Some of the well-known hospital chains in United States have temporarily dropped their vaccine mandate. There is legal uncertainty looming around federal requirement that the nation’s 17 million health care workers be vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Soaring Labor Costs

A federal judge has temporarily halted Biden administration’s mandate that the healthcare workers will get the vaccine shots. Therefore, many hospital operators are dropping the vaccine mandates as they are uncertain. HCA Healthcare Inc. HCA and Tenet Healthcare Corp. THC  as well as nonprofits AdventHealth and the Cleveland Clinic are dropping the mandates. In addition, labor costs are getting higher and higher. Hospitals are struggling to retain enough nurses, technicians and even janitors to handle higher hospitalizations in recent months.

Healthcare Workers Burnout

Vaccine mandate is also playing its role as a key factor is constraining the supply of healthcare workers. This is stated by hospital executives, public health authorities and nursing groups. Therefore, hospitals across United States were struggling to find workers specially nurses even prior to pandemic. The shortages were getting higher by burnout the workers are facing in pandemic times. Recently, thousand of nurses have left the industry or lost their jobs as they refused vaccination.

Suspected Rise in COVID Cases

The suspension may cause a rise in the COVIS numbers specially during the holiday season. Therfore, suspending the mandate requirements will make it tougher for the hospitals to meet the federal government’s deadline for vaccinating all eligible staff. Federal officials are appealing a Louisiana judge’s decision to halt their ruling and the case is likely to go to Supreme Court.

The exact number of workers abandoning the mandate is not clear. However, many states, like California and New York, and local governments, like Philadelphia’s, adopted their own edicts. HCA specified that it would continue the requirement at hospitals in places where there is a state mandate. Various large hospitals imposed their own requirement earlier this year after a sharp increase in the Delta variant cases. In short, about 40 percent of the nation’s hospitals mandated vaccinations for staff members.

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Florida’s labor force has increased by around 579,000 through 2021. This represents a 5.8% increase over the twelve months. This number is significantly higher than national rate of 0.5%. The figures are gathered by U.S. Labor Department and Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

Adding 1 of 4 New Jobs Countrywide

The data further reveals that Florida have witnessed 12 consecutive months of labor force growth. Whereas, the month of October marked 18 consecutive months of private-sector job growth. During November 2021, Florida alone added 51,000 out of 210,000 new jobs created across United States. This means that Florida added one out of every four jobs added across United States during November. Florida comprises 6% of the total population of United States. However, it added almost 25% of the total jobs last month which is incredible. Florida’s economy gained 84,500 jobs in the month of September, including nearly 73,000 private-sector jobs, according to the Florida DEO.

Swift Employment Recovery

Job growth in Florida will outpace the national economy and unemployment will continue to decline in 2022. This is according to a new economic forecast for the Sunshine State. Florida’s unemployment rate currently stands at 4.5% during November and is expected to reduce during 2022 as well. The state’s job market is have recovered around 90% from pre-pandemic level and economists are optimistic that a full recovery is not far off.

“We’re a massive country. Over 330 million people. Two hundred thousand jobs, you know, that’s not a lot for the whole country, and of that, for Florida to be over 50,000, you know, it just shows that the policies matter,” DeSantis said in a press conference Friday morning.

Workers Shortage Challenge

Like rest of the country, employers in Florida are facing the challenge of lack of workers. There are plenty of job opportunities but not enough workers to fill those vacant positions. Sectors like leisure and hospitality are still have a long way to go to reach pre-pandemic employment levels. However, sectors like trade and transportation, construction, finance and professional and business services have already exceeded pre-pandemic job numbers.

Florida’s unemployment rate dropped by a tenth of a percent down to 4.5%. Yet it is slightly higher than the national average of 4.2%. Currently there are 483,000 Floridians classified as unemployed.

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Tesla is currently employing 1,536 workers at its South Park Avenue factory in South Buffalo. The company will now avoid $41.2 million penalty.

Tesla Inc. is on track to meet their employment goal at their South Buffalo factory. They are required to have 1,460 jobs in Buffalo by the end of the year. This was part of their agreement with the state in exchange for spending more than $950 million to build and equip the plant. The electric vehicle giant was supposed to meet the hiring deadline in April 2020 and fulfill the mandate of hiring 1,460 workers. They were moving towards the goal of meeting the deadline but Covid-19 hit and they closed their plant.

