There might have been no worse time in recent memory to enter the job market than in 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic brought the global economy to a near standstill. Many employers put a temporary halt on hiring, which had a particularly negative impact on young adults seeking entry-level jobs.
Today, the situation is vastly improved. Data from LinkedIn shows that overall hiring rates in 2021 had a strong rebound from pandemic lows, growing 25% year-over-year. The hiring rate for entry-level Gen Z workers grew at a lower rate of 15%, though their prospects are vastly improved vs. a couple of years ago, according to LinkedIn Chief Economist Karin Kimbrough.
“The picture looks much brighter for Gen Z and younger millennials joining the workforce today,” Kimbrough wrote in a column this week for CNN Business. “Despite recent headwinds like inflationary pressures and geopolitical tensions driving economic uncertainty, opportunities still abound for entry-level roles in the U.S.”
Employers plan to hire nearly 30% more new grads in 2022 than they did in 2021, Kimbrough noted, citing a recent survey from the National Association of Colleges and Employers.
The fastest-growing markets for entry-level roles in the U.S. are not in big coastal cities such as New York and San Francisco, but in smaller Sunbelt markets such as Austin, Texas; Chattanooga, Tennessee; and the North Carolina cities of Raleigh and Charlotte. For entry-level workers, these cities are especially attractive.
“They’re more affordable to live in compared to bigger cities, which is especially top of mind given that rent prices are hitting new highs,” Kimbrough wrote.
In terms of industries, the sectors with the biggest gains in entry-level job openings include staffing and recruiting, hospitality, healthcare and biotech. Hospitality in particular has made a strong comeback amid a rise in travel and tourism.
While many new grads put a priority on marketing existing skills, research shows that communicating a willingness to adapt and learn new skills is even more important in today’s job market. Skill sets for many jobs have changed by about 25% since 2015, LinkedIn found, which means job seekers should demonstrate an understanding of the evolving nature of specific industries to improve their chances of being hired.
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