Categorized | Job Hunting

The Reasons Why Seekers Can Still Find Great Jobs

Posted on 24 July 2009

I attended a recent presentation by Michael R. Losey, former president of the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), titled “The Labor Shortage: Why and What to Do About It.” In the current economic climate, this topic may challenge popular attitudes and assumptions. But I was truly inspired. Cold, hard facts can be uplifting, especially when those facts are upbeat and positive. I am referring to the abundance of U.S. employment opportunities.

It is especially heartening to consider the long-term perspective, which clearly shows that all is well and getting better. What’s the good news, you ask? The candidate-driven market, where we have more good jobs available than good people to fill them, will continue to flourish for the next 20 years!

The Numbers Don’t Lie
With baby boomers moving into retirement, we experienced this workforce dynamic for most of the late 1990s. Jobseekers have enjoyed more power in the employment equation, commanding higher salaries and greater benefits, which is the flipside of an “employer-driven” market. If you are currently un- or under-employed, take heart in a few of the statistics cited by Losey during his address:

  • U.S. workforce trends from 1980 to 1999 show a gradually decreasing level of unemployment, even during recessions. Total unemployment reached 9.7 percent in 1982, 7.4 percent in 1992, and today, in the midst of the current slowdown, we’re still under 5 percent. These figures may be somewhat skewed, but the overall trend is undeniable.
  • Net additions [those entering the workforce minus those leaving] peaked at around 3 percent in the early 1970s and declined ever since, to approximately 1.7 percent in the 1980s and about 1.1 percent in the 199′s. The year 2000 saw roughly 1 percent net additions, and the slope continued downward. Projected net additions in 2010 will be only 0.7 percent, and less still in 2020.
  • The percentage of Americans currently employed (not the reverse of the unemployment statistic) increased steadily from 1948 to 1978, going from 56 percent to nearly 60 percent. This figure passed 62 percent in 1988 and stood at 64 percent in 1998. This is the highest ratio of all developed countries, with Japan at just over 60, the U.K. at nearly 57, and Germany at 49 percent.
  • The average monthly increase in jobs (at its high point in 1997, when 280,000 jobs were being created every month) stayed strong at nearly 160,000 in 2000.
  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that, in 2011, there will be only 141 million people in the workforce to fill 151 million jobs.
In 2011, there will be only 141 million people in the workforce to fill 151 million jobs.

What Does It All Mean?
This gloomy period of economic uncertainty isn’t going to last forever. In short order, not only will there be more jobs than our currently structured workforce can bear, re-awakening the “candidate-driven” flavor of the past 7-8 years, but we will need to overhaul the current structure to include more segments of our population than ever before. We may even have to look more and more to other populations to meet the need.

These statistics may not fill your fridge or put gas in your car, but you must take heart. The light at the end of the tunnel is becoming increasingly concentrated and will soon cut like a laser through our current doldrums.

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