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    Entries in labor (54)

    Friday
    Aug182017

    CHART OF THE DAY: There are more job openings in the USA than ever

    I know I have written a couple of versions of this post in the last year or so, but to me, and as the data referenced in the post title keeps increasing, I think it is worth taking a look at the latest job openings data.

    As always courtesy of our pals at the BLS and using the fantastic charting capability from the St. Louis Fed.

    Here's the chart showing the total number of non-farm job openings in the US over the last 10 years or so and hen some words of wisdom and whimsy from me as we get ready to head into the weekend.

    Three quick takes...

    1. It may be hard to see on the chart, but the end of June 2017 data point shows a whopping 6.2 million open jobs in the USA. That is the record high for this measurement since records began to be kept starting in 2000. To give the 6.2 million number a little context, the total US labor force at the end of June is just over 160 million. Said differently, if we could magically fill the 6.2 million openings today, total US employment would jump almost 4%. That is a huge, huge number when talking about this kind of data.

    2. Wages, while growing, are not yet, (maybe never?), catch up to the fact that job openings keep increasing and time to fill metrics also continue to climb. I caught a quote from a random Fed official recently, can't remember which one at the moment, that essentally said something like 'If your business has a hiring problem or you think you have a 'skills gap' problem, and you have not taken steps to meaningfully increase wages and benefits you are offering, then I just don't believe you actually have a problem.' Persistent sluggish wage growth has been the most baffling element of the sustained labor market recovery of the last several years.

    3. I know this is obvious, and I know I have blogged this bit a few times before when considering the tight labor market, but it bears repeating. More and more power is shifting to employees, candidates, graduates - almost anyone with up to date skills and a desire to succeed. Factor in the myriad ways for people to side hustle, and employers have to continued to raise their game and their value props to have any chance of staying competitive in today's market. I am a 'labor' guy at heart, and more leverage and negotiating power shifting to workers just feels like a decent thing to me.

    Have a great weekend all!

    Friday
    Jun302017

    CHART OF THE DAY: All jobs matter

    Super quick shot for a 'let's get out of town for the long weekend' Friday.

    Today's chart comes courtesy of our pals at Bloomberg and depicts the types of jobs that have seen the most total job losses in the first part of 2017.

    Here's the chart. then some quick FREE comments from me. 

    Three quick hits then let's fire up the grill for some hot dogs...

    1. 'Wired' telecommunications jobs seeing the most losses so far in 2017 is not terribly surprising. More and more folks have abandoned a hard phone line at home, and I bet it won't be too much longer until most companies do the same for their employees. 

    2. Most of the rest of the impacted job sectors are in the physical retail space. Department stores, sporting goods stores, general clothing stores, all are under significant pressure from the likes of Amazon, Walmart, and others. I went to one of the local malls a week or two ago, (weird, I know), and it was half-empty and I issued an over/under of 11 months until it closes for good.

    3. I want to go to one more chart for point #3 - one that shows the comparative job losses in department store employment (which we seem to not care about that much) vs. coal mining employment (which, at least in election season, we care about a lot). Take a look...

    Almost 10x more jobs lost in the department stores than in the coal mines. But for whatever reason I bet most folks would have no idea of that disparity.

    Why?

    Some of it is political I suppose. There are pockets of the remaining coal mining jobs that are in important areas and states for electoral purposes. 

    But department stores are, or at least were, everywhere. And the people that work in them probably need and care about their jobs just as much as any coal miner. And if it is because of Amazon or Walmart or changing shopping tastes that thousands or potentially hundreds of thousands of department store employees end up out of work then that is likely more of a national concern than a few hundred coal miners here or there.

    That is not to diminish the coal miners who are at risk. Not at all.

    It's just to make a point that the department store workers matter too. And so do the warehouse workers. And the cashiers. And the bookkeepers. 

    And everyone whose job is under threat from automation, politics, outsourcing, or anything else.

    All jobs matter. And so, too, do the people that work them.

    Whether they live in a swing state or not. Whether they have a PAC or not. Whether we think they are 'good' jobs or not.

    Have a great 4th of July weekend!

    Wednesday
    Jun142017

    CHART OF THE DAY: The Aging Global Population

    I am just back from an extended trip that included stops in China for HR Tech China as well as Japan - two places, Japan in particular, who are dealing with the economic and social challenges of an aging population.

    Usually the 'aging' statistics of a country's people is represented by two statistics. One, the percentage of the population age 65 or older. And two, the ratio of people aged 18-64, (and expected, mostly, to be in the workforce), to people 65 and up, (who, mostly, are no longer in the workforce). This ratio is called the 'dependency ratio' and reflects about how many workers and contributors to a country's social insurance schemes are there for each possibly retired person, many of who need income support from these social programs. 

    Said differently, the higher the ratio, the more workers for each older person, the easier it is for a country to keep their social insurance programs funded and solvent.

    With all that said, I was thinking about this more lately after spending time in Japan, where this challenge is especially acute. But as the data below shows, this challenge of an aging population is more widespread than you might think - and, in time, will surface here in the US as well.

    Take a look at the data below on the dependency ratio worldwide, courtesy of Visual Capitalist, then some FREE comments from me after the chart:

    While many countries face obstacles with aging populations, for some the problem is becoming severe.

    A dependency ratio below 5.0 is generally considered to be the mark by which a country has an 'aging' challenge. Countries like Japan, Italy, Germany, Canada, France, and the United Kingdom all fall below this level.  The United States sits in a slightly better situation with about 27.9% of its population expected to hit 65 or higher by the 2050 – and a dependency ratio of about 9, but in time the US (and the 2nd largest global economy, China), will both face looming demographic issues.

    What does this mean or suggest for organizations and for HR pros?

