The economy is recovering but plenty of pandemic-era problems remain: Working parents are struggling to find adequate child care, and people in jobs that require face-to-face interactions must weigh the health risks of returning to work.
Big retailers are taking notice, Best Buy CEO Corie Barry told CNN Business’ Nathaniel Meyersohn during a media call discussing the company’s earnings Thursday.
Even as sales are ramping up, Best Buy is seeing a dip in job applications — although it does still receive more applications than it has open positions, Barry said.
There are four major reasons for this, she added.
The first is the ongoing struggle of parents dealing with children at home. “There is a real lack of childcare that still exists,” Barry said.
While the economy is in the process of fully reopening, some schools and day care centers don’t yet operate as they did pre-pandemic — so some working parents are still being forced to balance their child care responsibilities with their jobs. That’s even trickier for those who have to leave their homes to work.
Children as young as 12 years old can now get vaccinated in the United States, but younger kids aren’t eligible yet. Parents with young children still have to weigh the Covid-19 risks in their day-to-day lives for a while longer.
Secondly, “there are still health concerns,” Barry said. “And people who maybe don’t want a career in retail due to health concerns.”
Third, retail is among the jobs that have changed most heavily over the last year. At many companies staff members were turned into essential front-line workers overnight, as unlike those in other industries they couldn’t work from home. Not every retail worker may want to continue to sign up for that as the pandemic continues.
Finally, companies like Best Buy are facing more competition for staff. Major companies including Under Armour, Amazon and Walmart, have raised their minimum wage to attract workers.
And picking a job during these times is no longer just about money.
Now, said Barry, “it’s about a wholesome set of benefits that we can put in place, and flexibility that we can put in place, so that we’re able to retain a diverse workforce.”