April 8, 2021 – The Labor Department reported this morning that 744,000 Americans filed new claims for state unemployment benefits. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones expected 694,000 filings. The previous week’s average was revised down by 16,000 from 719,000 to 728,500. The Fed have now reported over 80 million initial jobless claims over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic — a number equivalent to roughly 47 percent of the nation’s workforce. Since last February, the United States has lost over 10 million jobs. While the number of weekly claims remains inordinately high by historical means, the trend is falling now that the U.S. economy continues to reopen and close to three million Americans receive vacations each day for COVID-19.
“With increased vaccinations and reduced restrictions, the bell has gone off in medical device hiring, particularly for companies manufacturing products and technologies used in elective surgical procedures,” said Paula Rutledge, president of Legacy MedSearch. “First quarter of 2020 was dismal for most of our clients, excepting those infection prevention and PPE; likewise, our recruiting business was severely impacted. However, as we are preparing to close out Q1 2021 we are up 270 percent over the same period last year in revenue and anticipate a record year based on the current trend,” she noted.
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“Overall, the latest claims data have been improving lately, with a downward trend reported since early in January that generally has coincided with vaccine distribution and a reduction in new COVID-19 cases,” JPMorgan economist Bruce Kasman wrote in a recent note. “Initial claims did jump in the latest weekly report, but the four-week moving average for regular state filings hit its lowest level in over a year.”
“The movement overall is in the right direction,” Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst at Bankrate.com, said. “As we get closer to herd immunity, as restrictions can be lifted – think about dining rooms that can go from 50 percent to 100 percent capacity and baseball stadiums that can be 100 percent instead of 10 percent – those are things that get us closer to where we were before.”
During the week, 50 states reported 7,553,628 continued weekly claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits and 51 states reported 5,633,595 continued claims for Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation benefits. The highest insured unemployment rates in the week were in Puerto Rico (6.0), the Virgin Islands (5.6), Nevada (5.3), Alaska (5.0), Pennsylvania (5.0), Connecticut (4.6), New York (4.1), Rhode Island (3.9), Illinois (3.8), and California (3.7). The largest increases in initial claims for the week were in Kentucky (+16,100), Georgia (+14,493), Virginia (+10,684), California (+10,408), and New York (+8,557), while the largest decreases were in Ohio (-14,879), Massachusetts (-12,001), Indiana (-3,785), Florida (-1,633), and Michigan (-1,622).
Hiring outlooks continue to improve for the second quarter according to the latest ManpowerGroup Employment Outlook Survey of more than 7,500 U.S employers. Employers in all 12 U.S. industries report positive outlooks, with the strongest hiring activity forecast in leisure & hospitality sector (+27 percent), transportation & utilities (+23 percent) and wholesale & retail trade (+22 percent). Employers are more optimistic about a return to pre-pandemic hiring than last quarter, with more than half (52 percent) expecting pre-pandemic hiring levels will return before the end of 2021.
Employers in all four U.S. regions report positive hiring plans for the next three months. The Midwest, West and South all report outlooks of +18 percent, with the Northeast reporting an outlook of +16 percent, unchanged for the previous quarter. Employers in Rhode Island (+29 percent), Wisconsin (+29 percent), Michigan (+28 percent), Vermont (+28 percent), and Arizona (+26 percent) report the strongest outlooks nationwide. Of the 100 largest metropolitan statistical areas, the strongest outlooks are expected Madison, WI (+38 percent), Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, FL (+37 percent), Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN (+33 percent), Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, PA-NJ (+32 percent), and Provo-Orem, UT (+31 percent).
“The American workforce and labor market is resilient, and we have a silver lining in sight with the vaccine roll out boosting optimism for the months ahead,” said Becky Frankiewicz, president of ManpowerGroup North America. “It’s encouraging to see positive outlooks reported in leisure and hospitality and retail, particularly as this week we mark International Women’s Day and roles in these industries are predominantly held by women. As we continue to navigate the road to recovery there will be twists and turns, yet slow progress will continue as employers prepare to renew and reset and focus on getting America safely back to work.”
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media