The U.S. economy has come a long way in recent years, and we’re now starting to experience some trends reminiscent of periods of full employment. What this means for employers is more pressure in two core areas of human resource management, namely hiring and retaining employees.
Since the severe economic decline of the 2008 recession, we’ve seen an extended period of growth. Unemployment rates remained stubbornly high at first, and people began calling this a "jobless recovery." From an HR perspective, it seemed pretty clear that employers were in no hurry to add back the people and payroll costs they shed during the downturn.
We’re now several years into the recovery, and the numbers are starting to tell a different story. The official unemployment rate has gone from 10 percent in October 2009 to less than 5 percent currently, as calculated by the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.
At the same time, the number of potential workers who want a job but stopped looking has been on the rise, and so has the number of potential workers who dropped out of the labor force. Because the BLS figures don’t include these "missing workers," many would argue that full employment remains a long way off.
I’ll leave that debate to the economists and statisticians. What really matters from the HR perspective is whether the job market is heating up to the point where employers are scrambling to find and keep good employees.
Here’s the good news: We’re not experiencing talent wars like those that occurred during the dot-com bubble at the end of the last century. Still, there’s anecdotal evidence suggesting that recruitment, retention and employee engagement are eating up an increasing amount of time and attention.
We also have hard data from our own quarterly surveys at Bloomberg BNA indicating that things are tightening up. For instance, turnover rates have risen, reaching a level this year that hasn’t been seen since the economy hit its last peak in 2007.
Similarly, our Employment Outlook survey shows strong hiring projections for the upcoming quarter. Employers’ plans for adding technical and professional staff are particularly robust, having strengthened dramatically since the 2008 recession.
In fact, more than one-third of the surveyed employers plan to increase their technical/professional workforces in the final three months of 2016. This is the eighth consecutive quarter in which planned expansion of technical/professional staff has surpassed 30 percent, marking the longest streak in the survey's history.
When it comes to finding people for all those positions, employers are having an increasingly tough time. The share of employers reporting difficulties filling some technical and professional jobs climbed to 55 percent in our latest survey.
And employees seem to have a sense that they’re in higher demand, as evidenced by their lack of patience with employers. A recent survey from the staffing agency Robert Half found that 23 percent of job candidates lose interest in a company if they haven’t heard back within a week of being interviewed, and 46 percent lose interest if there’s no contact within two weeks.
If history repeats itself, the competition for talent will get increasingly intense as long as the economic expansion continues. That means employers will have to step up their game in order to avoid having their business plans short-circuited by a shortage of human capital.
Bloomberg BNA’s HR Decision Support Network is your comprehensive solution with reliable, up-to-date guidance and analysis covering a full range of employment policies and HR administration. Start your free trial today!
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)