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Number of worker shifts falls in August as delta variant weighs on small businesses

  • The number of hourly employees who worked a shift in the month between mid-July and mid-August fell about 4%, according to Homebase data. The number of open small businesses declined 2.5%.
  • The trends mark a reversal from their prior trajectories, suggesting the Covid-19 delta variant is negatively affecting the economy, according to Homebase CEO John Waldmann.

Michael Lee | Moment | Getty Images

Fewer small businesses were open and hourly employees working in August from July, indicating that the Covid-19 delta variant may be dampening the U.S. economic recovery, according to data from Homebase, which supplies employee scheduling software to employers.

The number of employees working dropped 4% in mid-August versus mid-July, according to Homebase, which analyzed trends among roughly 60,000 businesses and 1 million hourly employees. The share of businesses with their doors open also fell 2.5% over that period.

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The monthly shifts are noteworthy since the economic metrics have generally been on an upward trajectory since April, according to John Waldmann, the company's founder and CEO.

"The leading indicators here of Main Street health and hourly employment are showing a real change from the trends earlier in the summer, and what seems to be a very clear impact of the delta variant on the economy," he said.

Delta variant

Covid cases, hospitalizations and deaths have climbed steadily through July and August, fueled by the delta variant and largely occurring among unvaccinated individuals.

By the end of August, there were roughly 150,000 new Covid cases a day on average, up from about 14,000 on July 1, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. New cases seem to have leveled off in recent days.

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