Labor Crisis

A doctor and patient with text reading "Can Employers Require the COVID-19 Vaccine?"

Can Employers Require the COVID-19 Vaccine?

Can Employers Require the COVID-19 Vaccine? 1016 528 Sprockets

It’s been on the minds of workers, job seekers, and business owners since vaccines became available: Can employers require a COVID-19 vaccine for their employees? While about half of the adult population in the U.S. has received at least one dose, several people have not been vaccinated due to medical reasons, personal preference, religion, or lack of availability.

Still, some U.S. employers have begun developing COVID-19 vaccination policies in line with information from the FDA, CDC, EEOC, and other regulatory bodies. Let’s take a shot at explaining everything you need to know about this complex situation.

What You Should Know About COVID-19 Vaccine Requirements

EEOC Guidelines

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), employers can require COVID-19 vaccinations for all employees entering the workplace. It does not explicitly forbid mandatory vaccination programs.

Nevertheless, employers must accommodate employees with exemption requests due to religious beliefs or medical reasons. This may include wearing a mask, social distancing, or working from home.

FAQ: Can the CDC Mandate COVID-19 Vaccinations for Employees?

As an arm of the federal government, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) does not mandate vaccinations or keep track of personal vaccination data. States, local governments, and employers can mandate COVID-19 vaccination programs, but only if it’s permissible under state and other applicable laws.

Employee Vaccination Incentives

Employers, corporations, and states are offering incentives to increase vaccination rates that include lottery tickets, passes to amusement parks, and even cash. These incentives must be limited in scope under the EEOC guidelines. It warns that “very large incentives” could make employees feel too pressured to reveal their protected medical data. 

Incentives must also comply with the ADA and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) as well as with federal, state, and local laws. Under the GINA, employers are not allowed to provide incentives to employees for convincing unvaccinated coworkers to get the shot.

Risks of Mandatory Vaccination Policies

Be aware that employers may be held responsible for workers’ compensation claims if subsequent injuries and illnesses are found to be related to the shots. This is where the situation becomes more complicated.

Employers who implement mandatory vaccination policies must consider that adverse reactions, requiring employees to seek medical intervention or rendering them unable to work, may be recorded on the OSHA logs if the illness or injury is related to the vaccine.

According to Brent Clark, a lawyer at Seyfarth Shaw, “If I’m going to go to the step of mandating the vaccine, then I’m going to own the reasonably foreseeable consequences that individuals may suffer or may result from that vaccination.”

Advice for Business Owners

Carefully assess the risk-to-reward ratio of implementing a mandatory vaccination program. Depending on your business, satisfying the compliance requirements may be more trouble than it’s worth. If you implement a requirement, make sure you inform staff about the process and explain how employees can submit requests for reasonable accommodations/exemptions for religious and medical reasons.

Finally, stay informed with the most up-to-date information. Regulatory agency guidance can change by the day!

Are You an Employer Struggling With Staffing Levels?

Someone on a laptop screening high quality candidatesIf so, Sprockets can help you source, screen, and select the ideal applicants. Our AI-powered solution reveals who shares characteristics with your top-performing employees, empowering you to make better hiring decisions and improve employee retention. The platform features free job posting ($400 value), tax-credit evaluation, and even virtual recruiters who send immediate alerts when they find an excellent candidate.

Schedule a brief demo now to see how Sprockets helps you maintain optimal staffing levels!

A man putting a sign on a door and text reading "Which States Will Return to Work Soonest After COVID-19?"

Which States Will Return to Work Soonest After COVID-19?

Which States Will Return to Work Soonest After COVID-19? 1016 528 Sprockets

The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in thousands of employees leaving the workforce via layoffs, furloughs, or resignations due to health concerns. Now, we are faced with a labor crisis that has people wondering, “Which states will return to work soonest after COVID-19?”

It’s a valid concern as more states begin to open back up to travel and tourism, encouraging a return to the “norm.” However, how can businesses keep up with consumer demand when it’s such a struggle to stabilize and maintain optimal staffing levels? Let’s examine which states are likely to see employment rise and explain what employers can do to get back to their norm.

