Businesses, Wary of Workers' Demands, Are Reluctant to Hire, Fed President Says

Officials with the Federal Reserve Bank said on Thursday that they believe businesses are resistant to employ more workers because they are wary of their demands as the economy continues to stabilize.

"Business leaders are reluctant to hire to full capacity because they don't know what steady state is," Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank President Raphael Bostic said during a virtual event, which was part of the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum.

Bostic noted that it is still too early to know if "there will be less demand for workers," and also said that "we really need an economy that works for everyone."

Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank President Patrick Harker echoed similar comments during the virtual event.

"The U.S. economy, by and large, is in good shape overall," he said. "GDP has come roaring back after a record contraction during the first half of 2020; consumption, housing, and manufacturing are extremely healthy; and workers' incomes are rising

"But even as GDP has almost entirely recouped its losses from last year, employment remains down significantly. We still have nearly 7.6 million fewer people working than we did before the pandemic. And if you assume we would have maintained our pre-pandemic job growth of around 200,000 jobs a month had COVID-19 never arrived, we're really down around 10.6 million jobs."

Harker added: "Many millions more are in low opportunity jobs — those that pay little, don't offer flexibility or paths to growth, or don't take advantage of the skills they possess."

According to him, one of the Federal Reserve Bank's "most important responsibilities" is working to create "an equitable workforce recovery."

The comments by both Bostic and Harker come after the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released recent data on the number of job openings in the U.S. In a news release on June 8, BLS reported that there were 9.3 million job openings at the end of April, marking the second straight month that the nation has seen a record number of job openings.

Additionally, BLS reported a record-high 2.7 percent quit rate for employees across the U.S.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced many workers across the nation to begin working from home instead of a traditional office. As reported by NBC News, a recent survey conducted by the consulting firm Korn Ferry found that 49 percent of workers are likely to refuse a job offer that requires them to work in the office full time, rather than at home.

"Employers are going to have to redesign what they do, which is part of why the hybrid model is trending. Employers are realizing they're going to lose folks," Rue Dooley, HR knowledge adviser at the Society of Human Resource Management, told NBC News.

Newsweek reached out to the Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank for further comment from Bostic, but did not receive a response in time for publication.

Federal Reserve Bank
The Federal Reserve building is seen January 22, 2008 in Washington, DC. Chip Somodevilla/Getty