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2019 Mid-Year Employment Market Update

Staying abreast of the employment market landscape is a crucial part of successfully navigating the recruiting industry. This includes observing trends and economic impacts on companies, hiring forecasts, and job candidate behaviors. Being in the trenches on a daily basis allows external recruiters to focus on what is evolving as well as what remains stagnant. As a result, they can promote more successful candidate sourcing and ultimately better hires for client companies. As such, it is important to be able to provide market updates on a regular basis.

As we approach mid-2019, it appears that the booming labor market will continue to flourish. Personal incomes are rising, payrolls are increasing, and overall consumer spending is up; all indictors of a continued strong economy. In addition, the number of new jobs being added each month continues to be higher than economists’ expectations. 

Predictions going into 2019 have been noticeably accurate in terms of employment market trends. Here is what we are seeing as we move into the summer months:

  • Remarkably Low Unemployment: The U.S. unemployment rate recently fell to a 49-year low, coming in at 3.6%. There is, however, an interesting finding to note on the unemployment numbers. Although they are the lowest they’ve been since 1969, part of that is attributed to steady decrease in “labor force participation.”  That means that fewer people are working or looking for work for a variety of factors.
  • Help Wanted: Over 60% of US employers are, or plan to, hire additional full-time, permanent workers moving forward. Job openings are at an all-time high, recently hitting 7.5 million according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is further complicating the ability for companies to source and recruit qualified talent as the concept of supply and demand is at play.  More jobs than people to fill them.  The demand for highly skilled jobs and technology-related roles continues to trend upwards with no end in sight.
  • Wage Growth: Salaries continue to rise as employers struggle to retain top-performers and to attract new talent. Along those lines, more companies are offering signing bonuses than ever before. As good employees have options, employers are faced with making the strategic decision to evaluate compensation plans.
  • Perks Galore: More and more employers are using incentives to attract and retain talent, irrespective of company size or industry. Companies are offering employee discounts, the ability to work remotely, and/or implementing flextime, etc. Perks in the office are also becoming mainstream: casual dress, ping-pong at lunch, free soda and beer on Friday. Companies are becoming very creative in ways to engage employees and improve job satisfaction. 
  • Non-traditional Jobs: “Gig Work” continues to increase. “In a gig economy, temporary, flexible jobs are commonplace, and companies tend toward hiring independent contractors and freelancers instead of full-time employees.” The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 55 million people (more than 35% of the U.S. workforce) are gig workers. That number is projected to jump to 43% by 2020. “Blended Positions” are also becoming more prevalent in that many job functions are intersecting with other areas creating dual roles, at best.  Employees are being asked to wear multiple hats many times due to vacancies and talent shortages, blurring the lines of traditional job functions and titles.

The now well-established, candidate-driven employment market (no longer a trend, but the standard) has settled across nearly all industries and positions.  The well-fought war for talent has turned into an outright crisis for most organizations.  Nearly 75% of employers have difficulty sourcing candidates, and 45% are unable to find talent with the appropriate skill sets.

As a result of this crisis, companies who never considered using external recruiters are now realizing the value in forging this type of strategic partnership to assist their recruiting and hiring efforts.  30% of hiring authorities in a recent study said use of external recruiters has either somewhat or greatly increased over the past year.  At a time when companies are struggling to fill open positions, building a relationship with a trusted recruiter who understands company culture—as well as the soft and hard skills required to successfully perform a job—allows organizations to focus on company goals outside of recruiting the talent needed to bring that to fruition.