Evaluating Which States Will Return to Work Soonest After COVID-19

Industries and Occupations Hit Hardest by the Pandemic

First, it’s important to take note of which industries COVID-19 impacted the most. After all, certain states rely more heavily on specific industries than others.

The unemployment rate in the U.S. reached a shocking 14.7% in April 2020, with an estimated 20.5 million jobs lost. Here are the eight occupational fields that saw the most significant drops in employment:

  1. Leisure and Hospitality
  2. Mining/Oil/Gas
  3. Travel and Transportation
  4. Construction
  5. Entertainment
  6. Laundry
  7. Self-Employment
  8. Manufacturing

States With the Highest Unemployment Rates

Now, fast forward to mid-2021 with a fresh look at unemployment rates by state, and we can gain even more insight into the effects of COVID-19. These are the 10 states with the highest rates of unemployment as of April, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS):

  1. Hawaii: 8.5%
  2. California: 8.3%
  3. New York: 8.2%
  4. New Mexico: 8.2%
  5. Connecticut: 8.1%
  6. Nevada: 8.0 %
  7. New Jersey: 7.5%
  8. District of Columbia: 7.5%
  9. Pennsylvania: 7.4%
  10. Louisiana: 7.3%

States Bouncing Back the Quickest

So, while unemployment rates have improved since being at a country-wide average of 14.7% in April 2020, there is still a long way to go before we return to the pre-pandemic average of 3.5%. However, with the rise in vaccination rates, reduction of unemployment benefits, and introduction of return-to-work incentives, some states have begun to bounce back.

WalletHub recently released findings on which states are making the biggest gains by comparing unemployment metrics from various dates relevant to the pandemic. Here are the top 10:

  1. South Dakota
  2. Utah
  3. Nebraska
  4. Vermont
  5. Idaho
  6. Kansas
  7. Montana
  8. Alabama
  9. New Hampshire
  10. Iowa

Hire and Retain the Best Workers

Two people shaking hands during an interviewThe country is on its way back to pre-pandemic norms in terms of employment rates, and Sprockets is doing what we do best to help get businesses back on track. Our AI-powered platform empowers owners and operators to find the ideal new hires. Plus, it augments sourcing with free job posting ($400+ value) and virtual recruiters that send immediate alerts when they discover candidates who would be excellent fits for their teams.

It’s not magic — it’s logic. Schedule a demo today to see how Sprockets reveals shared characteristics among top-performing employees and incoming applicants to improve retention!

Someone doing a job search on a laptop with text reading "The 10 Highest Unemployment Rates by State"

The 10 Highest Unemployment Rates by State

The 10 Highest Unemployment Rates by State 1016 528 Sprockets

Studying the unemployment rate by state midway through 2021 reveals which parts of the country are poised for economic recovery in a post-pandemic era. This can prove beneficial to both job seekers and business owners, especially while we’re in the midst of a labor crisis. The following list consists of states with the highest unemployment rates in America, according to April 2021 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

State-by-State Unemployment Rate

1. Hawaii 8.5%

Even though Hawaii had the highest unemployment rate of any U.S. state in April 2021 at 8.5%, it was a considerable decline from the previous September when the figure spiked to 15%. Chief Economist Eugene Tan of the Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism predicts the state will return to normal unemployment levels by November 2021. The state economy relies heavily on its tourism industry, which is expected to recover during the summer.

2. California 8.3%

The Golden State’s reopening for business on June 15 is expected to mark the beginning of a speedy recovery. Over 2.7 million jobs were lost in the state between March and April 2020. By the following April, 1.58 million Californians were still unemployed. Although the state has 11.8% of America’s workforce, it accounts for over 14% of jobless claims in the nation.

3. New York (8.2%)

New York state lost over 2 million jobs during the pandemic, but jobs are steadily returning in 2021. However, unemployment remains exceptionally high in New York City at over 11%. The worst period of joblessness, though, for the nation’s most populated city, was in 2020 at 15.5%. Tourism and hospitality were the industries most impacted by shutdowns.

