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U.S. Chamber Poll: Hiring Bonuses Have Greatest Impact in Encouraging People to Return to Work

  • U.S. Chamber of Commerce polls Americans who lost their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic to see which incentives would spur them to return to the labor market
  • While no incentive proved an encouragement to the majority of respondents, hiring bonuses had the greatest impact
  • Flexible work arrangements, higher salaries, and vaccine requirements also have a substantial impact on encouraging a return to work

Summary by Dirk Langeveld

Americans left unemployed by the COVID-19 pandemic were generally unlikely to be swayed by incentives to get them to return to work, according to a recent poll by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. However, hiring bonuses were most likely to have an impact.

In May, the U.S. Chamber surveyed 506 Americans who lost their job during the pandemic to see which incentives would be most likely to increase their urgency to return to the labor market. Thirty-nine percent said a $1,000 hiring bonus would do so, with the share rising to 53 percent among respondents ages 25-34 and 49 percent among those with some college education.

Neil Bradley, executive vice president and chief policy officer, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, urged states to allocate some federal pandemic relief funds toward hiring bonuses to help reduce unemployment rates. He noted how Connecticut and nine other states have already done so.

  • 32 percent said their urgency to return to work would improve if they were given more flexibility with remote work
  • 24 percent said they would be incentivized by a 5 percent compensation increase over their previous job’s wages
  • 23 percent would be more likely to return to work if the employer mandated that employees get a COVID-19 vaccination
  • 17 percent said their urgency to return to work would be improved once school reopens in the fall or other child care options open up in their community
  • The U.S. Chamber’s Workforce Availability ratio shows that there are only 1.4 workers available for every job opening, half the average of 2.8 over the past two decades
  • There were 9.3 million job openings in April, up 1 million from March

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