US Airlines Make Drastic Changes Amid Labor Shortages

U.S. Airlines Make Drastic Changes Amid Labor Shortages

( – Southwest Airlines is overhauling its recruiting processes in an urgent race to fill thousands of vacancies. Meanwhile, millions of Americans are being paid to stay home from work.

On June 16, Southwest’s recruitment chief, Greg Muccio, told business reporters that the airline had kept on all its staff through the pandemic while many businesses laid off or furloughed them. Now, though, they have 4,000 jobs to fill – and the flow of applicants is slowing.

Muccio said that before the pandemic began, they had 42 qualified applicants for each vacancy; now that’s down to 14. That means the time to hire someone for each job has risen by almost 50%. Muccio hopes that automating large parts of the hiring process can bring that time back down.

The question is, why is Southwest finding it so difficult to hire staff? The US unemployment rate was 5.8% in May – down from its peak when lockdown began, but still a lot higher than the 3.5% it was sitting at in February 2020. There are over nine million unemployed Americans, so why aren’t they applying for jobs?

One big reason is that many are being paid not to work. Biden wants to keep handing out an extra $300 a week in unemployment until September, so businesses like Southwest will struggle to hire all through the vital summer tourism season.

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