Employer hiring will increase by 3% in the first quarter of 2021, according to a survey by the Manpower Group of 419 employers. This is an improvement over the forecast for the previous quarter, when employers predicted that they would reduce hiring by 2%. However, compared to the first quarter of 2019, this is still a decline.
The survey found that some 10% of employers anticipated increasing their workforce, 71% anticipate no change, 7% anticipate a reduction in hiring and 12% didn’t know how to answer.
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Large employers expected to reduce their staff by 4%, while medium and small employers expected to expand their work forces by 8% and 7%, respectively.
“Even though we’re still in the middle of this unusual situation, the economy and employers are leaving their state of freeze,” says Michal Dan-Harel, CEO of Manpower Israel. “Employers have started mapping the situation, started trying to redefine themselves, create new workflows and find new tools to handle the situation.”
The slight increase in hiring expectations comes as Israel’s jobless figure shrunk slightly, to 14.6% of the workforce in the second half of November, versus 18% in the second half of October. Restrictions put in place to control the spread of the coronavirus were relaxed somewhat in November, and the education system has been slowly resuming operation as well. Any return to restrictions could put thousands out of work again.
Furthermore, vaccines are coming closer to being a reality. However, many employers still don’t believe that the pandemic is on its way to disappearing, and they’re preparing for a new coronavirus routine.
“No business that I spoke to said they expected the virus to disappear and business to go back to usual,” says Dan-Harel. “There is testing, there will be vaccines. A new form of work is being drafted, and we’re learning to live with this,” says Dan-Harel.
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Manpower found that 10% of employers predict that their workforces will resume to their pre-pandemic levels within three months. Another 11% said it would take four to nine months, 12% said sometime in 2021, and another 30% said they’d never go back to their pre-pandemic workforces. Another 26% said they couldn’t answer.
“Even the employers who think that things will revert to how they were before believe that it will take a long time,” says Dan-Harel. “Employers don’t believe that vaccines will be a magic medicine and that everyone will be back to working without restrictions. The vaccines can’t be given to everyone, there are entire groups for whom the vaccines haven’t been tested – such as children – so parts of the population will still be vulnerable. All forecasts for growth take into account the ongoing pandemic.”
Some of the hardest-hit industries are expecting a recovery. The restaurant and hotel industry is expecting to increase hiring by 19%, for example. “This is an increase relative to the previous period, and it was enabled partly by enabling restaurants to offer takeout service, by enabling Eilat and the Dead Sea to reopen their hotels, and by opening museums,” says Dan-Harel. “Even when only some of the hotels are open, there’s a significant gain in employment expectations, since employment was so low in the previous quarter. This doesn’t mean that tourism is flourishing – there are still entire industries that aren’t working – but there’s cautious optimism.”
Businesses that have managed to survive built a different cost-revenue model, and adopted new methodologies, such as selling products suited to the situation, she says. “Restaurants that didn’t offer takeout before are now offering only takeout, which means they had to revamp their dishes and limit their menu. On the other hand, there are a ton of businesses that haven’t manage to do this, aren’t enabling their former customers to buy from them online, and have been badly hit.”
Mothers among the hardest hit
Mothers are among the hardest hit when it comes to job losses during the pandemic. A recent report by Prof. Michal Grinstein-Weiss of Washington University’s School of Social Work measures just how bad the damage has been.
Some 17% of mothers with children aged 14 or younger who worked before the crisis began – approximately one out of six – reported to Grinstein-Weiss that they were no longer working because they were fired or put on unpaid leave. This held true for both June and September.
In comparison, only 7% of fathers with children in the same age range were unemployed as of June, and 9% as of September.
The survey included 2,300 Israeli respondents.
Some 47% of the mothers reported that they had trouble finding childcare, and this decreased their chances of finding new work by 37%, the report found.
The study found that the emotional wellbeing of mothers and working women worsened as the pandemic progressed. In June, some 25% of working mothers with younger children reported that their emotional state was “reasonable” or “bad,” a figure that increased to 28% by September. Working women with grown children, or no children, were actually worse off, with 32% reporting by September that they felt “reasonable” or “bad.”
In September, 39% of working women reported feeling depressed, and 51% reported feeling anxiety.