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Employment Data Suggests Tighter Labor Market Ahead

May 13th, 2019

JOLTS May 2019

The employment numbers in the latest government reports paint a picture of a continuing tough labor market for employers.

Last week, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the number of job openings stood at 7.49 million at the end of March, the most since the government began tracking openings in 2000. Meanwhile, from a report the week prior, the number of unemployed fell to 5.8 million, yielding an unemployment rate of 3.6%, the lowest in a half century.

These two data points alone show how difficult it can be to fill jobs.

For employers unwilling to hire from the pool of the unemployed or unable to find the right candidates among them, the only other choices are to source from the vast number of people not in the labor force, or from among the already employed.

Let's take a look at these options. Most of the 96 million Americans not in the labor force are children, students, the disabled, retirees and stay at home parents and family caregivers. Identifying suitable candidates and convincing them to rejoin the labor force at your company can be especially difficult.

That leaves the already employed. And what we're seeing is just about the highest percentage of workers willing to change jobs in a decade. In March, 2.5% of workers changed jobs. That's an annual rate of 30%.

Why are so many workers willing to jump ship? Career advancement or change, company culture and family situation are all among the reasons for changing jobs. The number one reason, according to most surveys, is money.

With the annual pay increase for private sector workers averaging 3.2%, while changing jobs typically includes a 10% pay bump, is it any wonder workers are quitting in record numbers?

Before you lose another good worker to a competitor, consider whether a bigger salary increase wouldn't make more sense -- and cents -- than having to become just one more of the 7.49 million vacancies?

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