Tesla has Topped the Employment Goal

As of Nov 10 2021, Tesla reported the employment of 1,536 full-time and 21 part-time employees at the Buffalo plant. Additionally, 704 employees are working at various other locations across the state.  Tesla faces a penalty of $41.2 million for any year that it falls short of its employment target. Although, they were able to get an extension in 2020 and the new deadline is 31st Dec 2021. So technically, this is the first year when they need to meet the target.

The state officials noted that the current employment numbers are not official. The penalty will be based on Tesla’s head count on 31st Dec. However, the numbers of November indicate that the vehicle company is well on track to meet their employment goal.

Buffalo Billion Economic Development Initiative

Tesla’s agreement with the state is part of Buffalo Billion economic development initiative. The agreement only requires the company to have a specific number of jobs in Buffalo. It does not have any provisions regarding the nature of jobs and compensation associated with various jobs.

Tesla’s Expansion at Buffalo Plant

The company is not shifting other type of works to their Buffalo plant. The company is making electronic components for its electric vehicle Superchargers and inverters for some of its battery products. They also hired hundreds of people to work on its autonomous driving programs for electric vehicles. Additionally, at the mid-November employment level, the state subsidies for the Tesla factory work out to more than $620,000 per full-time job.

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A growing number of universities in United States are offering higher wages to the workers. Accordingly, the University System of Maryland will also increase its minimum wage to $15 for most of its employees.

The University System Board of Regents voted to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour for union-represented hourly employees. The change will set in place from Jan 1, 2022. This will be applicable on full time permanent workers across the states’s public higher education system. It includes Maryland’s flagship university in College Park and three historically Black universities. However, the University of Baltimore have already increased hourly wages to $15 in July.

“It’s the right thing to do for the university system because we rely every day on hard-working, highly skilled employees. In this climate, if we don’t pay them a competitive wage, we do risk losing them to other organizations.” The chancellor of the university system Jay Perman said in a statement.

Months Long Struggle by AFSCME

American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) was campaigning for this raise for many months. AFSCME represents 30,000 Maryland state university and private-sector workers. Maryland State increased the minimum hourly wage for state employees in July this year. The university system was the last major state employer offering wages below $15. The latest announcement will benefit more than 500 union workers. Housekeepers, groundskeepers, office staffers and more will see their wages grow. Currently, the minimum hourly wage within the group of public institutions is $12.79, or $26,663 per year.

Pattern Across University Systems

Several other universities have also increased wages this year. Johns Hopkins University and Morgan State University moved this year to pay hourly workers at least $15 an hour. They both are operating outside the state university system. Beyond the Washington region, other schools such as the University of Michigan, University of Kentucky, University of Colorado at Boulder and Case Western Reserve University have also unveiled similar plans.

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2021 is considered as year of the workers in United States. The low wage workers gained significant bargaining power and it forced the employers to raise the wages.

This trend of rising wages does not pertain to few specific industries. Rather, employers across various sectors in United States have increased the wages. Twenty one states and thirty five cities and counties are set to raise their minimum wages on or about New Year’s Day. This is according to a report provided  by the National Employment Law Project (NELP), a worker advocacy group. At the beginning of new year, more than 50 jurisdictions are scheduled to raise their minimum wage rates, many to $15 an hour or more.

A Long Time Demand is Fulfilled

The increases are due to increased cost of living and scheduled raises specified in local minimum wage laws. The lack of movement on the federal minimum wage over the last 12 years has led more states and localities to take matters into their own hands. Fight for $15 which is a labor backed campaign is advocating for higher pay for more than a decade. It is nothing but the post COVID challenge of labor shortage that has forced the employers to pay higher wages. Average wages increased by almost 5% in November. The increase was even more in few industries, like leisure and hospitality. Leisure and hospitality industry witnessed a wage hike almost 14% compared to a year ago.

Increase in Various States

Base hourly pay will climb from $11 to $12 in Illinois and from $9.25 to $10.50 in Delaware. Similarly, the minimum hourly wage will increase from $9.50 to $11 in Virginia, from $12 to $13 in New Jersey. Hourly pay will rise from $10.50 to $11.50 in New Mexico. Some governments will act later in the year. According to NELP, a total of 25 states and 56 localities (a total of 81 jurisdictions) will lift pay floor sometime during 2022.

