TMIL – November 2021

Welcome to “This Month in Labor”, nGROUP’s look at all things labor, employment, and supply chain. This month, we’re examining the most recent federal jobs report, peering ahead into the future of recruiting, and examining evidence that the worst of the supply chain woes might be behind us.

#1 – Jobs bounce back

After a disappointing September jobs report, hiring numbers roared back in a big way during October. The latest report, published at the beginning of this month, showed payrolls jumped by more than 531,000. In addition, August and September’s numbers were revised upwards by a total of 235,000. That puts the rolling 3-month average at 442,000 jobs gained per month.

Service and hospitality industries led the way, with restaurants and bars adding significant numbers of positions. The uptick was mostly put down to increased consumer spending (and presence) as tensions about the pandemic seem to lessen once again. With the holidays rapidly approaching, and perhaps additional money in their pockets, people are once again going out and enjoying old activities.

Interestingly for employers, the share of remote workers dropped to its lowest level since the pandemic began. More problematic were the stats on labor force participation. That is, the percentage of working-age people who have or are actively looking for a job. That figure remained steady at 61.6%. That is well short of pre-pandemic levels, dashing hopes that more people would rejoin the workforce as the labor market tightened.

Overall, the number of employed Americans is still 4.2 million less than it was in February 2020, indicating we’ve still got a long road ahead.

#2 – The ways recruitment is changing

Volatility in the job market might as well be a fact of life now, it seems. Some of the most recent information — including the expected uptick in open positions as peak season accelerates — only points to further volatility down the road.

In other words, it’s not enough to know that recruitment and sourcing have changed. We must now consider how they’ve changed.

A recent piece from Talent Works lays out some of the interesting new wrinkles we’ll all have to consider when it comes to hiring new employees. Chief among those is the fact that job seekers now have a greater level of control than ever before. In some ways, prospective employees have more control over the situation than their would-be employers.

Due to workers having the upper hand, much of the hiring process is now a more favorable experience for them. In summation:

  1. More workers want and expect a remote recruitment process.
  2. Employers can expect to receive fewer applications per position as workers exercise a greater ability to pick and choose where they work.
  3. Much like consumer marketing has been, recruitment marketing will increasingly be dominated by data and personalization.

All these trends point to the need for greater retention among those already on your payroll. Devoting time and effort to the work environment (including the workplace culture), as well as staying at the forefront of competitive pay rates, are key to keeping employees happy and stationary.

#3 – Supply chain pressure easing?

It’s beginning to look and feel a lot like Christmas. Or, at the very least, Christmas shopping season. One of the most enduring narratives (and facts of life) we’ve all experienced in 2021 has been the constant supply chain problems all over the globe. There’s a lot of anxiety out there about whether or not our favorite stores are going to be stocked with our favorite gifts. Stories like this one are all over, pondering what Christmas morning might look like thanks to the strangled supply chain.

But did you know there may be some good news out there? Morning Brew’s recent story certainly thinks that’s the case. They point to some key indicators which may show the supply chain’s problems have peaked, meaning clearer sailing ahead.

For one thing, Target has reported a huge surge in inventories — up 17.6%! Along with bigger investments in inventory, the retail giant has also been pouring money into staffing, raising hopes for a more normal Christmas shopping experience.

Even the persistent microchip shortage may have reached its peak, with two of the world’s biggest automakers — GM and Toyota — reporting good news. GM said that the beginning of November marked the first time since February that none of its North American plants were sitting idle due to lack of chips. For its part, Toyota’s Japanese plants are expected to return to normal operations in December. That would be the first time that has happened in the past seven months.

Finally, shipping snags may be past their peak, as well. The port of Los Angeles has seen the number of idle shipping crates drop by 25% in a month, while the Baltic Dry Index has dropped 50% since October 7. The BDI measures global shipping and inflation, and its big downturn is very good news for a weary world.

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