4. New Mexico (8.2%)

One key reason why COVID-19 shutdowns have drastically affected New Mexico is that the state doesn’t have a high percentage of large corporations that employ thousands of workers. However, since the state has a relatively small and sparse population, only 78,000 residents were unemployed in April 2021. Some officials believe the state’s unemployment benefits are so comfortable that many people don’t want to return to work.

5. Connecticut (8.1%)

As far as job declines in the first half of 2021, Connecticut has suffered the worst, losing 9.7 percent of its workforce from February through April. That equates to a loss of about 188,000 jobs in a state that has had a minimal drop in its unemployment rate since the pandemic began. Overall, Connecticut’s workforce slid from 1.9 million to 1.6 million people over the past year.

6. Nevada (8.0%)

Since Nevada is a large state with a small population, its high unemployment rate is somewhat of a mirage driven by thousands of lost jobs in Las Vegas, the state’s only major metropolitan area. The gambling destination had an unemployment rate of nearly 12% in November 2020, while the state’s overall jobless rate stood at 6.8% by the end of the year. At that point, 1.35 million of the state’s 1.48 million workers had jobs. Potential areas for growth areas that will help the states’ recovery process are mining, logging, business services, manufacturing, and construction.

7. New Jersey (7.5%)

Similar to other states with popular tourist attractions, New Jersey has been hit hard by travel shutdowns, particularly in the hospitality industry. Traditionally, it’s been a commuter state as well, with many residents crossing the state line to work in New York City. New Jersey’s beaches and casinos usually attract heavy tourism in the summer, which will be a key indicator this year for the state’s turnaround. Prior to the pandemic, the Garden State had an unemployment rate of 3.2%, while the national figure was 3.7%.

8. Pennsylvania (7.4%)

One of Pennsylvania’s main problems with unemployment is that many small businesses, including restaurants, can’t find workers to fill jobs. Employers believe the extra $300 per week federal pandemic benefits have slowed down unemployed people’s ambitions to return to work, resulting in a massive labor shortage. Consequently, business leaders will likely put pressure on lawmakers to end the moratorium in which individuals must prove they are looking for work to receive unemployment compensation.

9. Louisiana (7.3%)

Louisiana is trying to lower its high jobless rate by encouraging people to get back to work and discontinuing federal handouts. While 25 Republican governors in the country had made plans to cut federal unemployment benefits by June 2021, John Bel Edwards of Louisiana became the first Democratic governor to join them. States may continue receiving funds from the federal program until September 6, 2021, to pay unemployed individuals an additional $300 per week.

10. Illinois (7.1%)

As one of the worst-stricken states for job losses throughout the pandemic, Illinois’ unemployment rate soared as high as 16.4% in April 2020. By December, the rate had fallen to 7.6% and has continued to decrease. Nearly one million people in the state were unemployed in April 2020, but a year later, the number dropped to around 438,000.

Stabilize Staffing Levels With Sprockets

The Sprockets platformWhen we analyze the state-by-state unemployment rate, we get a clearer picture of how the pandemic shutdowns have affected jobs and certain industries. Nevertheless, signs of economic recovery are evident across the nation, and Sprockets can help businesses achieve healthy staffing levels once again.

Sprockets augments sourcing via free job postings ($400 value) and reveals which applicants are the ideal fit for your team. The AI-powered platform empowers you to hire the perfect candidates every time, ultimately improving employee retention and allowing operators to focus on important daily tasks rather than dealing with an endless cycle of turnover.

Schedule a free demo today to jumpstart your business’s recovery in the post-pandemic era.

A man on a laptop with text reading "25 States Reducing Unemployment Benefits"

Which States Have Decided to Reduce Unemployment Benefits?

Which States Have Decided to Reduce Unemployment Benefits? 1016 528 Sprockets

The COVID-19 pandemic has created one of the worst economic downturns since the financial crisis of 2008, leading both federal and state governments to quickly bring relief to millions of Americans who suddenly lost their jobs. State leaders agreed on the need to increase the number of unemployment benefits being provided to their citizens during this time.

