When the federal government’s $600 weekly supplemental benefit for recipients of unemployment insurance expired at the end of July, ZipRecruiter, an online employment marketplace, expected a huge wave of searches to follow.
But it never materialized. “Job seeker numbers are pretty flat,” said Julia Pollak, labor economist at ZipRecruiter. “People still expect to get their old jobs back.”
Ms. Pollak said she was surprised because 36 percent of those surveyed in July by ZipRecruiter said they would spend more time searching for work if the $600 payments ended. Just over 40 percent said they would be willing to take a less appealing position.
Instead, people aren’t budging. “We see a level of stasis in the economy,” Ms. Pollak said. “The uncertainty causes people to sit and wait. The whole economy is in a bit of a freeze.”
In some cases, workers have dropped out of the labor market. Labor Department data showed that among female workers 25 to 54 years old, 125,000 left the work force in August.
“This is a situation where many people are choosing to delay re-entering the labor force or to withdraw,” Ms. Pollak said. “In some cases, it makes more sense for workers to wait for conditions to improve in their industry. It’s costly for people to switch.”
As regular unemployment benefits run out, Ms. Pollak and ZipRecruiter still expect a fresh wave of searchers by the end of the year. “There is some return to normal,” she said. “People don’t want to maintain a Covid-style lockdown forever.”