In the United States, companies are desperately looking for workers and are not convinced.


Recruiters raise salary proposals and propose better terms shortly into the holiday season. Still, millions of people have reassessed their priorities during the pandemic, preferring to wait for better offers.

To keep the newly opened beer tasting room in New York State running, Peter Chekijian has no choice but to have his key employees work seven days a week. Unfortunately, you have trouble hiring staff to lighten the load.

Production at the breweries remains in trouble as subcontractors also have labor issues.

"It's a big problem to find people to finish the job," this owner of the small Twin Fork Beer brewery told AFP. Many companies are currently having trouble recruiting staff in the United States.

More than 10 million jobs were vacant at the end of August. And the activity rate, that is, the part of people who work or seek employment, has gone from 63.3% before the pandemic to 61.6% in September.

The reasons are various. Some people fear getting the coronavirus, particularly if they have children or older adults at home.

Others have retired early during the pandemic; others prefer to change the balance between private and professional life or are fed up with low wages. Unemployment benefits ended in September, but that did not precipitate a rise in employment numbers.

"What we're seeing is that people who have been out of work for a long time - in some cases a year or more - weren't sitting by their phones waiting for the boss to call them back. Instead, they have found ways to get ahead, cutting expenses, moving in with relatives, especially parents. So they think, 'I've been out of work all this time, I could wait a little longer to see what opens,'" Peter Cappelli, a professor of management at the Wharton School and author of books on human resources.

- "Absolute war" -

At the same time, with the vaccination campaign, restaurants, tourist places, and shows have reopened. And now, all dealers are gearing up for the holiday season.

"There are a lot of employers trying to recruit at the same time," says Aaron Sojourner, an economist at the University of Minnesota. "This creates an imbalance."

To attract candidates," we seek to pay as much as we can (...), offer a package of social benefits," says Chekijan. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to be enough to attract workers. You put up ads, do interviews, go to job fairs. But "it's slow." And this "undoubtedly" slows down the growth of the company, he says.

For Maryclaire Hammond, head of human resources at the logistics company GXO, which seeks to recruit 9,000 people for the Christmas season in the United States, "there is strong competition at all levels (...), an absolute war."

To ensure packages are delivered in time for Christmas, large companies try to recruit temps at full throttle: 150,000 at Amazon, 150,000 at Walmart, 100,000 at Target, 100,000 at UPS, 90,000 at FedEx ...

"I hope employers discover some things that workers want that cost nothing, like giving employees more control over when and how to do their jobs," Cappelli added.

- Robots and burritos -

GXO is short of packers and handlers. To recruit, the company uses personalized advertising on the internet and social networks, advertising panels, job fairs.

In some regions, it has increased its minimum wage from 3 to 5 dollars in the last eight days, offers hiring bonuses as well as a set of benefits (health insurance, contributions to the pension system, assumes university expenses). But above all you have to encourage people to stay, says Hammond.

"The current workforce is quite volatile. If the neighboring store proposes a dollar more per hour, they will change", he explains.

The company tries to create a good atmosphere in the warehouse. "It may seem silly, but proposing good burritos in the morning motivates people," says the person in charge.

To cope, GXO has also increased task automation in its warehouses by 40% in the last year. "For packaging operators who must walk up to 10 miles a day in the warehouse, a robot can help them find products more easily," explains Hammond.

Looking for a full-time clerical job, Staci Weinsheimer, 44, feels the wind blowing in her favor.

"I have a lot of interviews, a lot of positive responses from employers," he explains after finding several companies at a job fair attended by 27 hospitality and catering companies in Melville, New York State. "There are a lot of different positions available that maybe weren't open five or six years ago," he says.

Some unemployed still have trouble getting an interview or doubt the actual willingness of companies to make efforts.

"Employers could spend more money to attract candidates and improve working conditions. Those who do find it easier" says Aaron Sojourner. "But many employers are reluctant to raise wages because it reduces their benefits and forces them to raise everyone," he says. Instead, some prefer to pay more for overtime.

The staffing shortage persists well beyond what many economists predicted, adding to the mystery surrounding what happens to the job market. There is an almost unprecedented number of job openings, but unemployment remains high. There are 5 million fewer people employed than before the pandemic. Despite this, labor market growth slowed in August and September.

A record number of people, on the other hand, left their jobs in August with the prospect of getting better.

- It was not the fault of the subsidies -

Republican businessmen and governors said it was vital that the government remove a $ 300-a-week subsidy for unemployed people to combat the staff shortage that plagues many businesses and small businesses.

Three months after half the states took that step, however, that is not happening.

In the states that eliminated the subsidy, the increase in the workforce (the number of people who have or are looking for a job) was similar to that in the states that kept the subsidy. Aid from the national government and other assistance programs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic were cut off on September 6. However, the workforce declined that month.

"There was too much hope that the removal of subsidies would strengthen the job market," said Fiona Grieg, managing director of the JPMorgan Chase Institute, who used information from the bank to analyze the issue. "The impact (of the removal of aid) was minimal."