisees have had to raise wages 50 percent or more to attract and retain workers, he said — a cost increase they have offset by raising prices.“The expectation by the consumer is that you are raising prices, and so if you don’t take advantage of that moment, you are going to be in a pickle,” he said, referring to the pressure to increase wages. “So you manage it by raising prices.”So far, Mr. McFall said, higher prices haven’t deterred customers. Still, he said, the period of severe staffing shortages is not without its costs. He has seen a loss in sales, as well as a loss of efficiency and experienced workers. That will take time to rebuild, he said.“When we were in crisis, it was all we were focused on,” he said. “So now that it feels like the crisis is mitigating, that it’s getting a little better, we can now begin to focus on the culture in the stores and try to build that up again.” More

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    In New York City, Pandemic Job Losses Linger

    Even as the country as a whole has recovered all of the jobs it lost during the pandemic, the city is still missing 176,000 — the slowest recovery of any major metropolitan area.The darkest days of the pandemic are far behind New York City. Masks are coming off, Times Square is packed with tourists and Midtown Manhattan lunch spots have growing lines of workers in business suits. Walking around the city, it often feels like 2019 again.But the bustling surface obscures a lingering wound from the pandemic. While the country as a whole has recently regained all of the jobs it lost early in the health crisis, New York City is still missing 176,000, representing the slowest recovery of any major metropolitan area, according to the latest employment data.New York relies more than other cities on international tourists, business travelers and commuters, whose halting return has weighed on the workers who cater to them — from bartenders and baggage handlers, to office cleaners and theater ushers. A majority of the lost private sector jobs have been concentrated in the hospitality and retail industries, traditional pipelines into the work force for younger adults, immigrants and residents without a college degree.By contrast, overall employment in industries that allow for remote work, such as the technology sector, is back at prepandemic levels.The lopsided recovery threatens to deepen inequality in a city where apartment rents are soaring, while the number of residents receiving temporary government assistance has jumped by almost a third since February 2020. As New York emerges from the pandemic, city leaders face the risk of an economic rebound that leaves thousands of blue-collar workers behind.“The real damage here is that many of the industries with the most accessible jobs are the ones that are still struggling to fully recover,” said Jonathan Bowles, the executive director of the Center for an Urban Future, a public policy think tank.New York City was hit particularly hard by the first wave of the virus, prompting business closures and employer vaccine mandates that were among the longest and strictest in the country. Part of the reason for New York’s lagging recovery is that it lost one million jobs in the first two months of the pandemic, the most of any city. More recently, New York City has regained jobs at a rapid clip. The technology sector actually added jobs in the first 18 months of the pandemic, a period when almost every other industry shrank.But job growth slowed this summer in sectors like hotels and restaurants compared with a year ago, while businesses in technology, health care and finance increased employment at a faster pace over the same period, according to an analysis by James Parrott, an economist at the Center for New York City Affairs at the New School.After being laid off from her restaurant job early in the pandemic, Desiree Obando, 35, chose not to return, enrolling instead in community college.Andrew Seng for The New York TimesIn July, the city’s unemployment rate was 6.1 percent, compared with 3.5 percent in the country overall that month.At the height of the pandemic, Ronald Nibbs, 47, was laid off as a cleaner at an office building in Midtown Manhattan, where he had worked for seven years. Mr. Nibbs, his girlfriend and his two children struggled on unemployment benefits and food stamps.He secured temporary positions, but the work was spotty with few people back in offices. He did not want to switch careers, hoping to win his old position back. He began to drink heavily to deal with the anxiety of unemployment.In May, his building finally called him back to work. “When I got that phone call, I wanted to cry,” Mr. Nibbs said.There are 1,250 fewer office cleaners in the city now than there were before the pandemic, according to Local 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union.Last month, New York officials cut their jobs growth forecast