Now, states have begun to open up once again, prompting governors to propose dates when federal unemployment benefits should be reduced. The following includes a list of the states that are seeking — or have already approved — a plan to reduce unemployment benefits.

States Reducing Unemployment Benefits

It’s important to note that the official expiration date for the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) is September 6, 2021. Although federal funds would still be available to states, many leaders have chosen to end the programs before September 6 in an effort to encourage people to get back to work. This means that benefits such as the extra $300 per week supplement will be removed.

June 12 | Alaska, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri

June 12 is the earliest date set to terminate benefits. These reduced unemployment benefits will affect Americans in Alaska, Iowa, Mississippi, and Missouri. Dr. Tamika L. Ledbetter, Alaska’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner, has stated that Alaska’s economy is open, and employers are ready and willing to bring people back to work. The same sentiment is shared among the other three states who have chosen June 12 to bring an end to COVID-19 unemployment benefits.

June 19 | Alabama, Idaho, Indiana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, West Virginia, Wyoming

Just a week later, the states of Alabama, Idaho, Indiana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, West Virginia, and Wyoming will end the COVID-19 unemployment benefits. Governor Kay Ivey of Alabama defends the move by saying that many business owners have come to her stating that they are having a difficult time finding people to hire. 

Opponents of this move point to small business owners and other self-employed Americans who would normally be denied unemployment during COVID-19 but are keeping themselves afloat due to the additional federal funds and removal of certain restrictions.

June 26 | Arkansas, Oklahoma, Utah, Florida, Georgia, Ohio, South Dakota, Texas

Spearheaded by Texas Governor Gregg Abbott, the states of Arkansas, Oklahoma, Utah, Florida, Georgia, Ohio, South Dakota, and Texas will effectively opt out of 2021 unemployment funds from the U.S. Department of Labor on June 26. Texas Governor Gregg Abbott stated that those on unemployment benefits are equal to the jobs available in Texas.

June 27 – July 10 | Montana, South Carolina, Tennessee, Maryland, Arizona

Some of the last states to reduce unemployment benefits include Montana on June 27, South Carolina on June 30, Tennessee and Maryland on July 3, and Arizona on July 10. Although these are some of the latest dates on the list, they are still a far cry from the September 6 deadline set by President Biden and Congress.

Business Owners Are Turning to Sprockets’ Staffing Solution

A man looking at job applicants on a tabletIt’s challenging to attract applicants, especially the ideal ones for open positions with the current labor crisis. Luckily, Sprockets offers an AI-powered solution with all of the tools necessary to quickly stabilize and maintain healthy staffing levels. 

The Sprockets platform features free posting to popular job boards ($400 value), personality assessments, virtual recruiters, and a sophisticated applicant matching system that reveals which applicants will perform like your best employees. It’s proven to be effective, improving 90-day retention by 43%, and it’s loved by business owners across several top brands. Curtis Wilhelmi of McDonald’s states, “It’s a no-brainer!”

A woman holding a paycheck with text reading "9 Companies Offering Hiring Bonuses to New Workers"

These Companies Are Currently Offering Hiring Bonuses

These Companies Are Currently Offering Hiring Bonuses 1016 528 Sprockets

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in many companies offering hiring bonuses to employees amidst the uncertain job market. The bonuses provide additional motivation to workers and set organizations apart from other businesses. Furthermore, hiring bonuses are a cost-effective method because they are a one-time cost, unlike salaries. The incentives can average around 20% of an employee’s annual salary, but the figure varies from company to company.

Some of you might wonder, “What is a hiring bonus, and how can I get one?” Let’s dive into the topic and show you a few of the businesses that have decided to offer sign-on bonuses to attract potential workers.

9 Companies Offering Hiring Bonuses to New Workers

1. Amazon

It is the second-largest retailer after Walmart, employing approximately 1.2 million people. The pandemic led to a surge in online shopping, causing the company to hire more delivery and warehouse workers to keep up with the demand.

