With restrictions easing up in light of the increasing number of vaccinated individuals throughout the country, lower-wage workers find themselves in a better place than they were this time last year.

The relaxation of restrictions in many areas is spurring on the revitalization of the economy. Businesses that were closed throughout much of 2020 due to COVID-19 are now reopening and hiring new staff for their operations. 

Companies on a hiring spree

According to Jim Baird, chief information officer at Plante Moran Financial Advisers, most of the companies currently on a hiring spree belong to the food and beverage, hospitality, and retail industries. With malls opening up, many Americans are rediscovering the pleasures of dining out and going shopping. 

Staycations at leading hotels and resorts are also an option now for those who have been cooped indoors since the first quarter of 2020. As a result, there has been a marked increase in employment among these sectors.

As of the end of the first half of 2021, the combined increase in manpower for restaurants and hospitality venues was pegged at 343,000 jobs. Industry experts note, however, that the figure is adjusted for the season, given how we are currently in the middle of the vacation months. 

Hospitality, retail, and service industries top gainers

The hospitality industry is actually the single biggest contributor to the ongoing employment boom, having opened more than 50% of the 3.3 million jobs offered throughout the past six months.

Retail is another strong gainer. Stores and boutiques were responsible for 67,000 of new employment opportunities generated in June 2021. This is primarily due to an uptick in the sale of clothing, particularly now that many people who have been working from home over the past year are gradually returning to full-time office work.

There has also been an increase in the number of workers in the personal services sector which is up by 29,000 as of the end of June 2021. This sector includes spas and salons, dry cleaning and laundry services, as well as tailoring services.

Higher pay offered

Another positive development related to the ongoing employment boom is that many employers are now offering higher pay for new employees, resulting in substantial payroll gains at the end of the first half of 2021. 

For instance, the food service industry appears willing to “pay almost anything” to recruit workers. According to SVS Group chief executive Eugene Lupario, restaurant wages have jumped to $20 an hour to only $15 an hour pre-pandemic rate. Employers are also more than willing to pay overtime.

However, many workers are not biting. While there is no want of job opportunities, workers are preferring customer service jobs that allow them to work from home.

Still, these are positive developments for America’s blue-collar workers. Coupled with the way several states are voluntarily increasing minimum wage rates within their jurisdiction, lower-wage earners stand to enjoy a better quality of life as, hopefully, the pandemic begins to wane.