for 2022 to 4.3 percent, from 4.9 percent, saying the state was not expected to reach prepandemic levels of employment until 2026. Officials cited the persistence of remote work and the migration of city residents away from the state as a long-term risk to employment levels.The number of tourists visiting New York City this year is expected to rebound to 85 percent of the level in 2019, a year in which a record 66.6 million travelers arrived, according to forecasts from NYC & Company, the city’s official tourism agency.However, according to the agency, visitors to the city are spending less money overall because those who have historically stayed longer — business and international travelers — have not returned at the same rates. This has hurt department stores that depend on high-spending foreign visitors, as well as hotels that rely on business travelers to book conferences and banquets.Ilialy Santos, 47, returned to her job as a room attendant this month at the Paramount Hotel in Times Square, which is reopening for the first time since March 2020. The hotel had been a candidate to be converted into affordable housing, but the plan was opposed by a local union, the New York Hotel and Gaming Trades Council, in order to save jobs.Ms. Santos said she could not find any employment for two years, falling behind every month on her bills. The hotel union provided a $1,000 payment to her landlord to help cover her rent.“I’m excited to be going back to work, getting back to my normal life and becoming more stable,” Ms. Santos said.Despite the city’s elevated unemployment rate, many employers say they are still struggling to find workers, especially in roles that cannot be done remotely. The size of the work force has also dropped, declining by about 300,000 people since February 2020.The number of tourists visiting New York City in 2022 is expected to rebound to 85 percent of the level in 2019, a year in which a record 66.6 million travelers came to the city.Christopher Lee for The New York TimesSome blue-collar employees who lost their jobs early in the pandemic are now holding out for positions that would allow them to work from home.Jade Campbell, 34, has been out of work since March 2020, when the pandemic temporarily shuttered the Old Navy store where she had worked as a sales associate. When the store called her back in the fall, she was in the middle of a difficult pregnancy, with a first-grade son who was struggling to focus during online classes. She decided to stay home, applying for different types of government assistance.Ms. Campbell now lives on her own in Queens without child care support; her children are 1 and 8 years old. She has refused to get vaccinated against Covid-19, a prerequisite in New York City for many in-person jobs. Still, she said she felt optimistic about applying for remote customer service roles after she reached out to Goodwill NYNJ, a nonprofit, for help with her résumé.“I got two kids I know I have to support,” she said. “I can’t really depend on the government to help me out.”At Petri Plumbing & Heating in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, several workers quit over the city’s policy that employees of private businesses be fully vaccinated. The restriction was the most stringent in the country when it was announced in December 2021 at the end of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s term.After Mayor Eric Adams signaled earlier this year that his administration would not enforce the mandate, Michael Petri, the company’s owner, offered to rehire three former workers. One returned, another had found another job and the third had moved to another state, he said.Thanks to a $50 hourly wage and monthly bonuses, current job openings at Petri Plumbing have attracted a flood of applicants. In a shift from before the pandemic, Mr. Petri said he now has to wade through more applicants with no plumbing experience.The strongest candidates often have too many driving infractions to be put on the company’s insurance policy, he said. But recently, Mr. Petri was so desperate to hire a mechanic with too many infractions that he recruited a young worker just to drive him.“This is without a doubt one of the more difficult times we have faced,” said Mr. Petri, whose family started the company in 1906.The disruptions have set the city’s youngest workers back the most. The unemployment rate for workers ages 16 to 24 is 20.7 percent.After graduating from high school in 2020, Simone Ward enrolled in community college but dropped out after a few months, feeling disengaged from online classes.Ms. Ward, 20, signed up for a cooking program with Queens Community House, a nonprofit organization, which allowed her to get a part-time job preparing steak sandwiches at Citi Field during baseball games. But the scheduling was inconsistent, and the job required a 90-minute commute on three subway lines from her home in Brooklyn’s Canarsie neighborhood.She applied for data entry jobs that would allow her to work remotely, but never heard back. She remembered interviewing for a job at an Olive Garden restaurant and recognizing in the moment that she was flailing, her social skills diminished by the isolation of lockdown.