The current Amazon hiring bonuses are for new employees who pack and ship online orders. For example, some workers can get a $1,000 sign-on bonus and an additional $100 if they have received the COVID-19 vaccination. There are opportunities in several states, such as Kentucky, New Jersey, and Washington.

2. McDonald’s

One of the world’s most prominent fast-food service restaurants, serving approximately 69 million customers, is also offering hiring bonuses to new crew members. Since franchisees own many McDonald’s locations, the incentives can vary significantly. In some cases, workers can receive a $500 sign-on bonus as well as a $50 incentive just for showing up for an interview!

3. Chipotle

Chipotle has introduced several incentives to attract applicants during the COVID-19 pandemic. One recent development is a $200 employee referral bonus for crew members and an additional $750 for an apprentice or general manager position. The increase in bonuses and wages is due to Chipotle’s recent expansion plan, which seeks to fill 200 new locations with staff.

4. Christus Health

This non-profit organization with over 600 locations is offering opportunities for health workers in various specialties with sign-on bonuses of approximately $6,000 to $10,000. The incentives aim to increase their applicant pool during a time when health care workers are desperately needed in communities across the country and the world.

5. General Dynamics Information Technology

General Dynamics Information Technology offers opportunities for technicians and engineering specialists, and their new hiring bonus is approximately $10,000. They also offer an $8,000 bonus to current employees who refer a new employee. The jobs are widespread across various states in the country.

6. Bartlett Plumbing and Heating Company 

People can earn hiring bonuses for HVAC work, as well! Bartlett Plumbing and Heating Company has full-time openings for employees in Michigan with sign-on bonuses of $1,000 that are paid after 90 days of employment.

7. Expanding Horizons

Expanding Horizons is an adult foster care group that offers rehabilitation services to patients with mental illnesses and brain injuries. The company has several open roles with bonuses of $500 after working for three months and a 2% wage increase after six months.

8. Hilton Hotels

If you’re looking for a sign-on bonus in the hospitality industry, then you’re in luck. The Hilton group of hotels and resorts currently offers hiring incentives for various full and part-time positions, including front desk agents, housekeepers, overnight cleaners, and room attendants. Many of the positions offer hiring bonuses of between $300 to $1,500!

9. Continuum Behavioral Health

This organization provides services to people with learning and behavioral disabilities. It has an immediate need for board-certified behavior analysts, providing $5,000 signing bonuses to fill positions in various locations across the country. There are both full-time and part-time job openings in these areas. Continuum Behavioral health also offers competitive salaries and remuneration packages, offering flexible working schedules.

An Additional Solution for Employers During the Labor Crisis

SprocketsAre you a business owner or manager considering the possibility of offering hiring bonuses to attract new employees? It can be an attractive option for both you and job seekers, but it only provides part of the solution to the current labor crisis.

It’s crucial to not only attract applicants, but also make sure that they are the ideal fit for your business. Otherwise, you risk costly employee turnover and having to go through the hiring process all over again. That’s where Sprockets comes in. Our AI-powered platform has all the tools you need to increase applicant flow, screen candidates, and help you hire more employees like your top performers. We even offer free posting to top job boards and “Virtual Recruiters” who handle most of the work for you. It’s not magic — it’s logic.

Schedule a demo now to discover how Sprockets can solve your staffing problems and improve overall employee retention!

Someone holding money and text reading "Which States Are Offering Back-to-Work Incentives?"

Which States Are Offering Back-to-Work Incentives?

Which States Are Offering Back-to-Work Incentives? 1016 528 Sprockets

As a labor crisis looms in the US with a perceived shortage of workers, several states have opted to reduce unemployment benefits and offer back-to-work incentives instead. This movement is intended to lower the country’s unemployment rate and help struggling businesses maintain healthy staffing levels, although some economists disagree on its potential effectiveness. Find out which states have implemented — or plan to implement — these return-to-work incentives.

