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Introducing the DailyPay Reopen America Index

written by Colin Kelley

June 14, 2021: Industry Highlights

QSR hiring continues to improve

Quick Service Restaurants continue to experience positive hiring numbers. Hiring is up 4% nationwide since the industry’s low point during the middle of May, and up 1% since the start of June. Since May, the majority of U.S. states have seen positive hiring growth. The largest hiring increases were in predominantly rural, car-dependent states like Iowa (+15%), Nebraska (+12%) and Vermont (12%)

Hospitality and Hotel hiring remains strong

The Index numbers reveal a slight hiring slowdown, which aligns with some troubling reports released this month. The index shows that in the past five weeks, hiring is up 7% nationally, compared to the 27% increase it saw during the previous five weeks. The larger April to May increase was likely an anomaly due to the industry’s ramped-up efforts to immediately hire after most state COVID restrictions were lifted. While the ensuing month-over-month increases will likely be lower than we saw in the spring, hiring is still trending positively nationwide. 

The largest Hospitality and Hotel increases since May are in the Northeast and Pacific Northwest

Regionally, the Index is seeing increased hiring in some of the colder coastal areas of the country that now have warmer temperatures, high vaccination rates and reduced COVID restrictions:

  • Alaska +20%
  • Washington +23%
  • New York +10%
  • Massachusetts +7%

Emerging industry to track

This summer, keep an eye on Caregiver hiring. The industry continues to experience small and steady week-over-week hiring increases over the past month (+3%), with high regional increases in New York (+16%), Iowa, Alabama and Maine (+4%).

June 7, 2021: May Industry Recap

Quick Service Restaurants

QSR hiring has struggled throughout most of 2021. The industry has made numerous headlines that highlight the unprecedented lack of applications for open positions. 

During the second week of May, McDonald’s and Chipotle announced plans to raise wages to lure job seekers away from retailers like Target and Amazon, both of which offer at least $15/hr. 

The Reopen America Index numbers from the middle of May to the first week of June show a 3% increase in hiring, a small but significant change in the right direction for QSRs. 

Keep an eye on the QSR index over the next few weeks to see if the trend continues, especially as more and more students apply for summer jobs. 

States that experienced growth from the middle of May to the first week of June:

  • Iowa +12%
  • Nebraska +7%
  • Illinois +3%
  • South Carolina +2%

Consumer Services

Consumer services continues to have the most consistent hiring growth in 2021, averaging a monthly increase of 5%. Nationwide hiring increased in May by an additional 4%.

The majority of states tracked by the Index saw positive growth during the month of May; top performers included:

  • Illinois +82%
  • South Carolina +43%
  • Michigan +11%
  • California +10%


The Hospitality & Hotel industry saw its largest monthly hiring increase in May. Hiring increased nationwide by 11% and every single state tracked in the Reopen America Index saw an increase. Several states experienced their first month-over-month growth in May, including:

  • Ohio +24%
  • Washington +15%
  • Alaska +12%
  • Nevada +8%
  • Massachusetts +6%
  • New York +5%


Nationwide hiring for caregivers had been trending downward since March but finally began to trend upward in May. Between the middle of May and the first week of June, hiring increased by 1%. 

May’s nationwide hiring was helped by several states that saw significant growth, including:

  • New York +15%
  • Mississippi +14%
  • New Jersey +5%
  • Iowa +4%
  • Michigan +4%
  • Tennessee +4%

Health Care

Though health care spending has rebounded from the pandemic, industry hiring continues to struggle nationwide. Hiring decreased 46% nationwide during May. Some states including California, Pennsylvania,and North Carolina maintained stable health care numbers, and a select few saw an increase in May, including:

  • South Carolina +3%
  • Tennessee +6%
  • Ohio +2%
  • Maryland +2%


Supermarket hiring declined nationwide by 23% during May. Similar to the struggles of many QSRs, supermarket wages ($11.17/hr average national minimum) lag behind other industries, like Hospitality and Hotels (average pay for non-supervisory hotel workers is $15.68/hour), and major retailers, like Target, who is offering at least $15/hour. 

Regionally, the Midwest and the South saw several states that over-indexed the national trend. Minnesota, Missouri and Kansas maintained steady hiring numbers throughout the month. 

In the South, several states saw a decent hiring increase in May, including Georgia (+13%), South Carolina (+7%), Louisiana (+4%) and Tennessee (+2%).

If you work in an industry featured in this Index or you want to know more about how you can stay ahead of the curve as America reopens, here are a few resources that might interest you:

Read how companies are leveraging DailyPay to tackle labor challenges, according to Mercator Advisory Group’s New Study

Mercator Advisory Group’s “Modernizing Payroll Through Earned Wage Access ” is available for download here.

See Jeanniey Walden, CIMO of DailyPay, share on Morning Blend how DailyPay is supporting businesses as America reopens

Watch on KTNV Las Vegas how we’re helping U.S. businesses and how DailyPay can attract top talent.

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Trend Spotlight

The gradual return of seasonal travel has resulted in rising Hospitality/Hotel numbers in pockets of the US, particularly in the Midwest, South Central, and the Southern Atlantic Coast.

  • Indiana, which hosted the return of the NCAA March Madness Tournament, saw a 28% increase in Hospitality and Hotel hiring between the first week of January and the last week of March.
  • Kentucky’s numbers are up 60%, since Jan 1, indicating that the state’s travel and tourism weathered devastation 2020 and is slowly regaining the record-setting momentum it experienced in 2019.1
  • Missouri’s Hospitality numbers are up 10% since Jan 1, in anticipation of a Memorial Day start to the summer tourism season, which attracts millions to areas such as Branson and the Lake of the Ozarks.
  • States along the Southern Atlantic coast, including Florida, North and South Carolina are seeing modest gains this spring. This trend will likely continue to grow and move its way up the Atlantic Coast as the weather warms. We should begin to see rising Hospitality/Hotel numbers in DC, New York, and Massachusetts in the coming months.

1 https://altarum.org/publications/april-2021-health-sector-economic-indicators-briefs

2 https://www.lanereport.com/140194/2021/04/summer-travel-expected-to-warm-up/