“The pandemic feels like it set my life back five steps,” she said. New York officials have cited the persistence of remote work and the migration of workers to other states as long-term risks to employment levels.Hiroko Masuike/The New York TimesFor Desiree Obando, 35, losing her job at a restaurant in Manhattan’s West Village early in the pandemic nudged her to leave the hospitality industry after 12 years. When the restaurant group she used to work for asked her to come back a few months later, she had already enrolled at LaGuardia Community College, returning to school after dropping out twice before, with the goal of becoming a high school counselor.She is now working a part-time job at an education nonprofit that pays $20 an hour, less than her hospitality job. But the work is close to her home in East Harlem, giving her the flexibility to pick up her daughter whenever the school has virus exposures.Ms. Obando is hopeful that she will eventually get an income boost after she completes her master’s degree.“There’s nothing like the pandemic to put things in perspective,” Ms. Obando said. “I made the right choice for me and my family. More

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    From Boom to Gloom: Tech Recruiters Struggle to Find Work

    Seemingly overnight, the tech industry flipped from aggressive growth, hiring sprees, lavish perks and boundless opportunity to layoffs, hiring freezes and doing more with less.Nora Hamada, a 35-year-old who works with recruiters who hire employees for tech companies, is trying to be optimistic. But the change upended her online business, Recruit Rise, which teaches people how to become recruiters and helps them find jobs.In June, after layoffs trickled through tech companies, Ms. Hamada stopped taking new customers and shifted her focus away from high-growth start-ups. “I had to do a 180,” she said. “It was an emotional roller coaster for sure.”Throughout the tech industry, professional hirers — the frontline soldiers in a decade-long war for tech talent — are reeling from a drastic change of fortune.For years during an extraordinary tech boom, recruiters were flush with work. As stock prices, valuations, salaries and growth soared, companies moved quickly to keep up with demand and beat competitors to the best talent. Amy Schultz, a recruiting lead at the design software start-up Canva, marveled on LinkedIn last year that there were more job postings for recruiters in tech — 364,970 — than for software engineers — 342,586.But this year, amid economic uncertainty, tech companies dialed back. Oracle, Tesla and Netflix laid off staff, as did Peloton, Shopify and Redfin. Meta, Google, Microsoft and Intel made plans to slow hiring or freeze it. Coinbase and Twitter rescinded job offers. And more than 580 start-ups laid off nearly 77,000 workers, according to Layoffs.fyi, a crowdsourced site that tracks layoffs.The pain was acute for recruiters. Robinhood, the stock trading app that was hiring so quickly last year that it acquired Binc, an 80-person recruiting firm, underwent two rounds of layoffs this year, cutting more than 1,000 employees.Now some recruiters are adapting from blindly filling open jobs, known as a “butts in seats” strategy, to having “more formative” conversations with companies about their values. Others are cutting their rates as much as 30 percent or taking consulting jobs, internships or part-time roles. At some companies, recruiters are being asked to make sales calls to fill their time.“Companies are being looked at pretty dramatically differently in the investor market or public market, and now they have to pretty quickly adapt,” said Nate Smith, chief executive of Lever, a provider of recruiting software.It is a confusing time for the job market. The unemployment rate remains low, and employees who outlasted the “Great Resignation” of the millions who quit their jobs during the pandemic became accustomed to demanding more flexibility around their schedules and remote working.Nora Hamada’s program for training recruiters, Recruit Rise, grew quickly after she started it last summer.Leah Nash for The New York TimesBut companies are using layoffs and the specter of a recession to assert more control. Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive of Meta, said he was fine with employees’ “self-selection” out of the company as he set a new, relentless pace of work. Some companies have asked employees to move to a headquarters city or leave, which observers say is an indirect way to trim head count without doing layoffs.Plenty of tech companies are still hiring. Many of them expect growth to bounce back, as it did for the tech industry a few months after the initial shock of the pandemic in 2020. But companies are also under pressure to turn a profit, and some are struggling to raise money. So even the best-performing firms are being more careful and taking longer to make offers. For now, recruiting is no longer a top priority.Recruiters know the industry is cyclical, said Bryce Rattner Keithley, founder of Great Team Partners, a talent advisory firm in the San Francisco Bay Area. There’s an expression about gumdrops — or “nice to have” hires — versus painkillers, who are employees that solve an acute problem, she said.“A lot of the gumdrops — that’s where you’re going to see impact,” she said. “You can’t buy as many toys or shiny things.”Ms. Hamada started Recruit Rise in July last year, when recruiting firms were so overbooked that companies had to call in favors for the privilege of their business. Her company aimed to help meet that demand by offering people — typically midcareer professionals — a nine-week training course in recruiting for technical roles.The program grew quickly, forging relationships with prominent venture capital firms and Y Combinator’s Continuity Fund, which helped funnel students from Ms. Hamada’s program into recruiting jobs at high-growth tech start-ups.In May, emails from companies wanting to hire her students started tapering off. The venture firms she worked with began publishing doom-and-gloom blog posts about cutbacks. Then the layoffs started.Ms. Hamada stopped offering new classes to focus on helping existing students find jobs. She scrambled to contact companies outside the tech industry that were hiring tech roles — like banks or retailers — as well as software development agencies and consulting groups.“It was a scary period,” she said.For Jordana Stein, the shift happened on May 19. Her start-up, Enrich, hosts recurring discussion groups for professionals. In recent years, the most popular one was focused on “winning the talent wars” by hiring quickly. Enrich’s virtual events typically filled up with a wait list. But that day, three people showed up, and they didn’t talk about hiring — they talked about layoffs.“All of a sudden, the needs changed,” Ms. Stein, 39, said. Enrich, based in San Francisco, created a new discussion group focused on employee morale during a downturn.Pitch, a software start-up based in Berlin, froze hiring for new roles in the spring. The company’s four recruiters suddenly had little to do, so Pitch directed them to take rotations on other teams, including sales and research.By keeping the recruiters on staff, Pitch will be ready to start growing quickly again if the market rebounds, said Nicholas Mills, the start-up’s president.“Recruiters have a lot of transferable skills,” he said.Lucille Lam, 38, has been a recruiter her entire career. But after her employer, the crypto security start-up Immunefi, slowed its recruiting efforts in the spring, she switched to work in human resources. Instead of managing job listings and sourcing recruits, she began setting up performance review systems and “accountability frameworks” for Immunefi’s employees.“My job morphed heavily,” she said.Ms. Lam said she appreciated the chance to learn new skills. “Now I understand how to do terminations,” she said. “In a market where nobody’s hiring, I’ll still have a valuable skill set.”Matt Turnbull, a co-founder of Turnbull Agency, said at least 15 recruiters had asked him for work in recent months because their networks had dried up. Some offered to charge 10 percent to 30 percent below their normal rates — something he had never seen since starting his agency, which operates from Los Angeles and France, seven years ago.“Many recruiters are desperate now,” he said.Those who are still working have it harder than before. Job candidates often get stuck in holding patterns with companies that have frozen budgets. Others see their offers suddenly rescinded, leading to difficult conversations.“I have to try to be as honest as possible without discouraging them,” Mr. Turnbull said. “That doesn’t make not being not wanted any easier.”At Recruit Rise, Ms. Hamada restarted classes to train recruiters in late August. Steering her students away from start-ups funded by venture capital has shown promise, even if some of them have started with internships or part-time work instead of a full-time gig.Ms. Hamada is hopeful about the new direction, but less so about the tech companies propped by venture capital funding. “They’re not looking that stable right now,” she said. More

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    Job Openings Picked Up in July, Showing the Labor Market Remains Hot

