Americans Continue to File for Unemployment at Record Levels

According to one top economic analyst, the U.S. continues to experience “heartbreakingly elevated levels of new unemployment claims” as more than 19 million Americans receive some form of jobless assistance. When will it all end? Many look to January 20th as a new starting point. Here’s the latest.

January 7, 2021 – The Labor Department reported this morning that 787,000 more Americans filed new claims for state unemployment benefits last week. This was less than the Dow Jones estimate of 815,000 and a slight decrease from the upwardly revised total of 790,000 for the previous week. The Labor Department is expected to report tomorrow that the U.S. economy added just 50,000 jobs as a tumultuous 2020 came to a close, while the unemployment rate is seen edging higher to 6.8 percent, according to Dow Jones estimates.

“We see still heartbreakingly elevated levels of new unemployment claims, with more than 19 million Americans recently receiving some form of jobless assistance,” said Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst at Bankrate. “One can take only a modest amount of solace from the fact that a fresh round of unemployment assistance was approved, meaning that those most in need weren’t pushed over a cliff after Christmas.”

This week’s dramatic events in Washington, D.C., may have forced an elevation of the middle ground and a reckoning of understanding that constructive solutions are needed to address the pandemic and economy-boosting measures including infrastructure funding, Mr. Hamrick said.

During the week, 51 states reported 8,383,387 continued weekly claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits and 51 states reported 4,516,900 continued claims for Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation benefits. The highest insured unemployment rates in the week were in Puerto Rico (7.8), Alaska (6.4), California (6.0), Kansas (5.9), Nevada (5.6), Illinois (5.5), New Mexico (5.5), Pennsylvania (5.2), Washington (5.1), and District of Columbia (4.6). The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending December 26 were in New York (+10,318), California (+10,071), Kentucky (+4,341), Missouri (+4,105), and New Jersey (+2,851), while the largest decreases were in Illinois (-34,568), Pennsylvania (-9,026), Georgia (-7,713), Kansas (-3,710), and Texas (-3,531).

“While the job market prospects for 2021 are brighter, it will take the first half of the year for that momentum to build. Elevated unemployment will be with us long after the virus is vanquished,” said Greg McBride, chief financial analyst for Bankrate.

Veteran Search Consultant Weighs In

           Bill Rowe

Founder and chairman/CEO of Rowe Global, Bill Rowe has specialized in assisting with the human capital needs of the private equity community and their portfolio companies since 2002, serving all industries and disciplines on a global basis. He 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.

Bill, since the pandemic began how have things changed for your business and how you engage with clients?

The world has been impacted in many ways since March and we continue to endure to this day. While the tactical demands of our assignments have been impacted by things such as a greater use of video conferencing (Zoom, etc.), work from home and increased car travel instead of flight travel, we have been fortunate that clients, candidates and search professionals (team members) have all worked in concert to ensure the most efficient completion of assignments has been maintained. If anything, the response to this pandemic world has highlighted the “team work and team effort” we have always brought to our assignments and search approach. The net result has been a greater appreciation by all involved to what it takes to get candidates processed and allow for detailed evaluation by both clients and candidates. We have been blessed to be seen as a “true human capital” partner by our clients for many years and our hands-on approach and a willingness to always be available to our clients and candidates on a 24/7 basis has ensured that even in these dynamic times searches can be completed.

How have clients reacted?

The one real stand-out change during this pandemic has been the reality by clients to recognize the increased demand to source candidates from their local geographies. Relocation is much harder to consider in the pandemic world and thus our efforts to identify all available candidates within a local geography to our client is a heightened demand. Clients have embraced virtual initial meetings with candidates and even second stage discussions virtually have become much more acceptable /expected during these times.

“Clients have embraced virtual initial meetings with candidates and even second stage discussions virtually have become much more acceptable /expected during these times.”

What do you see for the job market and the search industry in 2021?

As we consider the job market overall, several obvious industries such as retail, entertainment, hospitality, and travel will continue to struggle as we emerge from the impact of COVID-19. However, other industries remain robust in their demand for talent and the pace of continued investment. The technology sector, as a whole, remains vibrant, the food manufacturing, consumer product and QSR sectors are expanding to support demand from a home-based consumer environment. As a firm built from inception to support the leadership needs of portfolio companies owned by private equity firms we have benefited by the continued pace of deal flow and investment that has continued throughout this past year within the private equity world. The demand for great operators continues even in these pandemic times and deals continue to get done. We closed 2020 with an increase in business over three back-to-back quarters and we maintain a solid backlog going into 2021. The middle market remains vibrant and the demand for talent is as competitive as ever. As the U.S. and countries around the globe embrace the vaccines that have been developed at a record pace to move us all beyond this pandemic environment, we expect the demand for talent to only increase. We also believe the second half of 2021, assuming the broad success of vaccines against COVID-19, will be met with pent up consumer response of travel and entertainment. That will result in bog rebounds across that sector.

What lasting impact will the pandemic have on executive search?

As we move through this next year and get to the other side of the pandemic, we believe the use of virtual meetings and technology to support a distributed work force will continue to be embraced at a higher level than pre-pandemic and will continue to be a normalized part of the search process. This will allow for increased efficiency in search time and overall cost reduction. The search industry has been impacted by technology at a rapid rate for decades and the impact of the pandemic has been to highlight the demands of technology in all phases of the search process. We believe search firms that have embraced these technologies, while remaining committed to the core demands of candidate assessment and communication, will continue to be the most cherished partners by clients in the markets post pandemic. However, on a different note, we believe a lasting impact on the search industry and the markets as whole, post pandemic, is the realization that we are all in this together. A greater sense of what it means to be part of a community and the things that really matter in life. Candidates have re-evaluated their priorities in their career and have remembered the “work-life” balance many talk about is important. Clients have witnessed what real leadership means in these challenging times. Leaders who find a way to do things differently, listen to the needs of their people, customers, and changing market demands are now in big demand. Servant leadership has never been a greater priority!

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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