Welcome to the Small Business Weekly Rundown. Each week, we bring you stories and trends that impact small business owners and their workforce.
Small Business News Highlights:
- Unemployment rate drops to pre-pandemic levels in Oregon
- Workplace COVID-19 guidelines don’t apply to most U.S. businesses
- Retail sales dip last month
- Senate passes legislation to make Juneteenth a federal holiday as more companies make it a paid holiday
- Teen unemployment rate falls to lowest levels since 1953
Unemployment rate drops to pre-pandemic levels in Oregon
“Leisure and hospitality has packed as much hiring into five months as it did over the course of five years (58 months) leading up to the pandemic.”
The current U.S. unemployment rate is approximately 5.8%, with over half of all states reporting lower unemployment rates against the backdrop of 25 states ending federal unemployment insurance programs early and an ongoing labor shortage.
Workplace COVID-19 guidelines don’t apply to most U.S. businesses
“This decision represents a shameful failure of leadership by an administration that was elected on a platform of standing for the needs of all working people.”
The Department of Labor’s (DOL) new emergency workplace rule mandates that healthcare employers provide masks, physical barriers, proper ventilation, and other precautionary measures to protect workers from COVID-19.
This new rule does not apply to other employers, however, who are allowed to determine for themselves whether to follow non-mandatory guidance from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
The decision to refrain from mandating compliance with the stricter DOL requirements for more workplaces has angered many workers’ rights advocates, who believe that the Biden Administration is walking back on promises to provide protections to more American workers.
Retail sales dip last month
“The days of spending money online and splurging on durable goods and home furnishings is pivoting toward getting ready for trips to see grandma and grandpa at the lake or the beach and evenings out reconnecting with friends at bars and restaurants.”
Despite an overall strong showing, retail sales dropped 1.3% last month as Americans began spending less money on goods and more money on services and experiences. Spending on appliances, furniture, and electronics dropped, while spending at restaurants, bars, and hotels increased.
The drop comes on the heels of the report that consumer prices rose steeply in May, amounting to the largest annual increase in inflation in 13 years.
Senate passes legislation to make Juneteenth a federal holiday as more companies make it a paid holiday
“Declaring Juneteenth a company holiday is a symbol of our dedication to honoring Black Americans who have suffered the impacts of racism throughout U.S. history.”
A growing number of U.S. companies, such as Nike, JCPenney, and Target, are giving employees June 19 off as a paid holiday, without waiting for the federal government to mandate it.
The companies cite a commitment to diversity and equality as a key motivator in celebrating the day that commemorates when enslaved Black Americans first learned about their freedom in 1865.
The Senate recently passed legislation that would make Juneteenth a national holiday, but the bill has yet to be passed by the House of Representatives.
Teen unemployment rate falls to lowest levels since 1953
“It seems like every application that comes in is from a teen who has never had a job before.”
2021 has seen a surge in the number of U.S. teens seeking employment, providing a new pool of applicants for businesses beleaguered by chronic staffing shortages.
The unemployment rate among teenagers dropped to 9.6% last month, which is the lowest it’s been since 1953.
The Latest from Workest
Managing remote workers can be difficult … and firing them is even harder. Riia O’Donnell tackles the Do’s and Don’ts of Remote Firing this week for Workest.
As businesses emerge from the pandemic, it’s important to keep preparing for lean times at the forefront of your planning. Grace Ferguson provides a guide to Keeping your HR Engine Running During Economic Slowdowns.
Finally, before we say goodbye for the week, here are 3 things you should know:
- A lack of computer chips could drive further job cuts in the restaurant industry as businesses turn to contact-less ordering.
- Long-haul COVID-19 patients are changing the long-term disability insurance industry, as well as employers’ ability to offer these benefits.
25 states are ending federal unemployment assistance early. Here’s a helpful graphic with the end date for each state and the programs being cut.