Eurozone unemployment was unchanged in February compared to an upwardly revised reading for January, data showed on Tuesday, as European furlough schemes limited the impact of the second wave of the pandemic in the fourth quarter on jobs.

The European Union’s statistics office Eurostat said the jobless rate in the 19 countries sharing the euro was 8.3% in February, unchanged from the revised data for January.

“The unemployment rate now shows a tiny second wave effect as January is now reported to have seen a small tick up in unemployment from 8.2 to 8.3%,” said Bert Colijn, eurozone economist at ING bank.

“While the curve has changed a bit, it hardly changes the picture. Given the contraction inactivity and the long closures of certain sectors, the second wave labor market impact remains mild,” he said.

Eurostat numbers showed the number of people without jobs in the eurozone in February rose to 13.571 from 13.523 in January.

“How the labor market performs when the economic rebound starts remains a big question. A quick bounce back is unlikely given how employment usually recovers from a recession but also because furlough schemes still need to be wound down,” he said.

Millions of workers are planning to jump to new jobs or new lines of work after the pandemic eases up.

Why it matters: High-skilled workers with plenty of opportunities are the hardest to replace. This massive reshuffling also will create major headaches for employers, and will likely expand the gaps between men and women in the workplace.

A quarter (26%) of workers plan to look for a job at a different company once the pandemic threat has subsided, according to Prudential's latest Pulse of the American Worker Survey, conducted by Morning Consult in March.

  • That number is even higher (34%) for Millennials, the largest generation in the workforce today.
  • Of those planning to leave their current job, 80% are concerned about career growth, and nearly 75% say the pandemic made them rethink their skill sets.

"If there's one thing that keeps me up at night, it's the talent flight risk," said Prudential Vice-Chair Rob Falzon.

  • Now that the pandemic's economic threat is easing up, business leaders "need to get back to looking more intently at our talent and ensuring we are giving them opportunities even in a remote environment, or we're going to lose them," Falzon said.
  • High-performing workers are the most concerned about career advancement in their current jobs, and they no longer feel geographically tied to local employers in a remote world.

Most workers say they want to work remotely at least part of the time even after offices re-open, multiple surveys suggest. Despite the benefits, "hybrid" environments also create new workplace tensions.

  • Nearly half of remote workers say they'd be nervous about job security if they stayed remote while colleagues returned to the office, per Prudential's survey.

 Worker burnout will also contribute to the "talent flight," as workers put in more hours remotely, take less time off, juggle child care duties and deal with general pandemic stress.

  • Some workers may believe they need to change jobs to get a better grip on work-life balance or find a place where they feel more connected, per Falzon.
  • Nearly half of employees surveyed by Prudential said they feel disconnected to their companies after a year of working remotely, partly because they are missing the benefits of interacting with people outside their teams and getting "face time" with higher-ups in the office. This "culture decay" can lead people to be more likely to hop to a new employer.

 The new work dynamics may have profound consequences for women, who at least initially are less likely to return full time to the worksite.

  • This may worsen the gender pay gap if managers perceive on-site workers to be higher performers, Axios' Erica Pandey has reported.
  • And while white-collar workers may be eager to move around, people who lost their service, retail, and hospitality industry jobs are less likely to have new opportunities for quite some time. Many will need to learn new skills for other types of jobs.

People are becoming more optimistic about their financial and professional prospects as the pandemic progresses, according to new figures from Oliver Wyman's ongoing global consumer survey.

  • That may suggest people will be willing to look for new options later this year.
  • Yes, but: There's a gender gap. Men are 1.5 times more optimistic than women about their financial wellbeing and 1.2 times more optimistic than women about their professional careers, per the survey.

 A key part of rebuilding after COVID-19 will be ensuring companies do not create second-class citizens in a hybrid workplace, and that workers — particularly women — have equitable opportunities, said Ana Kreacic, partner and chief operating officer of the Oliver Wyman Forum.