The Boston Globe, September 2023
“For the first time in a generation, workers are gaining the upper hand,” The New York Times reported in June 2021. It was 16 months into the pandemic and the labor market had been upended. What happened: Employers couldn’t find enough workers as the face-to-face economy — everything from hotels to hospitals and retailers to hair salons — came back to life after the rollout of COVID vaccines.
Paychecks climbed, especially for low-paying jobs, and unemployment fell. Opportunities to trade up to better jobs expanded. And workers flexed their new muscle by forming the first unions at Starbucks and Amazon.
Fast forward: Today, the balance of power is shifting back toward employers. Hiring has slowed for months against the headwinds of higher interest rates imposed by the Federal Reserve to restrain inflation. Companies are getting stingier with signing bonuses and wage increases.