    Demand for workers remained strong in July, a sign that the U.S. labor market remains vibrant even as the Federal Reserve tries to cool the economy by raising interest rates.Job openings ticked up to 11.2 million, the Labor Department reported on Tuesday as part of its monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS.The survey included a large upward revision for openings in June, to 11 million from an estimated 10.7 million. The figure reached a record of more than 11.8 million in March.Substantial aid during the pandemic’s ups-and-downs has kept businesses of all sizes afloat and household finances relatively healthy, resulting in robust demand for a broad variety of goods and services. But the labor force is still smaller than it was before the pandemic, forcing employers to scramble to hire.Openings outnumber unemployed workers by a ratio of two to one.The largest increases in openings were in transportation, warehousing and utilities jobs. In a sign of continued recovery, postings surged in the arts, entertainment and recreation industries, which have greatly benefited from the easing of Covid-19 concerns and restrictions.The State of Jobs in the United StatesEmployment gains in July, which far surpassed expectations, show that the labor market is not slowing despite efforts by the Federal Reserve to cool the economy.July Jobs Report: U.S. employers added 528,000 jobs in the seventh month of the year. The unemployment rate was 3.5 percent, down from 3.6 percent in June.Black Employment: Black workers saw wages and employment rates go up in the wake of the pandemic. But as the Federal Reserve tries to tame inflation, those gains could be eroded.Slow Wage Growth: Pay has been rising rapidly for workers at the top and the bottom. But things haven’t been so positive for all professions, especially pharmacists.Care Worker Shortages: A lack of child care and elder care options is forcing some women to limit their hours or has sidelined them altogether, hurting their career prospects.Several prominent companies announced layoffs this summer. But both the overall rate and number of layoffs have been flat on a monthly basis, while the recently elevated rate of quitting declined only slightly in July, showing that workers remain able to leave jobs they find unsatisfying.There were some signs of weakness, however. The survey found that job openings decreased in durable-goods manufacturing by an estimated 47,000. Some economists say this is unsurprising after the intense consumer demand for goods at the beginning of the pandemic. But it may also be an early mark of tighter financial conditions as a result of the Fed’s bid to rein in price increases.Economists and bank analysts said the report made it likely that the Fed would remain aggressive in raising interest rates, as the central bank tries to weaken the labor market so that wage gains and consumer spending, which have slowed, will dip further in better alignment with the supply-constrained economy.“The job market remains surprisingly resilient to the Fed’s best efforts to cool it off,” said Mark Zandi, the chief economist at Moody’s Analytics. “The Fed desperately wants job growth to slow and unemployment to stabilize, even rise a bit, to quell wage and price pressures.”The Labor Department’s employment report for July was unexpectedly strong, showing a gain of 528,000. Mr. Zandi said the “red hot” JOLTS data would put even greater focus on the August hiring data, due Friday.The demand for labor is particularly remarkable because, based on inflation-adjusted gross domestic product, the economy contracted slightly in the first half of the year. Despite higher prices, the raw amount of goods and services being exchanged remains considerable, fueling demand for labor.“Millions of Americans still can find employment or even trade up to a higher-paying position,” said Robert Frick, an economist at Navy Federal Credit Union. “We may be seeing a second wind for economic growth after high inflation and slowing job growth in the spring.”Some commentators say the data on openings may be somewhat overstated because businesses have little incentive to take down listings, even if the urgency of hiring has waned.And there are signs that the tide may be shifting. A survey of more than 100 chief financial officers by Deloitte, a consulting and financial advisory firm, showed that nearly all of them expected decreases in revenue, hiring and overall expansion in the coming year.Their growth expectations for wages and staffing declined. They expect annual wage growth to be 4.8 percent and personnel growth to be 2.6 percent — both down from 5.3 percent in the previous quarterly survey. The Fed is also making a mark in corporate financing, which can affect hiring capacity or decisions: Roughly one in 10 chief financial officers at public companies viewed debt financing as attractive, down from nine in 10 a year ago.Still, executives remained relatively confident about the prospects for their own businesses, a disconnect that mirrors how consumers have maintained a gloomy economic outlook across the board while people in most income brackets continue to spend at heightened levels. More