Rebuilding Employment: Data on Job Openings

Rebuilding Employment: Data on Job Openings

The starting point for the rebuilding of America’s job base is identifying and rapidly filling the jobs that are available and will be soon.  After tracking 3.4 million job listings daily, across more than 50,000 job boards and corporate sites, analyzing these listings by occupations, skills and qualifications requested to learn the following:

“The market for talent is increasingly dynamic,” said Matt Sigelman, CEO of Burning Glass. “Not only are new jobs being born and old jobs dying off at a quickening pace but we are also seeing the skills required across a broad range of jobs changing even faster. In some jobs, up to 40% of the skills required today are different from those demanded just a decade ago.

I. The sizable hiring even during the depths of the pandemic, and hiring increasing over the past few weeks

Rebuilding employment starts with recognizing the sizable hiring that was ongoing even during March and April, when much of the economy was shut down. Earlier this month, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics latest Job Opportunities and Labor Turnover report found that even in the month of April, 3.5 million hires took place nationwide—well below the 5.1 million hires of the previous month, but still substantial.  For the week of March 2, prior to the pandemic, weekly online job postings totaled 757,276. This number then fell sharply in subsequent weeks, but even at its lowest point the week of May 4, online job postings stood at 396,256.

In the past month, online job listings overall have increased, and were already up to 493,115 the week of May 25. Sigelman expects postings and hiring to continue to increase. “Job posting activity is a leading indicator of where the economy is going because they represent the level of confidence that firms have in their growth,” Sigelman said. “Over the past month, since many states started reopening, we have seen quite a bit of rebound across virtually all sectors. Many of the first ‘green shoots’ popping up have been in the kinds of proximity-based jobs that fell off first: jobs in routine healthcare, personal services, banking, car repair, and the like.  However, we still have a long way to go. The question is how quickly other jobs will return to their pre-COVID hiring levels.”

II. The “Lifeboat Job” and other strategies for navigating the current economy

Sigelman’s advice for unemployed workers in the near term emphasizes “The Lifeboat Job”—described in some detail in “Filling the Lifeboats: Getting Americans Back to Work in the Pandemic”. Sigelman notes that in the current world of job scarcity, unemployed workers need to cast off resistance to taking jobs that are below their educational level, or background level, or skill level. The Lifeboat Job can provide structure and income right away, and often will lead into a better job as the economy recovers.

Lifeboat Jobs are some of the occupations noted above that have been hiring during the past few months and will continue to hire. And a W-2 position is not the only type of Lifeboat; so too are the independent contracting opportunities.  These workers have found lifeboats and sources of work and income.

Beyond the Lifeboat, Sigelman urges unemployed workers to take classes online and use the time to gain new skills, especially workers who have the cushion of unemployment insurance.  “When employers start hiring back up, they won’t necessarily hire the workers they let go,” Sigelman said. “Instead, they will be looking for people with the skills that will be needed for the future. Whether to stay relevant or to get back to work, you are going to need to develop the skills needed to differentiate yourself.  For example, marketing people who build data skills are much more highly sought after than those without them. Now is the time to build those skills.”

III. Glimpses of the Emerging Job Market

Looking further into rebuilding the economy, Sigelman forecasts some broad trends reshaping the job market, in recovery and beyond. For example, Sigelman describes the emergence of what he calls the “readiness economy”. “COVID-19 has forced companies and governments to confront how prepared they are for a crisis, whether in physical infrastructure, public health, cybersecurity, or environmental readiness. We are working now to model what kinds of jobs are likely to be created through such trends.”  With data increasingly the lifeblood of industry, companies will focus even more attention on securing their data. That focus is likely to drive an intense scramble for cybersecurity talent overall and for those with the skills to protect cloud-based data in particular.

Beyond the recovery itself, Sigelman sees the potential for a surge in innovation that could lead to increased demand for those with the right skills. “It’s like watching the tremendous growth that follows a wildfire,” Sigelman reflected. “The crisis has been absolutely devastating but it will also force companies to consider new efficiencies, new technologies, and new business models.” There are already early signs that the pandemic is accelerating the pace of automation. “That means that those workers who bring with them both experience with AI technologies and the human skills to drive automation will be in the catbird’s seat in the post-coronavirus economy.” Similarly, Sigelman sees renewed interest in on shoring boosting jobs in advanced manufacturing and driving up demand for those with key mechatronic and process management skills.

Source:  Michael Bernick via Forbes