The labor shortage in America has done little to increase opportunities for workers

T.He is epidemic Has fundamentally transformed the American workplace. More people are working from home than ever before. Meetings have gone from office to screen. Employees are quitting their jobs in groups, pushing job vacancies to record heights. In the midst of a massive labor crisis, companies are offering wage increases and bonuses to attract workers. But what about other benefits, which make up a large portion of employees’ overall compensation? If you listen to bosses, firms have expanded benefit plans in the event of an epidemic, providing workers with more flexible time, emergency sick leave and mental-health services. However, official figures show only marginal gains in marginal benefits since the onset of the epidemic. Although the cost of non-wage compensation for low-wage workers has risen sharply for better-paid workers compared to last year, inequality at the legislative level remains widespread.

Listen to this story.
Enjoy more audio and podcasts iOS Or Android

Your browser

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, health insurance, paid leave, pensions and other “fringe” benefits offered by private sector companies accounted for 29% of total compensation, up from an average of 20% in 2021 and 1970%.BLS) If benefits like free meals are included, the number will be even higher. Although they are difficult to measure, benefits such as flexible working hours are valuable. Harvard Medical School, University of California, Los Angeles, and RAND The corporation analyzed survey data and concluded that the freedom to set your own schedule is worth a 9% pay increase, and the ability to work from home is worth a 4.1% increase.

But such benefits, like many wages, are unequally distributed. About 94% of private-sector workers in the top quarter of income distribution have access to health insurance from their employer, compared to only 40% of workers in the bottom quarter. BLS. Similar inequalities exist for life insurance (84% v 25%), retirement benefits (90% v 44%) and paid sick leave (94% v 52%). Differences in working conditions make things even more one-sided, according to new research from Jason Skin of the University of Pennsylvania. Using Glassdoor’s data, a website that allows users to post anonymous reviews of their employers, Mr. Sakin finds that higher-paying companies offer better opportunities, further increasing labor-market inequality.

Efforts to improve facilities during the epidemic seem to have done little to extend the provision to more workers. The latest national compensation survey BLS Access to paid sick and family vacations in private companies has increased by an average of only four and five percentage points, respectively, between March 2019 and March 2021, respectively. Flexible work time, defined as the freedom to set your own schedule, extends by only three percentage points. Peter Capelli of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania says that although some companies have introduced signing bonuses and free university tuition to attract employees, they are reluctant to shell out expensive benefits. “I think they’re really preventing them from moving to an advantage that’s going to cost them a lot more than anything else,” Mr Capley said.

Although access to benefits has changed slightly, the specialties for some recipients are at least becoming more generous. Every year BLS Tots up the cost of employee compensation costs. In 2021, employees in the bottom tenth enjoyed a 9.2% increase in the actual value of benefits, on average, the largest increase since the first data collection in 2009. In the 12 months ending September 2021, the average benefit for service-sector workers, including cooks, caretakers and cleaners, increased by 3.3%, compared to 2.6% for the entire workforce.

It is hoped that such growth will continue if there is a shortage of labor. Mr Sakin said workers were also taking stock: “I think the epidemic has led workers to recognize that they want more than just wages.” But for someone in the lower tenths of the income distribution, the benefit rate is less than $ 3 per hour, compared to $ 25 for someone in the top 10%, the gap that needs to be closed is really huge. 3

For more expert analysis of the biggest stories in economics, business and markets, sign up for our weekly newsletter Money Talks.

This article was published in the section “Finance and Economics” in the print edition under the title “On the French”.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.