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Only 10 Percent of Unemployed Workers Urgently Seeking Jobs: Survey

by Charlie McCarthy

Most unemployed workers are not looking actively for a job, according to a new Indeed Hiring Lab survey.

There are about 10 million unemployed workers in the U.S., and more than nine million jobs available, yet only 10% of job seekers say they’re looking actively and urgently, Axios reported Wednesday. About 15% say they’re looking actively but not urgently.

About 45% said they’re looking passively for employment, and another 30% say they plan to find a job soon but aren’t looking currently, the survey found.

One issue is that many jobs are in low-wage sectors such as the service industry, which is struggling to find workers while it bounces back from the pandemic.

“These jobs are not very good,” Steven Fazzari, an economist at the Washington University in St. Louis, told Axios. “They’re hard work, and they don’t pay very well.”

Unemployment insurance, expanded during the pandemic, has provided low-wage workers with temporary bargaining power, Axios said.

“They might be able to pay the rent or pay the utility bill without that job” and hold out for better pay or benefits, Fazzari told Axios.

Indeed’s survey found that workers without college degrees cited reasons for delaying a job search. They included:

  • Around 25% are afraid of COVID-19, and are waiting for vaccination rates to climb before returning to work.
  • More than 20% said their spouse working allowed them to take time in finding a job.
  • More than 20% say they have a financial cushion, with about 12% saying unemployment insurance allows them to wait before returning to work.
  • 20% of lower-wage workers are staying home due to childcare responsibilities.

Indeed found that increased vaccinations is among the most frequently cited milestones for people with and without college degrees, but it’s the most common reason among those with at least a college degree.

The end of enhanced unemployment benefits payments and depletion of savings appear to be bigger factors for unemployed workers without degrees.

Not everybody sees the current landscape as becoming permanent.

“I’m really skeptical that what we’re seeing is the start of a new era of worker bargaining power,” said Indeed economist Nick Bunker, who added wage hikes and benefits could decrease in the fall as circumstances, such as expanded unemployment benefits, change.

Federal pandemic relief boosted weekly unemployment payments by $300 a person and extended those payments for as long as 18 months, well longer than the typical 26 weeks or less. Those benefits are set to expire in early September, but states can opt out before then, the Wall Street Journal said.

Many states already have ended pandemic unemployment insurance, and others plan to do so.

WSJ, based on an analysis from the firm Jefferies, reported that states that have ended unemployment benefits have lower rates of unemployment than those that have not.

“You’re starting to see a response to these programs ending,” Aneta Markowska, Jefferies’ chief financial economist, told WSJ. “Employers were having to compete with the government handing out money, and that makes it very hard to attract workers.”

Also, more parents are expected to seek work with schools preparing to reopen fully reopen.

Indeed surveyed 5,000 people in the U.S. ages 18-64. The sample included both employed and jobless workers.

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