States Offering Back-to-Work Bonuses

1. Arizona

On May 13, Arizona proclaimed that it would no longer be partaking in the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) initiative. Instead, they plan on using federal funds to provide their residents with a return-to-work incentive. If residents return to full-time work, they can receive a bonus of $2,000. If you cannot return full-time but instead could work part-time, then you could still expect a bonus, but it would only be $1,000.

The only conditions that are required to receive this incentive are that you must already be receiving unemployment aid, you cannot be paid more than $25 per hour at the new position, and individuals must complete at least 10 weeks of work with the new employer.

2. Colorado

Colorado has seen a decrease in new filers for their state unemployment benefits, but they are offering a return-to-work bonus to continue this trend. This will come as a $1,600 incentive for those who received at least $25 in weekly federal aid between March 28 and May 16. The money will be offered to people who work full-time by May 29 and remain employed with the same employer for at least eight weeks. If you were unable to return to work during that time but were still receiving benefits, residents could still receive up to $1,200. This is called the Colorado Jumpstart Incentive, and it is predicted to total at $500,000 by the end of its use.

3. Connecticut

Having created the Back to Work CT program, Connecticut will provide a $1,000 one-time payment to its 10,000 long-term unemployed residents. It has been designed to encourage those who have been out of work for a lengthy period of time to find work and return to the way things were before the pandemic started.

To be eligible, workers must have filed for unemployment with the state prior to May 30, must find and keep a full-time job for eight consecutive weeks, and not receive unemployment benefits while they are employed. As long as they follow these guidelines, there could be a lucrative payout coming to many residents.

4. Montana

This state was one of the first to stop participating in the FPUC program. Leaders chose to offer a return-to-work bonus of $1,200 to those who rejoin the workforce. The state has pledged $15 million to this program, but it is on a first-come, first-served basis. This initiative is meant to help up to 12,500 workers within Montana, even though their recorded unemployment rate is less than that. The main reason for this is because there has also been an influx of people moving into the state and seeking to start over after the devastating impact of the global pandemic. They wish to make sure that those who are coming in will also have a chance at this great incentive, but it is only available until the end of October.

5. New Hampshire

Trying to faze out their participation in the unemployment benefits offered by the federal government by mid-June, New Hampshire leaders are offering back-to-work benefits in the form of a bonus. With $10 million pledged to this, they will offer a one-time payout of $1,000 for those who are able to maintain full-time employment for eight consecutive weeks. For part-time employees, they will be offered a smaller amount for doing the same. Part-time employees will see $500 added to their accounts to help them as well.

To be eligible, workers must make less than $25 per hour and meet the attendance requirements. This should help to get employees back into positions as the state starts to reopen and even encourage people to move in and take advantage of this program.

6. Oklahoma

Similar to other states, Oklahoma has announced its intent to withdraw from the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program by the end of June and instead replace its bonus with one of its own. The first 20,000 residents to return to work would receive a $1,200 one-time bonus payment. This money will be paid by the American Rescue Plan program instead of by the state government. Only those who have received unemployment benefits between May 2 and May 15 and who complete six consecutive weeks with a single employer will find themselves receiving the incentive, which will go out in mid-July.

Additional States Considering Return-to-Work Incentives

These six states listed above might soon be followed by others with leaders who’d like to reduce weekly unemployment benefits and offer back-to-work bonuses. The list includes West Virginia as well as North Carolina.

What These Bonuses Mean for Employers

Someone on a laptop screening high quality candidatesIf you’re a business owner in one of these states, you might begin to see an increase in the number of potential hires searching for employment. However, how do you attract these job seekers, particularly the ideal applicants for your team?

The answer is simple: Sprockets. Our AI-powered platform takes what makes your top-performing employees great and finds shared characteristics with incoming applicants. Sprockets even offers free posting to popular job boards as well as “Virtual Recruiters” who alert you when they find stellar candidates, allowing you and your managers to focus more on daily operations rather than the hiring process.

Schedule a demo today to see how Sprockets can augment sourcing efforts, identify the ideal applicants, and improve your employee retention!