Rarely has such a robust labour market been so thoroughly scoured for signs of impending doom.
Many workers landed their dream situation in the exceptionally tight labour market, which gave them uncommon leverage to gain flexibility, seniority and higher wages. Unemployment remains just above the half-century low reached in early 2020, yet workers’ fears about an uncertain future are growing with recent high-profile layoffs and rescinded job offers in certain sectors.
Does this mean you should lower your salary expectations the next time you are up for a promotion or a new job? Or settle for a job with more security as a recession looms?
Not necessarily. Now is still a good time to vie for a new opportunity or more money. The demand for talent is strong and many employers are contending with significant staffing challenges. Economists predicting a downturn in the coming year don’t expect unemployment to rise significantly. Workers have the upper hand, according to these five data points from June.
Nearly half of 1,700 workers polled in June by the Society for Human Resource Management said they would seek a remote role for their next job. For workers looking to work remotely, 9.1 per cent, of job postings on Indeed.com advertised remote work in June, the latest month available, compared with under 3 per cent in 2019.
The ability to work from home still varies by occupation. Under 40 per cent of posts for software-developer jobs on Indeed.com in May allowed remote work at least part of the time, making it the most flexible position of any tracked on the platform. Other roles with high levels of work-from-home options include IT, marketing, mathematics and user-experience design.
Growth in the number of jobs advertised on platforms such as Indeed.com and LinkedIn is starting to drift down. But this is a plateau, not a plunge, according to Nick Bunker, an economist at Indeed. Job postings are 53.8 per cent higher than they were in February 2020, during a strong labour market before the pandemic took hold.
Fewer workers are handing in resignations than in November 2021, when the percentage of people quitting jobs hit a record high. But employees continue to job-hop with vigour: 4.3 million workers quit their jobs in May.
The majority of workers who left their jobs in the past two years took roles in other industries, according to a survey of more than 13,000 workers conducted between February and April by consulting firm McKinsey & Co.
For employers in industries such as finance and insurance, where more than half of those who quit have left the sector, those moves have led to worker shortages that could benefit job seekers.
Job cuts remain relatively low, but concerns are growing. More than three-quarters of US workers fear losing their jobs if there is a recession, according to a survey of more than 1,000 employees conducted in June by staffing firm Insight Global. The layoff rate as measured by federal data was 0.9 per cent in May.
Outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc., which tracks monthly layoffs, found that job cuts rose between May and June. Cuts have been concentrated in industries such as technology, automotive and consumer products – those affected most by rising interest rates, supply-chain issues and a slowdown in pandemic-driven demand for goods.
There are currently 11.3 million open jobs in the US, according to federal data – almost two open jobs for every person who is unemployed and looking for work. Even as some sectors pull back on hiring, industries like leisure and hospitality are struggling to staff up.
Some employers are looking well beyond their typical hiring pools to find the talent they need. The number of involuntary part-time workers – those who want full-time work but can’t find it or have had their hours cut – declined by more than 700,000 in June to 3.6 million, well below its February 2020 level of 4.4 million.
- The Wall Street report