Business isn’t exactly booming for Neema Hospitality, which owns a dozen hotel franchises in the mid-Atlantic region, but it’s gradually improved from the depths of the COVID-19 recession.
Hotel occupancy averaged 30% to 35% last month, down from 40% to 50% in a normal January but that gap between crisis and pre-crisis revenue has narrowed slightly each month, says Sandeep Thakrar, the company’s president. More significantly, Thakrar says his hotels are starting to book stays for weddings, school athletic games and other events in the spring as Americans look forward to warmer weather and widespread vaccinations.
As a result, Thakrar has been looking to hire a couple of workers at each of his hotels for the past few months.
“We’re trying to get prepared for our busy season,” he says. “I’m optimistic about the second half of the year.”
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Hiring temporary workers
He hasn’t had much luck. So Thakrar has brought on several temporary housekeepers and increased the hours of existing workers. He would prefer to hire permanent staffers, noting temporary employees can be expensive because the staffing firm charges a fee for its services.
Although last week’s jobs report showed that hiring was dismal for a second straight month in January amid COVID-19 surges, employers added lots of temporary workers and worked existing employees more hours. The dual trends point to growing demand from customers that represents a positive sign for an economy facing a tough winter, analysts say. Traditionally, as the nation emerges from recession, wary companies add contingent workers and more hours for current employees before hiring permanent staff several months later. In the meantime, longer workdays mean more income and spending for the economy.
Experts say that pattern is playing out in the current recovery.
“I think it’s probably a precursor of more hiring down the line,” says Michael Feroli, chief U.S. economist of J.P. Morgan.
Not hiring permanent workers
Yet that dynamic is complicated by factors unique to the pandemic-induced downturn. Some businesses aren’t hiring permanent workers because they don’t know what their business will look like when life starts returning to normal. And many Americans aren’t even looking for jobs because they’re afraid of contracting the coronavirus, they’re caring for kids who are remote learning from home, or they’re receiving generous unemployment benefits, Thakrar and other business owners say.
The pickup in temporary workers and hours is consistent with other signs of a recovering economy despite COVID-19 spikes and renewed business lockdowns that led to 227,000 job losses in December and a paltry 49,000 gains in January. There were 6.6 million U.S. job openings in December, up by 74,000 from the prior month and by 600,000 from…
Go to the news source: Bosses add lots of temporary jobs, offer more hours