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Texas workers are quitting jobs in numbers and the job quitting ratio of Texans is higher than any other state. 439,000 Texas workers quit their jobs in September 2021 alone.

September Data is Shocking

Texas is becoming the quitter capital of United States. This is not an accolade for the State but the numbers and data released by Labor of Statistics in presenting this gloomy picture. It took some time to consolidate the final data by the bureau. Significantly, 439,000 workers gave notice at job during September which means that 14,633 workers are leaving their jobs on average per day. Job quitters were just behind 443,000 California workers. However, in revised figures, Texas actually has become Quitter Capital in September. The Texas quitters have racked up to 444,000 as compared to 400,000 Californian job quitters.

Surveys Insights

Employers are already facing the challenge of staff shortage. It is getting difficult for the US employers to retain and attract workforce. They will not like to read the survey conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers. The survey says that 65% of the employees are looking for new jobs. This is a huge percentage and it depicts that 2 out of every 3 workers working for you are looking to switch their job.

Another firm named Robert Half are also tracking this number. Their data show that 41% percent of employees are looking for other job opportunities. This figure is comparatively lower but is still a shocking number for the employers. Texas also led the country for the largest drop in job openings, going from 887,000 in August to 807,000 in September. A lot of people complain those quitters just want to take advantage of unemployment. However, in Texas you cannot claim unemployment if you voluntarily decide to leave your job.

Where are the Workers?

Experts says that some workers managed to take care of their households with lesser resources and they are contended with it. Therefore, they are willing to continue with this pattern and are not willing to get back to work. Others decided to stay home with their kids. Some have quit jobs and have started new businesses. There are cases where workers who have quit and decided to retire early.

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United States is facing staff shortage challenge across various industries. With crippling staff shortage, the role of robots and automation is gaining more importance.

Crippling Labor Shortage in United States

Many industries including leisure and hospitality, retail and healthcare are facing the acute crisis of labor shortage. Hence, companies are finding it difficult to retain and attract workers. However, in these testing times the importance of automations and robotics have gained significant importance. IBM conducted a study recently and it showed that AI-driven intelligent automation in the retail sector alone will leap from 40 percent usage to more than 80 percent in the next three years. Thus, the pendulum is quickly shifting towards automation as a key driver of economic growth.

More Reliance of Artificial Intelligence

It is a long time concern that robots will minimize human intervention and will ultimately replace humans at work. Covid-19 has caused an economic disruption and there is now an increase in remote working culture. In United States robot orders have hit an all-time high as many companies struggle to recruit staff. Factories and industries in North America ordered a record 29,000 robots during the first nine months of 2021. This is an increase of at least 37% as compared to previous year, according to the Association for Advancing Automation (A3).

Employment of fixed-function robots is becoming a norm. it is a common feature of factory production lines helping them to manufacture them everything from cars to food items. According to a report from World Economic Forum, pandemic induced recession along with automation growth is causing a double disruption. Interestingly, this short term Covid driven disruption is promoting the culture of remote working. Therefore, this has accelerated the rate of technology adoption.

Traditional Jobs Will Fade Away

Cloud computing, big data and e-commerce adoption is expected to continue growing in the coming years. By 2025, cloud computing among companies that have taken part in the annual survey is expected to increase by 17% on 2018 levels. AI, machine learning and big data specialist jobs are in high demand. The analysts and scientists that can interpret data. On the other hand, several traditional jobs are disappearing. They include administrative to accounting functions, assembly line work to bank tellers. Above all, the World Economic Forum predicts that automation will create 58 million more jobs than it displaces.

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HCL Technologies announced their plans to create around 12,000 new jobs during the next five years. They are one of the leading technology company which is operating globally.

Rise Program

The company is also launching a US early career and training program named as Rise. They are planning to hire more than 2,000 graduates over the next three years as part of this program. This is also a part of their global New Vista program which is designed to establish innovation and delivery centers in emerging cities across the world.

The tech-giant has also recently launched their Apprentice Program at HCL. The program offers full time tech jobs and fully funded higher education for high school graduates in the US. The company will hire professionals in fields of IT consulting, cloud, data analytics and digital engineering. The recruitment efforts will focus on North Carolina, Texas, California, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and its recently launched global delivery center in Hartford, Conn.

