(The Center Square) – With the labor force participation rate down to one of its lowest levels in decades at 62.4%, businesses in some states are still finding it challenging to hire workers in the aftermath of the lingering COVID-19 pandemic.
At the height of the pandemic, millions of Americans lost their jobs amid stay-at-home orders.
While those jobs have returned, many Americans are still quitting their jobs in record numbers in what’s become known as the “The Great Resignation.” As a result, businesses continue to struggle to hire enough workers, making delays in services and reduced business hours almost commonplace across the landscape.
A recent WalletHub survey finds topping the list of states struggling to turn the corner in terms of hiring hire are Alaska, West Virginia, Louisiana, Montana and Iowa. As part of its research, the personal finance website compared all 50 states and the District of Columbia based on the rate of job openings for both the latest month and the past 12 months.
While WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez stresses that the report only looked at job opening rates and did not delve into reasons behind them in each state, she told The Center Square “we can say that the states that have the lowest difficulties in hiring are those where employers are able to offer the flexibility and benefits that employees are looking for. These may include higher wages or the possibility to work from home or remote.”
Gonzalez’s advice to businesses still struggling with staffing issues is to make things more about the worker.
“Employers from the states with the biggest hiring struggles should increase the wages and improve the benefits they offer,” she said. “For example, they could allow work from home where possible. Being able to provide a work environment that values employees is a key factor in improving the hiring outlook.”
As for what it’ll take to return the labor force market back to its pre-COVID days, Gonzalez has an equally clear view.
“It will take time,” she said. “For prime-age workers, the labor force participation rate has seen recovery. However, the main reason for this rate dropping was the large number of people who retired when the pandemic came, both expectedly and unexpectedly.