People are getting paid to take a vacation already

Plus, all the post-pandemic booms, from beauty to jobs

Apr 16, 2021 | Current events
Article headline image

Putting the “paid” in PTO

After a year of lockdowns, people are itching to take a vacation. But even with travel picking up as vaccinations roll out, hours of PTO are still sitting unused. In February, requests for time off on the HR platform Zenefits were down 26% from the previous year. Reasons for this vary, from worrying about job security to seeing less need to take a break when WFH. While the pandemic brought unforeseen upsides for employers, with workers replacing commute time with more work, some companies have taken drastic measures to push their employees to use their vacation time. Take PricewaterhouseCoopers: the consulting and accounting firm is using cash bonuses to get its US-based employees to take long-overdue vacations, offering them $250 for every 40 hours of vacation time used. The incentive, which is capped at $1,000 a year per worker, could cost the company millions, but the last-ditch effort also means avoiding burnout, an end-of-year crunch, and the liability of paying out unused PTO when an employee leaves. Other companies, including Citigroup, have added company-wide days off to encourage everyone to log off together.

Dust off that resume

US job openings hit a stunning two-year high of 7.4 million in February, which is 5.1% higher than their pre-pandemic level at the same time last year. With economic activity picking up, job growth continued to blow past expectations in March when nonfarm payrolls rose by 916,000 and the unemployment rate fell to 6%. Certain sectors have more vacancies to fill than others: fast food, manufacturing, and airlines can't hire fast enough and are even facing labor shortages. As Uber anticipates higher demand for rides, the company plans to spend $250 million on sign-up bonuses and other incentives to get more drivers back on the road. If you’re having trouble finding work where you live, try searching in the hottest pandemic job markets in the US. Salt Lake City, Austin, Denver, Indianapolis, and Kansas City all made the list. Job seekers still face stiff competition with 1.4 unemployed people for every open job in February, compared to 0.82 a year ago. But if you can afford to be picky, don’t forget to ask if you can bring your dog to work.

The high cost of vaccine refusal

Starting Monday, all US adults will become eligible for a Covid-19 vaccine, but 25% of Americans are unwilling to get the poke. Concerns range from vaccine safety and rushed clinical trials to a general distrust in the medical system. What does that mean for the vaccinated? For one thing, vaccine refusal could cost us billions over the next few decades. A new analysis studying a single measles outbreak from 2019 found 61 out of the 72 infected were unvaccinated, and the costs were estimated to be $3.4 million. Future Covid-19 infections of unvaccinated people could cost billions in personal insurance premiums and tax dollars to cover the uninsured. Not to mention contact tracing and job loss. Experts worry if we’re below a vaccination rate of 60–70% come fall, we could tip into another emergency situation. It’s hard to imagine more seasons in lockdown, but if 2020 taught us something, it’s that anything can happen.

America’s post-pandemic boom is lookin’ hot

For many of us, beauty has taken a back seat this past year (goodbye lipstick, hello banana bread). But as a whole, demand for beauty products didn’t stop, it grew. To start, L’Oreal’s online sales jumped a whopping 62% in 2020. How is the beauty industry growing, despite many of us having nowhere to go? Well, we simply changed what we spent our money on and increased how much we spent. And this trend isn’t going anywhere. We’re starting to show our faces in public again and want to look better than ever — even if that means changing our appearances entirely. L’Oreal’s sales grew 4.8% in the last 3 months of 2020 and continued to plump well into the first quarter of 2021. The beauty brand is expecting a big rebound in makeup sales reminiscent of the post-war boom of the Roaring Twenties. And salon and spa appointments are booking up. At GlossGenius, a scheduling service for US-based salons and spas, nationwide bookings have gone up over 20% since the start of 2021. Simply put, hot girl summer is just getting started.