October 8, 2020 – The Labor Department reported this morning that 840,000 more Americans filed new claims for state unemployment benefits last week. Economists polled by Dow Jones expected first-time claims to come in at 825,000, down slightly from the 870,000 claims reported for the previous week. The latest figures portend an unstable and volatile job market.
The Labor Department changed its methodology from one that used seasonal adjustments to account for normal disruptions in the job market that don’t apply as much under current virus-related conditions.
“Let’s hope we soon break below the 800k mark in initial claims soon because hanging around the 800k+ level is still not a good place to be, especially going into the winter,” said Peter Boockvar, chief investment officer at Bleakley Advisory Group.
“The level of claims is still staggeringly high,” said Daniel Zhao, senior economist at the career site Glassdoor. “We’re seeing evidence that the recovery is slowing down, whether it’s in slowing payroll gains or in the sluggish improvement in jobless claims.”
“Even as filings are declining, levels remain extraordinarily high,” Rubeela Farooqi, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics, said in a note. “Employment growth has already slowed and without fiscal support that protected jobs, risks are skewed to the downside for payrolls going forward.”
During the week, 50 states reported 11,394,832 individuals claiming Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits and 49 states reported 1,959,953 individuals claiming Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation benefits. The highest insured unemployment rates in the week were in Hawaii (20.1), California (16.1), Nevada (13.7), Puerto Rico (12.2), the Virgin Islands (12.1), Louisiana (11.4), New York (11.1), Georgia (10.9), District of Columbia (10.4), and Michigan (10.2). The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending September 26 were in Maryland (+3,619), Illinois (+3,414), New Jersey (+2,504), Michigan (+2,358), and Massachusetts (+1,886), while the largest decreases were in Texas (-7,075), Florida (-6,655), Georgia (-5,895), New York (-5,112), and Oregon (-2,317).
Improved Hiring Plans
Employers in the U.S report improved hiring plans for the fourth quarter following the 10 year low reported in Q3, according to the latest “Employment Outlook Survey” released on Tuesday by ManpowerGroup. Overall hiring intentions improved in 37 of 43 countries since last quarter, though 41 declined year-over-year.
“Though we still have a long way to go to recover from what started as a health crisis and has evolved to a social and economic crisis, it is encouraging to see optimistic outlooks in some of the industries most heavily impacted including leisure, retail and manufacturing,” said Becky Frankiewicz, president of ManpowerGroup North America. “We also see employers recognize this recovery will take longer than they initially thought and many are adapting work models for the long term.”
Americans Continue to File for Unemployment as Economic Uncertainty and Hiring Hesitancy Persist
The Labor Department reported that 837,000 more Americans filed new claims for state unemployment benefits last week. Economists polled by Dow Jones expected first-time claims to come in at 850,000, down slightly from the 860,000 claims reported for the previous week. The latest figures portend an unstable and volatile job market.
“This is accelerating a shift closer to what we know workers have wanted for some time: autonomy to choose how and where they get their work done, more learning on demand, and a focus on achieving a better blend of work and home,” Ms. Frankiewicz said. “Now is the time for employers to offer targeted skills development and more flexible future-focused work options for those working remote and in the workplace.”
Whether employees get what they want, however, is fast becoming a secondary concern for most companies. The shift from growth and expansion just six months ago to one of pure survival is now the primary focus of every business, with few exceptions.
Executive Search Veteran Weighs In
“At the executive levels, we continue to see companies that need to fill key leadership positions, due to attrition and also due to the creation of some new leadership roles, such as chief diversity & inclusion officer,” said Elaine Peters, founder and CEO of Elaine Peters Executive Search. “One key change in 2020 is the challenge of recruiting and hiring leaders in a remote world. Interviews are being conducted via Zoom or other technologies and hiring is being accomplished virtually. Organizations are moving forward to hire leaders as they realize these key positions need to be filled and attracting top talent continues to be a challenge especially during a pandemic.”
“Organizations are seeking leaders who are comfortable managing and leading from a remote perspective,” Ms. Peters said. “Additionally, the need for diverse candidates in leadership positions continues to be a challenge and it’s anticipated to grow in 2020 and beyond.”
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media