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Updated: November 13, 2023 From the Editor

From the Editor: The ups and downs of the labor market

The coronavirus pandemic impacted American and global life in almost every way, ranging from big to small. For the business world, it’s safe to say the longest-lasting effect has been on the labor market (with a close second being commercial real estate and in-office work).

WBJ editor Brad Kane at his desk
WBJ Editor Brad Kane

After the initial shock of the pandemic hit and businesses sorted out how it would influence them, certain industries almost immediately began to see workforce shortages, particularly in hospitality and tourism. Then, the shortages spread to basically every industry. In the nearly four years since the pandemic hit, those problems have lingered, easing at times for some industries but remaining a problem for the economy as a whole. Unemployment rates in Central Massachusetts and statewide are near historic lows.

Hiring was made more complex, too, by the other major event of 2020: The Black Lives Matter protests following the killings of unarmed Black Americans by police around the country. As part of the nationwide reaction, companies became more serious about their diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, which includes trying to hire more people from disadvantaged populations. Those efforts have encountered their own fits and starts in the last three years, as some companies’ commitment to DEI is stronger than others.

With all this in mind, WBJ debuted a new Focus on HR & Recruitment for this edition. Staff Writer Isabel Tehan explores both of these issues in her two feature stories: first with a look at ways to improve diversity hiring in her “Diversity in recruitment” story, followed by a larger look at labor shortages in her “Central Mass. employers work to overcome staffing challenges amid tight labor market” article.

Elsewhere in this edition, WBJ Staff Writer Eric Casey details the latest issues with banking and finance in the marijuana industry in his “Five years after adult-use dispensaries opened, Mass. cannabis businesses have more banking options” story while outgoing Staff Writer Timothy Doyle (see the Brief) in his “After the party” article provides an update on all the major multifamily developments in Worcester, some of which have fallen by the wayside.

It’s safe to say the aftershocks of COVID will reverberate throughout the Central Massachusetts economy for years to come. There will be ups, and there will be downs; but the business community will constantly need to adjust.

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