How the pandemic is reshaping labour markets – Financial Times

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The Covid pandemic is changing employment markets around the world, but not always in the same way. It is also altering attitudes to work among employees — with implications for bosses.

Developed countries across Europe and the US have been hit by labour shortages, but the reasons underlying the mismatch of supply and demand are varied and complex, as this Big Read piece explains.

The “great resignation”, where people are retiring early or quitting jobs for a better work-life balance, is a major issue in the US and UK. However, the EU had seen a wave of early retirements during the pandemic because in many countries that was already the norm.

Line chart of Labour force participation rate (%) showing US labour market has failed to recover from the impact of Covid

Labour shortages have been both sector and job specific, and they are not just caused by the pandemic. This piece highlights concern about a lack of mechanics able to understand electric vehicles, skills needed as people switch to greener modes of transport.

Those at the top of organisations have previously benefited in part from a perception that their skills are in short supply. However, remuneration of chief executives in the UK has dropped on average 10 per cent during the pandemic as companies have reined in financial rewards under pressure from investors, according to research by PwC.

Latest news

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Need to know: the economy

Joe Biden has nominated Jay Powell for a second term as the chair of the Federal Reserve, opting for continuity at a delicate time for the US economy with rising inflation and a patchy recovery in the labour market.

Lael Brainard, considered Powell’s fiercest competitor for the top job, was tapped for the role of vice-chair, a position currently held by Richard Clarida. Biden said Powell and Brainard had helped “steer us through the worst downturn in modern American history and put us on the path to recovery”.

Latest for the UK/Europe

European stocks dropped today, after closing lower in the previous session as surging Covid-19 cases led several countries in the bloc to reimpose pandemic restrictions.

Protests broke out in Austria, Italy and Belgium among other European countries over the weekend, after governments stepped up virus restrictions in response to higher numbers of infections.

Cuts to legal aid in the UK are leaving tenants with rent arrears exposed to eviction, according to legal caseworkers.

The head of the UK’s HM Revenue & Customs has said it will struggle to recoup more than half of the estimated £5.8bn it paid out in error or due to fraud from three Covid-19 state support schemes it administered.

Global latest

Global commerce in goods is doing quite well, and there’s little sign yet of Covid fundamentally altering supply chains, according to the Financial Times’s senior trade writer Alan Beattie.

Need to know: business

Bulb, Britain’s seventh largest electricity and gas supplier, has become the latest casualty of the UK’s rapid energy price rises, entering a special administration process that will allow it to be run temporarily while regulators try to find alternative providers to take on its customers.

Booksellers have done better than expected from the pandemic as lockdowns encouraged people to seek refuge in reading and rediscover the joy of shopping in person for a tome. However, leading players in this market, such as Daunt Books, now warn of a shortage of supply in the run-up to Christmas as the industry battles problems from paper shortages to port logjams, as this news analysis piece explains.

Online grocery shopping was transformed by the restrictions created by pandemic lockdowns. Uber has taken the process a step further by adding cannabis to the list of things that can be ordered through its app, although for now it will be pick-up only, and only for customers in Ontario, Canada. From today, users in the province can buy the drug via a new cannabis category in the Uber Eats app, to be picked up within the hour.

The World of Work

One of the challenges for employers has been to encourage staff to return to the workplace.

Boris Johnson weighed into the debate today, using his speech to the CBI annual conference to urge people to return to the workplace for “sound evolutionary reasons”.

The reluctance of workers to heed such advice is of particular concern to office owners. But the issue extends to any business with an interest in getting people back to a corporate workplace as this column by work and careers editor Isabel Berwick explains. You can also listen to a discussion about the topic on Isabel’s Working It podcast.

Covid cases and vaccinations

Total global cases: 257.1m

Total doses given: 7.7bn

Get the latest worldwide picture with our vaccine tracker

And finally…

The much heralded launch of the remastered Get Back film tapes this week has revived Beatlemania for the Spotify and streaming generation. Helen Barrett looks at how the Fab Four changed not just music, but British dress sense.

The Beatles playing on the roof of their offices at Savile Row, London, as part of the filming of Get Back © Ethan A Russell/Apple Corps Ltd

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