‘You Have to Work Extra to Hire People’: What Companies Have Been Saying About Jobs

As companies reported their latest quarterly earnings in recent weeks, hiring, wages and head counts were popular topics as analysts quizzed executives about their plans.

Some said they were avoiding expanding their payrolls as rapidly as in the past. Others said that rising wages remained a worry for their bottom lines. And many still looking to hire said that attracting and retaining workers was difficult as the labor market remained robust.

“You have to work extra to hire people and to keep people,” Andrew Watterson, the chief operating officer of Southwest Airlines, said on a call with analysts. “Our clients still grapple with labor shortages,” said Martine Ferland, who runs the consultancy Mercer.

Even so, the rate of workers quitting their jobs, a measure of workers’ confidence in their prospects and bargaining power, continued to fall in June, according to data released Tuesday. “If you think about our turnover coming down, that means we don’t have as many people we’re hiring as we were before,” said Rick Cardenas, the chief executive of Darden Restaurants, owner of the Olive Garden chain.

Wage growth has also cooled in recent months, but remained robust last month, rising 4.4 percent from a year earlier. “We still face above normal levels of wage and benefit cost inflation in our cost structure,” Andre Schulten, the finance chief at the consumer goods company Procter & Gamble, said on a call with analysts.

Kathryn A. Mikells, the chief financial officer of Exxon Mobil, said that the oil giant had seen lower prices for some of its materials like chemicals and sand, but “as it relates to things where labor is a high component of the cost, I would say we’re not yet necessarily seeing that deflationary pressure coming through yet.”

Anthony Wood, the chief executive of Roku, the streaming device maker, told analysts that the company would continue hiring, but planned to do so outside of the United States, in places where workers “are just less expensive than Silicon Valley engineers.”

Other companies, especially in the tech industry, said that they had become more judicious about hiring, with some freezing payrolls or even cutting jobs.

Mark Zuckerberg of Meta, which cut tens of thousands of jobs in multiple rounds of layoffs since late last year, said last week that “newly budgeted head count growth is going to be relatively low” at the company, which owns Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. Sundar Pichai of Alphabet said that the tech giant would “continue to slow our expense growth and pace of hiring.”

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