Decline in Unemployment Claims (Again)

According to the Department of Labor, the number of new claims for unemployment benefits declined again last week. This is another indication that the job market seems to be healthy and gaining momentum. Taken across the entire economy, businesses are not laying people off (although there are always industry pockets where lay off occur).


July Job Gains Beat Predictions

The U.S. economy added 209,000 in July, beating expectations by nearly 30,000. The unemployment rate went down from 4.4% to 4.3%, the lowest since March 2001. In addition, job gains for May and June were revised upward by 2,000 new jobs. Since January of 2017, the U.S. economy has added approximately 1.3M new jobs.

The number of employed Americans is 153.5 million. The employment-to-population ratio has increased to 60.2 percent – the highest level since February 2009. Adding to the good news of the job gains is wage growth. Wage growth has increased by 2.5% on a 12-month basis.

All of these numbers are good news for the jobs market and the economy. There are jobs available in the market and employers are hiring. Wages are moving up which normally signals consumer spending which further spurs economic growth.

By and large, if a job seeker wants to work and has skills needed by an employer, there is a job available.

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New Claims for Unemployment Benefits Fall

New claims for unemployment benefits fell last week. The drop to 233,000 is good news and an indication that companies are not reducing their workforce.

Late summer is an interesting time of year for employment in that summer jobs start to wind down and come to an end. Analysts state that the interesting fact this year is that many companies did not hire as many summer employees as previous years. This means that fewer will be laid off as the season ends.

Strong Gains in June Jobs Report

The U.S. economy added 222,000 jobs in June, more than anticipated. April and May reports were revised upward to 207,000 and 152,000 respectively. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, during the first six months of this year the economy has added over 1,100,000 new jobs.

The unemployment rate ticked up a tenth of a percent to 4.4% which is steady, if not slightly good news. More people are re-engaging in the labor market as they look for employment (which affects the unemployment rate). In the course of time, there should start to be a rise in the labor participation rate which has been at historic lows for an extended period of time.

For job seekers, the trend of job creation is positive news. The jobs market is healthy and for those that have the requisite skills needed by employers and execute an effective job search strategy, opportunities are available and can be found.

Check out The Motivated Series of job search books. They include: The Motivated Job Search (and accompanying workbook), The Motivated Networker, and Over 50 and Motivated.

A Discussion about Wage Growth

According to economic analysts, the job market (with its high demand for employees) should be pushing wages and compensation up by now. The unemployment rate is very low (4.3%) and some seem to believe we are at “full employment.” A reasonable conclusion would be that there is, or should be, a shortage of available employees. As a result and by application of the law of supply and demand, there should be evidence of higher wages and compensation, right? Not this time.

Under the current situation, the issue affecting wages and compensation is the skills-gap between what employers need and what the job seekers/employees offers. There are not enough job seekers/employees with the required skills to take the jobs being offered by employers – regardless of the pay. This will be a significant on-going problem.

In today’s economic environment, employers are not interested in hiring a job seeker/employee who will not be quickly contribute to the company’s bottom line. They need immediate impact. Any wage and compensation increases in the job market are likely taking place to lure experienced employees from one company to another.

How could this market dynamic affect a job search? As a job seeker, a pivotal element of your job search is to present yourself to an employer with the skills that will immediately provide a benefit. Identify your skills (including transferable skills) with accompanying accomplishments using those skills. When you do, you position yourself to possibly improve the monetary offer from the employer.

What Job Seekers Want in a New Opportunity

According to Business Insider and a recently released survey by Gallup Research, here are the top 5 things job seekers are looking for in their next job:

1. The opportunity to do what they do best – 60% of job seekers said being able to do what they do best was very important for them in their new role. They want a strong match between their skills and the requirements of the role.

2. Better work-life balance and personal well-being – 53% of job seekers said that a good work-life balance and a better well-being are very important to them. Work is important, but having an employer that understands work-life balance is important too.

3. Job stability and security – 51% of both millennials and Gen Xers are looking for stability and security in their roles. This would most certainly hold true for other job seekers regardless of tenure. Job seekers want to work for companies that they believe in, develop their skills and careers, and grow with the company.

4. Opportunity to work for a company with a brand or reputation – Working for a company with brand recognition and a good reputation are factors when job seekers look for a new job. Job seekers want to be proud of the companies that they work for. They want to work for companies that are aligned with their values.

5. Money – 41% of job seekers said that more money was important when they were considering a new opportunity. Although compensation was not the only driving motivation, it is important. As their skills and contribution grow, job seekers expect their salaries to grow too.

As an employer, understanding these motivations could help position your company and job opportunity to attract and retain new employees.

Click here to read the Gallup Research article.

Employment – Skills Gap

The number of job openings in April rose to the highest level seen since records were kept. There are now over 6 million job openings. Yet, there are still 6.9 million unemployed people. Now, it would seem logical that this problem would resolve itself, right? There are 6.9 million unemployed people and 6 million open jobs. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy.

Analysts suggest that about half of the 6 million unemployed (3 million) have the desire to work but lack the skills to fill open positions. This is a skills-gap problem. Employers do not need low skilled employees. Rather, our economy has evolved and the demand now is for skilled employees who can contribute immediately. These are employees with the right skills, education and experience. The pool of potential employees in the jobs market cannot fill the demand for these openings.

Compounding the problem, some employers have moved away from training employees due to the cost of training. They also fear losing those trained employees to another company who can offer better compensation, benefits, and opportunity. This is a big problem for businesses as they struggle to defend against other companies recruiting their trained employees.

May Jobs Report Reflects Continued Job Growth

The May jobs report indicated a gain of 138,000 new jobs in May. This pushed the unemployment rate down to 4.3%. Depending upon what source you choose to rely on (Bureau of Labor Statistics or ADP), the U.S. economy has added over 650,000 new jobs since the beginning of the year. This is a good news!

There are some analysts that suggest that the U.S. jobs market is at or nearing full employment. If so, the next development should be some upward movement in wages as companies compete for employees.

More Confidence in the Jobs Market

The Bureau of Labor Statistics generates data on job openings, hires, and separations. It is a survey referred to as the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS). It recently showed that the pace of “quitting” is now over 2.0%. This is an indication that employees feel comfortable with the economy and their job prospects to quit and pursue new employment.

It also indicated that more highly paid employees are separating from their employment than is normally the case as well.

Click here to read the full article.

Employment Index Number Is Good From The Conference Board

The Conference Board is an independent, non-partisan, and non-profit organization that provides business insight. As a part of its services, it tracks employment trends by combining information from a variety of sources into one index – The Employment Trends Index.

This index is currently at 132.64 which by itself does not mean that much until you compare it to the Index reading of the same time last year. The Index has improved 4.1% over the course of the last twelve months.

“The Employment Trends Index has been expanding rapidly in 2017, suggesting that robust job growth will continue into the summer,” said Gad Levanon, Chief Economist, North America, at The Conference Board. “A tight labor market is about to get much tighter, with solid employment growth occurring at a time when there is almost no growth in the working-age population.”

Pulled all together, this is good news for the general jobs market for those looking for jobs.

Click here to read the full article.