    Well, depending on the location, industry, and global nature of your business, chances are pretty good that the average age of the workforce is trending up. And it is also likely that since your competitors will be facing these same kinds of challenges that the competition for newer/younger workers to replace retirees or folks transitioningto fewer working hours will become more intense. Lastly, you may sooner than later be forced into thinking about and implementing changes to work practices, structures, and technologies that can better support an older workforce.

    It is an interesting time for sure. I am feeling a little older each day. Good to know it is not just me.

    Have a great day!

    Wednesday
    Apr122017

    It's better to have a job when you're looking for a job

    As the 2007-2008 financial crisis and subsequent economic recession fade further and further into the distance, we don't in 2017 talk about unemployment all that much. The sustained recovery in the labor market has pushed unemployment to near "full employment" levels of about 4.5% in the US, and in many sectors and job roles most employers would report 'good help is hard to find'. Until the robots take over. But that is a different story for another time.

    Back to unemployment though. In 2008 and 2009, there was plenty of discussion about the best ways to help the many, many folks who were out of work to get back into the labor force. Lots of job search gurus appeared online, plenty of networking and support groups were created, and certainly significant governmental support, (cars, banking, insurance), was marshalled to try and stop the bleeding in the labor markets and help get people back to work (or keep them in work).

    Around that time, as the unemployment rate topped at about 10%, one peculiar storyline emerged, and pretty consistently as well - namely that folks who were unemployed, and 'actively' looking for work, were often characterized as less desirable candidates than say someone who was currently employed, and may not even be actively looking for something new. The dream 'passive' candidate if you prefer that term. Lots of anecdotes about hiring managers passing on any candidate who was out of work were shared, and plenty of folks, (I possibly was one of them), opined about how unfair that this kind of (for lack of a better word) discrimination against the unemployed was seemingly more and more prevalent. And anecdotal or not, it certainly seemed that looking for a job when you did not have a job was much, much tougher than looking for one when you were already employed.

    But just how much tougher is it, really?

    A recent study by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York looks to put at least some data around these anecdotes by looking at job search activity by unemployed workers, by employed workers, (both passive and active), and people out of the workforce. The entire report is interesting and worth a read but I thought I would tease out two of the report's most interesting findings about job search, and more importantly, job search outcomes.

    1 - Lots of employed people are actively looking for work - almost one quarter of them 'actively' searched in the trailing four weeks of the survey period

    Not shocking I guess, but also the 23.3% doesn't account for the probably much larger number of employed workers that would be open to at least discussing new opportunities, even if they were not in active search. Said differently, one of the reasons contributing to a bias in favor of employed workers is the fact that just about all employed workers are still in the candidate pool anyway. At least partially in.

    So how does this perceived bias influence outcomes? Here's the money chart from the study, depicting how search behavior and application intensity translate into positive outcomes, i.e. job offers.

    I will help you with the fine print here. Unemployed workers make up about 7 percent of the survey sample. They send out 40 percent of the total job applications, but receive only about 16 percent of the total job offers.

    In contrast, folks who were employed and were actively looking for work make up about 20 percent of the sample but receive almost half of all offers. Further, the employed not looking for work (and who do not apply for any jobs), receive about one‑fourth of all the offers in our sample—more than the unemployed who are the most active searchers and applicants.

    So how much better is it to be employed when looking, (or in many cases not looking) for a new role?

    Well, according to this data, much, much better. Roughly it takes eight times the effort in terms of time spent and four times the application rate for unemployed folks to generate a similar rate of job offers that employed workers realize - many of whom are not looking for work at all.

    Hopefully we won't have another dramatic economic or market shifting incident like the financial crisis that drives up unemployment and will make these findings and their impacts top of mind again. But it is good food for thought for any of us who may not love the job we have now, and are looking for something better.

    We just might want to hold on to that crappy job as long as we can, because having it makes our odds of finding the next (hopefully less crappy) job that much better.

    Monday
    Mar202017

    CHART OF THE DAY: More on the increasing 'Quits' data

    Quick shot for a busy 'Can you believe my Gamecocks are in the Sweet 16?' kind of a Monday.

    Here's just one chart from the latest release of what regular readers recognize as my favorite labor marker report - the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey - aka the 'JOLTS' report. 

    This chart illustrates the amount of 'Quits'  better known in HR speak as Voluntary Separations, compared with the amount of Layoffs and Discharges, AKA, 'Pack your things, son, it's time for you to go' deals.

    Here's the latest chart of this data, then as we all have come to expect by now, some FREE comments from me:

    Three quick observations...

    1. Really interesting right now that these two lines continue to get farther apart, and the gap between Quits and Layoffs/Discharges continues to increase. The delta between the two series is now 1.6 million, with Quits hitting 3.2 million in January, against 'only' 1.6 million Layoffs/Discharges.

    2. The continuing increased in the level of Quits is generally seen as a proxy measure for the overall health of the labor market. The thinking goes that when employees feel more confident in their ability to find alternative work, (either at another company or for themselves), then they are more likely to 'quit' the job they have now. It is a seller's market for labor in some sense. 

    3. If this trend continues, and labor markets continue to tighten, (you can also look at total job openings to get a sense of this), then employers will (according to the immutable laws of supply and demand), be forced to take counter measures. They can either look to reduce 'quits' by raising wages, improving benefits, or striving to become less crappy places to work. Or, they can look to alternate sources of labor - offshoring, outsourcing, automating, etc., in order to find the talent/labor they need.

    The slow and steady economic recovery since the bottom of the last recession marches on. Unless something changes relatively soon, 2017 is shaping up to be a good year for folks who are in demand, have negotiating leverage, and are feeling as confident as ever in their ability to control their careers.

    Have a great week! 

    Go Gamecocks!