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Homeglobal cfo councilPandemic unemployment benefits are ending, but for big companies, labor shortage worries aren't

Pandemic unemployment benefits are ending, but for big companies, labor shortage worries aren’t

  • The September expiration of Covid-19 unemployment benefits is not resulting in more confidence among large corporations about their ability to find and hire workers.
  • The CNBC Global CFO Council survey for Q3 2021 finds an increasing percentage of U.S.-based companies saying it is harder to hire, and over 90% say they are raising wages.
  • The delta variant, back-to-school season and the unclear impact of the unemployment programs are adding to labor market uncertainty, and the CFO survey results imply that worker shortages and wage inflation may persist longer than many pundits predicted.

A woman walks by a "Now Hiring" sign outside a store on August 16, 2021 in Arlington, Virginia.Olivier Douliery | AFP | Getty Images

As pandemic unemployment benefits programs end in September, the belief that will push more workers back into jobs is going to get another test. But big corporations, even with more power to offer higher pay and more generous benefits than small businesses, don't seem confident that their ability to hire workers amid a record labor shortage is going to get any easier fast.

Among a select group of CFOs of major U.S. corporations recently surveyed by CNBC, 95% say it is harder to find workers for open positions now, up from 18% who said that it was harder in the first quarter of the year. That's according to the Q3 2021 CNBC Global CFO Council survey, which found on a global basis 84% of CFOs saying it is harder to hire.

The labor shortage isn't a new phenomenon. It predated the pandemic and was then compounded by Covid-19 and has been a major topic of concern throughout this year. But the sharp spike in CFOs of large corporations citing concerns about hiring suggests that the supply and demand imbalances in the market for workers isn't going to correct itself quickly. That has economists more worried that the labor shortage and wage inflation may last longer, and be more severe, than expected. 

The CNBC Global CFO Council survey was conducted August 13 to August 26 among 39 members of the Council, which in all includes companies with over $5 trillion in combined market capitalization.

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