Former SBA Staffer Says Pay Now Tops List Of Job Seeker Priorities Following August Inflation Increase

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PrideStaff Tampa Owner Matt Becker says low unemployment, decreased workforce participation is shrinking number of qualified employees for businesses struggling to hire

TAMPA, Fla. – Despite all signs of the labor market’s recovery to pre-pandemic levels, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) increase from August 2021 to August 2022 and the U.S.’s low workforce participation rate still have employees and employers alike feeling strained.

To combat this, former Deputy Chief of Staff of the Small Business Administration Matt Becker is advising Tampa Bay employers struggling to find qualified workers to give them what they need: higher wages.

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Change In Job Seeker’s Search Parameters

August revealed that those searching for jobs were placing a higher priority on increased wages. According to Indeed’s Hiring Lab, the share of searches for $20 per hour wages has grown 35.5 percent year over year, indicating a change in job seeker’s search parameters likely caused by inflation.

“For employees, they are still reeling from the inflation that is hitting them. Food at home is up 13.5 percent, rent is up 6.7 percent and electricity is up 15.8 percent. These are the staples of the American economy that our employees cannot avoid and it impacts their everyday life.

Now more than ever, employees will look for positions with higher pay rather than keep the job they have,” said Becker, who is also the franchise owner of the Tampa staffing agency PrideStaff. “This can impact and destabilize businesses completely.”

For the past six months, the U.S. has added 465,000 net jobs per month on average and decreased the unemployment rate to 3.5 percent, the same rate as the first quarter of 2020. In July of this year, America had recovered all the jobs lost during the pandemic.

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While these statistics paint a picture of robust job recovery, Becker claims the U.S. workforce participation rate of 62.1 percent says otherwise.

While this rate is nearly two percent higher than April of 2020 — the lowest level of workforce participation since the pandemic began — it is still 1.3 percent lower today than the month before the pandemic started and has remained stagnant throughout 2022, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).


“Despite the low unemployment rate and the number of jobs added each month, businesses are still feeling a shortage of workers due to the drastically low workforce participation rate,” explained Becker. “With the total number of U.S. workers going down along with unemployment rates decreasing, the pool of qualified candidates to fill open positions is getting smaller and smaller.”

For the small pool of candidates in the Tampa Bay area, increased costs of everyday items is taking its toll. For Tampa, the CPI year-over-year change reached 11.2 percent in July, nearly three percentage points higher than the national average, according to the most recent data from the BLS.

Rising Cost Of Living

A new report released by the BLS Tuesday revealed that despite the 10.6 percent decline in the gasoline index, the CPI from August 2021 to August 2022 rose 0.1 percent across the U.S.

Around the country, utilities and cost of living are getting more expensive. Prices for food at home rose 13.5 percent across the U.S. for the year ending in August of 2022, the highest increase since March of 1979, according to a report from the BLS. The same report showed that costs for energy rose 23.8 percent from August 2021 to August 2022.

Compared to the rest of the U.S, Florida is feeling these index increases more than most as told by the amount of money being borrowed. Florida has the third largest credit card debt increase in the U.S., according to a debt study conducted by WalletHub, which showed that Florida’s credit card debt increased by $4.61 billion during the second fiscal quarter of 2022.

According to Becker, whether you’re an employer looking to hire or retain quality workers, wage and salary increase top the list of employee priorities.

“Even those businesses that are fully staffed can be subjected to vacant positions with no one to fill them if the wage or salary isn’t appealing,” said Becker.

Studies show that the average salary increase when changing jobs is nearly 15 percent, while wage growth is less than six percent. With the strain of the economy and the rising cost of living, even those with a job they love will look elsewhere if it means higher pay.”

While an increase in pay is atop the list of employee needs, Becker understands that not all businesses can afford to pay higher salaries, especially those companies forced to slow operations due to the pandemic. For those companies, Becker points to the other perks and benefits that can also attract the right candidates.

Of the employed adults recently surveyed by CareerBuilder, 56 percent say that the work schedule attracts them most in their current role and is especially important to women — 61 percent — compared to men — 51 percent.

Almost half of the workers who were surveyed say that colleagues, fair pay, and work-life balance are most appealing.

In the same survey, CareerBuilder found that the younger demographic — 58 percent of Gen Z — prioritized colleagues, work friends and company culture as attractive features of their job.

The study also showed that 30 percent of workers seek a four-day work week, 28 percent hope to have their birthday off, 24 percent want mental health and wellness benefits and 21 percent prefer to work remotely full time.

About Matt Becker:

Prior to starting PrideStaff, Matt was the Chief Operating Officer for the 2012 Tampa Bay Host Committee for the Republican National Convention where he managed the day-to-day operations of the Host Committee.

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