WPI Labor Day Report 2023

The post-pandemic labor market remains tight, although there are signs of its loosening. For much of the past year, there were approximately two job openings per unemployed individual, but in July that ratio fell to 1.5 job openings. This labor supply and demand gap has, in some industries, helped shift the balance of power from employers to workers, contributing to increased union organizing efforts and notable strike activity, even while the overall union membership rate continues to decline. “Loud quitting” is gaining on “quiet quitting” as workers become more actively than passively disengaged at work. At the same time, the rates at which employers are hiring and employees are leaving their jobs have decreased slightly in recent months, indicating employees may be becoming more cautious about their employment decisions, and the balance of labor market power might be gravitating back to employers.

While the pandemic and its after-effects certainly played a role in the tight labor market, underlying demographic and policy shifts were already underway. The aging workforce has and will continue to impact hiring and decrease labor force participation rates. In addition, declining immigration has reduced the aggregate labor supply.

Effectively addressing these and other workforce issues has been challenging. Congressional gridlock at the federal level means that many significant labor and employment changes are occurring through state and local legislative bodies, federal agency regulations and policies, and Supreme Court opinions.

Meanwhile, the rise of artificial intelligence and automation in the workplace has highlighted the urgent need for re- and up-skilling for the economy to remain competitive in a global market, while at the same time it has stoked new anxieties for workers.

This Labor Day Report addresses the following questions:

  • What is the current state of the U.S. workforce, and why are so many strikes suddenly making headlines?
  • Which federal agency actions have been most significant for employers this year, and what can we expect from the National Labor Relations Board, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Department of Labor, and the Department of Homeland Security in the months ahead?
  • How has the U.S. Supreme Court revised employment law this year, and what major questions are ahead for the 2024-2025 term?
  • Which state legislatures have been most active this year, and what are the trending topics for new local laws?

We hope this WPI Report provides some insight.

Click here to read the full WPI Report.

Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.