Lower-Wage Workers See Biggest Gains From Easing of Covid-19 Pandemic

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A fading pandemic and heating U.S. economy appear to be paying off for lower-wage workers.

New jobs at restaurants, hotels, stores, salons and similar in-person roles accounted for about half of all payroll gains in June, according to the Labor Department. And workers in those industries are seeing larger raises than other employees.

“Americans are becoming more mobile and dining out more,” said Jim Baird, chief investment officer at Plante Moran Financial Advisors. “Retailers and restaurants are having to pay more to hire workers to meet that demand.”

Restaurants and other hospitality businesses added a seasonally adjusted 343,000 jobs in June, the department said Friday. Retailers added 67,000 jobs last month, including strong gains at clothing stores, indicating Americans are getting dressed up to go out and back to offices. Similarly, personal-services businesses such as salons and dry cleaners added 29,000 jobs. Overall, employers added in 850,000 jobs last month, the best monthly gain since August 2020.

In the first six months of the year, the leisure and hospitality sector alone has accounted for nearly 50% of the 3.3 million jobs added in the U.S.