“It’s essentially becoming a global delivery center network and in that scheme of things (being) in the local geography, customer proximity from the point of view of time zone becomes an important aspect of how we plan our delivery”. Ramachandran Sundararajan, Executive Vice President of Human Resources at HCL America Inc, told Reuters ahead of the announcement.

HCL’s Footprint In US

HCL Technologies is employing more than 187,000 employees globally. They have continued their expansion outside of India. HCL are in the United States market for more than 32 years and have a US workforce of 22,000. They have 15 offices in U.S. along with may delivery centers.

In recent times, Indian IT companies like Infosys, TCS, Wipro and HCL Technologies have increased their hiring and L&D initiatives in US. The idea is to offset concerns of outsourcing American jobs. Globally, tech companies are also facing a severe talent crunch. These companies are working with educational institutions and local governments to increase the talent pools through initiatives like Rise.

 

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Delivery companies in United States are facing the challenge of labor shortage. They are finding it difficult to handle their supply chain during the busy holiday season.

Various Jobs Advertisement Methods

Delivery companies are employing various mean to lure the workers. Some of these include job fair, online job boards, help-wanted signs and many other. Worker shortage issue worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic recovery phase. It has hit retail and transportation employers the hardest. It is during the holiday season when they need additional workforce to smoothly carry out their operations. But the hiring is affected badly.

Companies Paying Higher Wages

The package delivery services have advertised the positions for some time. USPS began the advertisement for dozens of new jobs during October. The company tried to attract the workers by offering bonuses to new hires along with retention gifts and prizes. They offered to pay $17 an hour for inside package handlers and $21 an hour to seasonal drivers. They also offered mileage to those willing to drive their own vehicles.

Challenge for USPS

United States Postal Service is also going through a similar crisis. The auditors warned that the nationwide labor shortage will prevent USPS from hiring its planned 45,000 temporary workers. The U.S. postal service managed to meet their seasonal hiring goal past year. But it seems improbable this year in wake of  current worker shortage crisis. USPS currently have more than 1,100 open jobs in their trucking workforce. They are seeking to address that by retraining some employees and putting more mail on fewer trucks.

On the other hand, the U.S. Postal Service reported its performance metrics appeared solid heading into the holidays, and its network was in position to handle the anticipated surge in volume in December. The conversion of 63,000 pre-career employees into career positions. The onboarding of more than 185,000 employees is expected to carry USPS through the holidays. The hiring included backfilling the pre-career positions and a campaign to bring on 40,000 seasonal employees. Additionally, the installation of high-speed package processing equipment in 112 locations is expected to boost daily processing capacity by 4.5 million packages.

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Kellogg’s announced that it will hire new permanent workers for its cereal workers. The purpose is to replace the union employees who are on strike for more than past two months.

October Strike

The Kellogg’s workers began the strike on 5th October 2021. 1400 employees of four cereal plants are on strike since then. The negotiations were going on between the management and the union representatives. Last week, the workers rejected a deal offered to them after two months of negotiations. Considering the unsuccessful negotiations, Kellogg’s management announced that it will hire permanent replacement workers.

Two-Tier Compensation System

BECKY SULLIVAN, BYLINE: Kellogg’s workers are facing many issues which they want to be addresses. However, one of the biggest issue for the striking workers in Kellogg’s two tier compensation system. Employees hired before 2015 are getting higher wages and better benefits as compared to the newly hired workers.  The union, which is called the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers Union says that they want an end to the current system of compensation model. The option they suggest is to at least create a way that newer employees at least get an opportunity to better pay.

Workers Voted Against the Proposed Deal

A couple of weeks back, the union and the company reached a tentative agreement. It was a five-year deal with raises for employees and pathway to move between pay tiers. However, the workers overwhelmingly voted against the deal and it finally was rejected. United States allows employers to permanently replace strikers in many cases. However, the dynamics of the strike and politics of the day will make it tougher for Kellogg’s.

Biden’s Stance

Kellogg’s decision of hiring replacement workers caused an irk at the White House. The federal government is trying hard to provide better opportunities for its workers in attempt to economic recovery. In a rare rebuke of a company, United Stated President Joe Biden termed this move as an existential attack on the union and its members’ jobs and livelihood.

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