Essential Economics

05/06/2020 CHRC

Essential Economics

For some time now, the compensation consultants at CHRC have been keeping an eye on the wages of those in the service sector. We watch the monthly JOLTS data aggregated by the Atlanta Fed and often have criticized news headlines that put an overemphasis on Manufacturing and Construction job gains and losses because they under-emphasize the large percentage of the U.S. economy that the service sector comprises.

We think Covid-19 has changed America’s understanding of how reliant the economy and all of us are on this service sector.

Given CHRC’s attention to this area of the labor market, and the recent wage pressure caused by over demand and under supply, this headline immediately caught our eye: Returning to Business Is Going to Take a Pay Raise. This sentence in particular caught our attention: “The coronavirus has laid bare that without workers to produce and consume their products, even the most formidable companies are just empty shells.” The author was not an HR consultant or a labor economist; he is an investment advisor who writes a column for Bloomberg. 

We agree. If there was already a shortage of workers for the service sector, when we return to normal, whatever the new normal looks like, and whenever normal kinda sorta returns, we do think that some of these roles will see an increase in wages.

Two weeks later we came across the same sentiments, in a theological magazine.  While this author’s vantage point was slightly different, his meaning was exactly the same: “Societal value is more subjective, and even higher-paid workers and executives are now recognizing that a well-functioning society really needs people to provide these services.” This author, like the Bloomberg columnist, referenced The Business Roundtable’s “Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation” that 181 executives signed in August 2019. In the statement, these leaders concede that in addition to shareholders, they also serve stakeholders, which includes employees and customers. 

Nobody knows what the new normal will look like, but we all know what the world’s been like without haircuts and without meals out, exchanging banter with our favorite servers. We know that many people that do invisible but essential jobs—from garbage collection, to hospital laundry, to first responders—have died from Covid-19. The hope of this Human Resource consultancy is that if financial and theological magazines are publishing pieces that reach the same conclusion, perhaps business leaders are synthesizing similarly and the new normal will involve some evolved compensation conversations. Read More Here and Here