ECI Release Briefing: Indexed Business Costs to August 2023

Transactions on the Instawork platform track the pay of hourly workers and the total cost of their shifts to local businesses. This briefing includes indexed cost trends for various roles in regions across the United States and Canada. 

Because the Instawork platform is part of a competitive labor market for hourly work, the trends shown here for total business costs are expected to follow the costs of other sources of staffing over time. Data used in this briefing may include data on future shifts that have been booked on the Instawork platform but have not yet taken place.

Business cost trends

Labor costs have been largely stable over the past quarter. Increased employment and labor supply, especially in customer-facing roles, are keeping costs contained across many industries. Advance data suggest there may be some small upticks in costs in August.

Costs for custodial roles and higher-skill warehouse roles look to resume their climb in August, as an imminent increase in activity in the supply chain drives labor demand in the goods-producing sector. With inventories starting to be cleared throughout the supply chain, this trend is set to continue into the holiday period.

Here are the trends in business costs for 14 roles transacted on the Instawork platform where we have sufficient data for a time series beginning in July 2021. The charts include data for shifts in August 2023 that have already been booked, where available:

Hospitality and food service

Hourly costs for hospitality roles are still at or below their peak levels from the winter holidays. After years of shortfalls in employment, the industry finally has labor supply more commensurate with demand.


Event staff had slightly higher hourly costs in the past quarter, as the events season hit its apex, and costs for counter staff and cashiers have been unchanged since May. Costs for concession and stand workers bounced around but settled only 1% below their level in April.

Industrial and other services

Hourly costs for custodial roles continued their long and climb, now up roughly 7% year over year. Overall employment in this area has been flat since March 2022 after a steep recovery early in the Covid-19 pandemic, so flexible labor is important to filling demand. In the meantime, hourly costs for warehouse roles were steady, except for a possible new uptick for higher-skill roles coming in August.


We will continue to track these changes in business costs in the quarters to come. We welcome your suggestions for additions to this briefing.

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