Labor Market Shows Signs of Weakness Entering 2023, UKG Data Reveals

December experienced third-largest monthly decline in workforce activity since April 2020


National Overview:

The UKG Workforce Activity Report for December 2022 shows the total number of shifts worked1 by people at U.S. businesses fell 2.9% from the prior month, the first significant decline since the omicron-fueled January 2022 reading (-5.1%) and the largest mid-December decline in at least four years.2 The monthly UKG Workforce Recovery Index additionally dropped to 92.9 — its lowest level since March 2021. Current workforce activity levels affirm that the labor market is significantly weaker at the start of 2023 than a year ago.

UKG will discuss the findings in a live labor market briefing on Tuesday, January 3, at 10 a.m. ET (U.S. and Canada). Register to attend.


Dave Gilbertson, vice president, UKG

“Executives across all industries, regions, and business-size segments are facing significant uncertainty when planning for 2023, as consumer demand begins to slow. That uncertainty played through in the labor market this month, as hourly employees were offered fewer shifts in mid-December than mid-November and workforce activity was just 92.9% of the level we saw in December 2021.”

Industry Analysis:

Retail activity fizzled during the historically busy holiday season:

  • Retail, hospitality, and foodservice: -1.4%
  • Healthcare: -1.5%
  • Services and distribution: -3.2%
  • Manufacturing: -3.6%
  • Public sector: -4.1%

Region Snapshot:

Balanced declines across all regions are highest, collectively, since January 2022:

  • Midwest3: -3.0%
  • Northeast4: -3.0%
  • Southeast5: -3.0%
  • West6: -3.0%

Business Size:

Declines at larger organizations may affirm layoffs:

  • Fewer than 100 employees: -2.7%
  • 101-500: -3.0%
  • 501-1,000: -3.0%
  • 1,001-2,500: -2.5%
  • 2,501-5,000: -5.2%
  • More than 5,000: -2.5%


The UKG Workforce Activity Report is a high-frequency index analyzing shift work trends for 4.2 million people at 35,000 U.S. businesses to understand job creation and economic momentum.

About UKG

At UKG, our purpose is people. As strong believers in the power of culture and belonging as the secret to success, we champion great workplaces and build lifelong partnerships with our customers to show what’s possible when businesses invest in their people. Born from a historic merger that created one of the world’s leading HCM cloud companies, our unique Life-work Technology approach to HR, payroll, and workforce management solutions for all people helps more than 70,000 organizations around the globe across every industry anticipate and adapt to their employees’ needs beyond just work. To learn more, visit

Footnote 1: “Shifts worked” is a total derived from aggregated employee time and attendance data and reflects the number of times that employees, especially those who are paid hourly or must be physically present at a workplace to perform their jobs, “clock in” and “clock out” via a timeclock, mobile app, computer, or other device at the beginning and end of each shift.

Footnote 2: UKG recorded a drop in workforce activity levels in December 2022 (-2.9%), as compared with December 2021 (-1.7%), December 2020 (+1.9%), and December 2019 (+1.9%).

Footnote 3: Midwest is defined as Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, and Wisconsin.

Footnote 4: Northeast is defined as Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Footnote 5: Southeast is defined as Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

Footnote 6: West is defined as Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.