Small businesses seek to woo workers back post pandemic

Small businesses are scrambling to hire enough workers to meet surging demand.

With consumers flocking back to their pre-pandemic routines quicker than some workers are willing and able to rejoin the workforce, businesses are boosting wages, offering bonuses and stretching the limits of their margins to lock in employees.

There were more than 9.2 million jobs open on the last business day of May, according to the Labor Department, but U.S. employment was still down by 6.8 million from its pre-pandemic level by the end of June. Millions more have yet to return to the labor force after losing their jobs during the pandemic, and it’s unclear how many will come back.

A range of pandemic-related forces, including child or family care responsibilities, health concerns and the cushion of expanded unemployment aid, have limited the pool of workers able to fill a flood of jobs.

The squeeze sent wages higher by 3.6 percent year over year in June overall and by 7.2…

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