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Last Updated: July 22, 2021


While still well below prepandemic rates, labor force participation could rise over the next months as the labor market further recovers and pandemic-related labor supply constraints ease.


The ratio of job openings to hires, a proxy for the average time to fill a position, is now at its highest level in history. Employers are likely to continue to raise wages. The ratio is expected to lower by the end of the year as labor shortages ease.


While the national unemployment rate remains high, The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Survey suggests that it is now historically easy to find a job. Employers will likely continue to struggle to fill job vacancies.


Both the job openings rate and quits rate remain at a high level relative to history. The ratio between job openings and hires, a proxy for time to fill positions, also remains high. Slower than expected employment growth in recent months was likely due, in large part, to recruiting difficulties, and wage growth will likely be strong enough to impact the inflation trajectory.


Professional and office workers in states where many pandemic-related restrictions still exist continue to have high rates of remote work.


Typically, it takes about four to seven years for unemployment to return to its natural rate, measured from the start of a recession. This time, the recovery is likely to be much shorter: unemployment will most likely return to its natural rate in 2022.


Large variations in employment recovery exist across states, with the Northeast and Pacific regions lagging behind.


Employment in the in-person service economy is still well below pre-pandemic levels. Strong job recovery in these industries is expected in the coming year.


Recruiting difficulties remain at a high level, according to the NFIB. Bottlenecks due to the rapid reopening, and supply factors, are causing temporary labor shortages. Many people listed as unemployed are not seriously looking for a job.


Work-from-home rates are gradually declining, but remain very high for college graduates.


Employment in vacation destinations continue to lag behind, but are likely to catch up in the coming months as people go on vacations again.


There is a large variation across demographic groups in the impact of the pandemic on unemployment rates.


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