The October jobs report contained good news for people looking for work: the nation added 531,000 jobs. At the same time, the unemployment rate ticked down 0.2 percentage point to 4.6% — continuing the steady drop from when the unemployment rate stood at 6.3% in January.
The increase in jobs occurred across the spectrum: leisure and hospitality, manufacturing, transportation and warehousing and professional and business services. The jobs growth in October showed improvement over the September numbers, when just 194,000 jobs were added, far below the forecast of 500,000. But do the relatively rosy employment numbers mean the U.S. economy is over the coronavirus-related hump? President Joe Biden thinks so.
“Another great day for our recovery: America’s getting back to work,” President Biden told reporters on Nov. 5, the day the report was released. “Our economy is starting to work for more Americans thanks to the economic plan we put through in Congress earlier this year. And a successful vaccine deployment.”
True — the U.S. has come a full 180 degrees from 18 months ago when the shutting down of retailers, restaurants and businesses to stop the spread of the virus put millions of people out of work. But the country may not be quite back to pre-pandemic levels. The economy is generating more jobs, yes, but there isn’t a worker to fill every opening.
“For workers across all industries, they are finding it a great time to look. The great disparity in supply and demand has created a job market heavily in favor of the worker and many workers are taking advantage of these favorable conditions — almost 3% (4.3 million) of the entire workforce quit their jobs in August,” said Harley Lippman, the founder and CEO of Genesis 10, a leading IT talent recruiter. “Many workers are looking for a new job, a career transition or seeking out jobs that offer greater work/life balance or flexibility.”
The fact that demand for workers across almost all sectors is greater than the supply of people looking for those jobs means economic recovery can’t go into full swing. And it’s got businesses scrambling.
“The disparity between supply and demand is so great that companies have taken a historically aggressive approach to expanding their recruiting organization,” he said. “For example, there are many large employers looking to each hire 500 to 1,000-plus recruiters in Q3 and Q4. In addition. the national demand for recruiters is up by 150%-180% compared to one year ago while the supply of available recruiters is down by 25%-50% during that same period of time.”
Companies Want You
The money infused by the federal government into the economy has helped companies prepare their readiness to add workers — another boon for people looking for a job.
“Many companies are aggressively hiring to take advantage of the expanded market-share available to them,” Lippman said. “The historically swift economic rebound combined with government subsidization during the pandemic has many companies flush with cash — they are looking to reinvest those profits, requiring additional labor for the build-out of tools, facilities, automation, technology, product development and services.”
But not everyone wants a job.
There are several factors keeping Americans out of the workforce, Lippman said. They include older workers retiring, whether out of coronavirus fears, enough money in the bank or new life priorities; fewer options for day care and schools not returning to full in-person learning, leaving a parent at home; workers uncomfortable being near others because of the virus; increased financial status of some workers, such as in home values; and immigration policies limiting the number of new workers.
Will the Job Market Stay Strong?
For job seekers, they can expect a strong market in which to find a job to continue. With the rapidly approaching holidays, retailers across the country have “help wanted” signs out. And the hospitality industry, such as restaurants, can’t find enough workers to keep their doors open.
“Of those 531,000 jobs added, 119,000 were at restaurants and bars,” Lippman said. “This data would make me wishful that my favorite restaurants would open back up, but the restaurant industry is still down 759,000 jobs/people compared to pre-pandemic levels. We expect that the restaurant will continue to show strong recovery but will likely have a long-term shortage of workers.”
All signs point, then, to this being a great time for Americans to find a new job or a new career. Just follow the trail of “help wanted” signs.
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