Jobs recovery uncertain for the most fragile workers: New Hires Quality Index

Worker's left hand slips time sheet into punch clock

March 31, 2021

The Upjohn Institute New Hires Quality Index covering February 2021 shows the earnings power of people starting a new job was unchanged at $17.31, near its all-time peak and 1.3 percent above its mark from one year ago. Hiring volume increased slightly for the first time since October, but not enough to signal a strong jobs recovery.

In this month's release, Index creator Brad Hershbein compares trends for full- and part-time workers. From the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the wage index for full-time workers rose just 0.3 percent while that for part-time workers jumped 3.0 percent.
Hiring surged starting last May, following the tremendous job losses of March and April, but more strongly among full-time workers. Hiring volume for full-time workers over the past year is at its highest level in 20 years; for part-time workers, it’s around what it was four years ago.
The sharp rise in the wage index shows that the part-time workers hired in the last 10 months are disproportionately higher-earning ones. Although industries that employ many part-time workers are starting to recover, the share of the earnings power of all new hires held by part-time workers is near a record low.
As of February, Hershbein writes, the data suggest that we are still in an early and uncertain employment recovery, especially for the most fragile workers.

Read the full release or explore the Index.  

Date: March 31, 2021