Americans Continue to File for Unemployment as COVID-19 Cases Rise

This morning’s jobs figures continue to portend an unstable, uneven, and unknown job market as the pandemic enters potentially its most dangerous period. Let’s take a look at the just released numbers from the Department of Labor as veteran recruiter Jeremy Robertson of Lockwood Executive Search weighs in!

December 10, 2020 – The Labor Department reported this morning that 853, 000 more Americans filed new claims for state unemployment benefits last week. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones had been expecting 725,000. First-time claims for unemployment insurance totaled 853,000, an increase from the 716,000 total a week before.

This was the highest weekly total since Oct. 10 and reflects the job market’s struggles lately as coronavirus cases have spiked and local and state governments have imposed restrictions on some activities.

“Every month, we’re just seeing the pace of the recovery get slower and slower,” said AnnElizabeth Konkel, an economist with the job site Indeed. “Now, the question is are we actually going to see it slide backward?” According to the New York Times, many economists say the recovery will continue to slow if the government does not provide more aid to households and businesses. “The rapid spread of the virus across the nation is making it harder to find employment this fall and this puts the entire economic recovery from recession in jeopardy if Congress can’t get it together and vote on a new stimulus package before the end of the year,” said Chris Rupkey, chief economist at MUFG in New York.

During the week, 51 states reported 8,555,763 continued weekly claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits and 51 states reported 4,532,876 continued weekly claims for Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation benefits. The highest insured unemployment rates were in Alaska (6.3), California (6.3), New Mexico (6.1), Nevada (6.0), Hawaii (5.6), Massachusetts (5.1), District of Columbia (5.0), Illinois (5.0), Washington (4.7), and Georgia (4.6). The largest increases in initial claims were in Illinois (+8,535), Oregon (+5,461), Colorado (+1,905), Indiana (+1,746), and Louisiana (+1,735), while the largest decreases were in California (-37,803), Texas (-14,123), Michigan (-10,976), Georgia (-9,905), and Washington (-7,881).

Veteran Search Consultant Shares Views

Jeremy Robertson is the founder and CEO of Lockwood Executive Search, a specialist executive recruiter with 22 years of search experience. The firm has a track record recruiting within asset management, banking, management consulting and private equity and has offices in Connecticut, Hong Kong, London and New York.

Mr. Robertson recently sat down with Hunt Scanlon Media to discuss how his firm has adjusted to the global pandemic and the impact he sees on the recruiting sector.

Jeremy, since the pandemic began how have things changed for your business and how you approach your work with clients?

Like every business we have had to adjust to ‘the new norm’ but we have a fantastic and loyal client base that continues to grow. I have learned over the years to be resilient, tough it out, put the client – and their family – first, to go above and beyond and do the best job possible. What is most important, post-pandemic, is that the advice, support, and good recruiting work we did during this difficult time will have made our client’s businesses stronger. We believe at Lockwood in being there for our clients, to have empathy. It underpins everything decision we make and everything we do for our clients. I am excited about what Lockwood Executive Search has to offer and look forward to years to come supporting our fantastic client base. We see this pandemic period as a temporary pause, nothing more, nothing less.

What do you see for the job market and for the search industry as we head into 2021? 

This has been a challenging year. Projects were put on hold while clients grappled with how to deal with COVID-19 and the new working-from-home situation. However, now we can see light at the end of the tunnel with a potential vaccine. As such, we have seen a significant uptick in retained searches being awarded for strategic, must-have, and business critical roles. An unusual outcome of the pandemic is that we have seen very buoyant market for opportunistic candidate introductions, where the candidate we place really helps to move the needle and thus brings the client organization to a better place than they were before.

In which way?

Perhaps the new hire enables a transformational change in business direction and thus the client comes out of the pandemic stronger with a revised, reinvented and differentiated business model. At Lockwood we take time to work with our clients to address how new hires can enable positive change. On the retained executive search front, which makes up the bulk of our business, we have seen a number of new and exciting projects being awarded to us just this quarter and into Q1 2021 which is uplifting to see. Where can add real value is in partnering with our clients and supporting centralized human resourcing and recruiting, which in turns enables them to add value to their business partners, CEOs, COOs, etc.

Clients now, more than ever, know that if you treat an employee well, create a strong culture – even if working from home – it will stand you in good stead to land the best candidates when conducting a new executive search.”

How do you do that?

As part of our service, we complete full A-Z market maps of available talent which allows the client to make smart, rational, and informed business decisions. Especially as we head into the new year. This is an active market right now, with lots going on, with exciting new developments in analytics, asset management, consulting, machine learning, private equity, and venture capital. We recently set up a new AI/machine learning center for a client. We are nearing completion of a head of responsible investing for a well-respected U.S.-based asset manager. We also just recruited a leadership team for a large corporate client that has been setting up a new digital, predictive analytics and machine learning team. Globally, we continue to hire good senior leadership staff who we look forward to partnering with. 

What lasting impacts will the pandemic have on executive search?

Like any industry there will be casualties, and my well wishes go out to anyone who has gone out of business and lost their livelihood. I do think executive search is a critical and value add industry that is here to stay. It is a competitive space that is always striving to reinvent itself. So, the pandemic will impact executive search, yes, but we are seeing some huge positives as we emerge from this period. Clients now, more than ever know that if you treat an employee well, create a strong culture – even if working from home – it will stand you in good stead to land the best candidates when conducting a new executive search. The pandemic has taught us all to be more empathetic, with much more focus on the family side of the equation. So, organizations that embrace allowing employees to work from home, and allow for time to spend with their loved ones and are respectful of personal challenges and stresses will stand their organizations in better stead going forward to attract the best talent. I believe the pandemic will continue to bring positive change to people’s working lives.

Related: How C-Level Managers Are Looking for Jobs

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor  – Hunt Scanlon Media


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