Quick Hits - August 2, 2023 - American Society of Employers - Heather Nezich

Quick Hits - August 2, 2023

VETS 4212 reporting is now open: The VETS-4212 report filing season is now open, and federal contractors and subcontractors should file if you have a current federal government contract or subcontract worth $150,000 or more, regardless of the number of employees. All covered federal contractors and subcontractors must submit their VETS-4212 report between August 1 and September 30, 2023, either electronically or by U.S. mail.  For more information click here.

Women’s labor participation rate hits all-time high: The labor force participation rate for women in their prime working age hit an all-time high in June, reaching 77.8%, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data released Friday as part of the monthly jobs report.  “The [overall] prime-age employment-to-population ratio continued to rise, hitting 80.9%, the highest level since 2001; among women, it reached 75.3%, the highest on record,” Julia Pollak, chief economist for ZipRecruiter, said. June was the third consecutive month that the participation rate for women between the ages of 25 and 54 has set a record high. Women’s labor force participation has rebounded from the pandemic “she-cession” and returned to its pre-pandemic form of making progressively historic labor market gains.  In April 2020 women’s labor participation dropped from 77% in February 2020 to 73.5% as the pandemic froze the U.S. economy, forcing more than 20 million people out of their jobs. As the nation recovered in the coming months; however, women didn’t return at the same levels as men. Source:  CNN 7/7/23

Healthcare spending by individuals is increasing by 24%:  Healthcare spending is still on the rise, with median costs per person increasing to over $6,000 in 2021, according to a new analysis from the Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI).  Median per person healthcare spending increased by 24% from 2017 through 2021, HCCI’s latest Healthy Marketplace Index shows. But healthcare spending varied significantly depending on where people lived. For example, patients in metropolitan areas with the highest utilization rates paid nearly three times more for healthcare services that year compared to their neighbors in metropolitan areas with the lowest utilization rates.  Rising medical prices impacted healthcare spending, with overall spending growth reflecting a 9% increase in prices, on average, and 14% increase in service use, on average. The American Medical Association (AMA) reports patients spent $433.2 billion, or 10.2% of total healthcare spending, in 2021, the same year of the HCCI analysis. Healthcare spending is only expected to rise, with the latest healthcare spending projections from federal actuaries estimating healthcare to account for nearly 20% of gross domestic product (GDP) by 2031.  Therefore, any benefit that will assist with this spend, which was kept down because of the pandemic, will be an attraction and retention tool.  Source: Rev Cycle Intelligence 7/7/2023

California employers may have to pay remote worker office expenses:  On July 11, 2023, the California Court of Appeal in Thai v. IBM held that whether an employer is obligated to reimburse expenses incurred by an employee working from home turns on whether the expenses were a direct consequence of the discharge of the employee's job duties, not on whether the expenses were directly caused by the employer.  It is based on California Labor Code Section 2802. The relevant statutory language reads, "An employer shall indemnify his or her employee for all necessary expenditures or losses incurred by the employee in direct consequence of the discharge of his or her duties, or of his or her obedience to the directions of the employer . . ." The Court did not address what expenses are considered "reasonable" or the extent to which an employer must reimburse an employee for expenses incurred for work and personal reasons.  Source: Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton 7/19/23

Factories are being built, but employers cannot find workers: The U.S. may be experiencing a factory boom, but finding the workers to staff them may be a more difficult task.  Data from the Census Bureau shows construction spending on U.S. manufacturing at its highest levels of the 2000s, nearly doubling from $110 billion in May 2022 to $194 billion in May 2023.  Despite that huge jump in manufacturing construction, employment in the sector has been stagnant over the last year, suggesting filling the new factories with workers could be difficult. According to the Treasury Department, the boom has been driven mainly by construction for computer, electronic, and electrical manufacturing, spending on which nearly quadrupled since early 2022. This component now accounts for over half of total construction spending on manufacturing, whereas in September 2021, it made up just about an eighth of the total. This year has seen manufacturing employment remain especially stagnant, growing by just around 4,000 employees since January. Manufacturing now makes up just over 8% of the workforce, about half of early 1990s levels and the lowest share ever.   Manufacturers are recognizing that workforce issues will likely cause 2.1 million jobs to be unfilled by 2030.  Source:  Insider: 7/11/23

A Gen Z benefit – lawyer access:  Most (84%) Gen Z employees are interested in using affordable legal services via their employer, 10% more than last year, according to insurance firm MetLife’s 2023 Employee Benefit Trends study. These kinds of plans provide affordable access to an attorney, as if on a retainer, via a network of pre-qualified attorneys.  Legal plans offered by employers have long been utilized by older generations for support in areas like estate planning and will management. But now Gen Zers are taking advantage of this work benefit for reviewing important documents like rental agreements, navigating buying their first home, dealing with traffic tickets, and airfare documentation after delayed flights. Nearly half (48%) of Gen Z workers said they used legal services last year for peace of mind and to assuage anxiety. The demand for legal plans has increased across the board, too. In 2019, 16% identified it as a “must-have” benefit. This year, it’s at 34%. The report found that in the last three years, 62% of employees have been involved in a legal issue and 69% expressed concern over the associated costs. The employees who do have a legal plan reported feeling more financially healthy compared to those who don’t.  Source: Worklife 7/11/23

Women’s World Cup fact: $110 million is the prize pool for the Women's World Cup, which kicked off July 20 in Australia and New Zealand. While the payout is up from zero 20 years ago, it still does not compare with the $440 million prize pool for the Men's World Cup in Qatar last year.  Source:  Bloomberg

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