As the effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic continue to rage on, the manner in which the national job market has been influenced is still a matter of contention for market experts. On the heels of the pandemic have come the Great Resignation – in which the United States (and world as a whole) underwent elevated levels of job abandonment – and a wholly new work landscape in which the percentage of employees working from home has skyrocketed.
Most companies have been able to successfully pivot to meet these challenges, whether it be implementing remote work capabilities or hiring in droves to combat the Great Resignation and meet renewed demand. Improbably, the pandemic’s largely negative overall economic impact has actually led to a hiring boom, while businesses have “rebranded” the pandemic, in a sense, as a unique opportunity to plug previously unnoticed gaps in their workforces and rethink long-term strategies.
Inevitably, however, the growing pains of this new work environment has largely contributed to an uneasy instability in the national and global economies, which in turn has given rise to widespread fears that a recession is on the horizon. Does this mean that the hiring boom’s days are numbered? According to experts, not necessarily.
Inflation Correlation Does Not Equal Causation
The Great Resignation and work-from-home transitionary period did shift the balance of power somewhat from employer to employee, but during times of economic hardship, most workers tend to prioritize shoring up their savings as a means to prepare for possible hard times ahead. Simply put, this translates to needing a steady job. Indeed, although 70% of Americans expect an economic downturn within a year, unemployment numbers have been consistently strong.
This is not attributed to a stagnation in job supply and demand; rather, increasing job opening numbers have kept pace with increasing employment numbers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of job postings is 61% higher than they were pre-pandemic.
Due to this healthy availability of jobs, the recruiting market is still red-hot and isn’t expected to cool at all before the year is out. Recruiting researchers and economists have found the current market to be “remarkably resilient” and that there remains an “insatiable demand to hire” among most employers.
Slowdowns, Not Shutdowns
Although there have been notable hiring pauses, freezes, or holds in particular sections of particular industries, the effect has not been enough to lead to downward trends in overall national hiring numbers. Despite massive corporations such as Google, Meta, and Microsoft recently admitting that they have either began pumping the brakes on hiring, or plan to in the near future, the job market as a whole has continued to churn steadily forward.
Moreover, despite some industries undergoing temporary hiring pauses, many other industries are experiencing nothing of the sort and are, in fact, as wide open as ever on the hiring front. This includes the financial industry, which is experiencing aggressive growth and boasts a ferociously competitive job market that shows no signs of slowing.
Interestingly, some industry experts say that hiring ‘hold’ announcements are actually good news for the labor market, as intermittent slowdowns represent a ‘normalization’ in job numbers rather than a cause for concern, a means for record high job openings to level off somewhat to match the available labor force.
Still a Bull’s Market for Recruiters
Strong unemployment numbers, tons of available jobs, and a growing concern that tough economic times may be ahead is music to recruiters’ ears. Demand for workers has never been higher and employers are looking to plug gaps left by Great Resignation deserters and find top talent for new roles created through pandemic corporate restructuring.
If that sounds like an overly optimistic view of the job market through rose-colored glasses, the numbers that indicate this steady hiring boom don’t lie. 51% of U.S. companies with under 500 employees are hiring more this year compared to last. 46% plan to increase their hiring rates even more for the next several months. And just 7.6% of companies are decreasing their hiring rates from here on out. As Allie Kelly, CMO at Employ, says: “Have there been some layoffs, pauses, or hiring freezes? Absolutely. Is it enough to influence the larger market? Absolutely not.”
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