January 28, 2021 – The Labor Department reported this morning that 847,000 more Americans filed new claims for state unemployment benefits last week as President Joseph R. Biden began his first week in the White House. Economists polled by Dow Jones had expected first-time claims to total 875,000. The feds have now reported about 75.6 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 February, the United States has lost 9.8 million jobs, including 140,000 in December.
The figures continue to far exceed their pre-crisis levels as the resurgent pandemic leads to more stringent business restrictions and raises people’s fears of infection. Vaccine distribution is expected to restore economic activity later this year, but the rollout has been slower than expected and is limiting the speed at which the job market is able to recover. President Biden recently released details of his $1.9 trillion economic relief plan. If approved, it would provide $400 per week in supplementary unemployment benefits through September, aid for state and local governments and direct payments of $1,400 to individuals.
Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell said Wednesday the priority must be getting the American population vaccinated against Covid-19. No programs will be able to help get the economy fully back to normal until we the pandemic is under control. “There’s been a lot of adapting — but you can’t adapt hotels, sporting venues, movie theaters, restaurants, bars. That’s millions and millions of people,” he said. “And so you’re just going to have to defeat the pandemic. That is really the main thing about the economy is getting the pandemic under control, getting everyone vaccinated, getting people wearing masks and all that,” said Mr. Powell. “That’s the single most important economic growth policy that we can have.”
During the week, 50 states reported 7,334,193 continued weekly claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits and 50 states reported 3,863,548 continued claims for Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation benefits. The highest insured unemployment rates were in Kansas (7.7), Pennsylvania (7.0), the Virgin Islands (6.9), Alaska (6.4), Nevada (6.1), Michigan (5.6), Puerto Rico (5.6), Illinois (5.5), New Mexico (5.5), and Connecticut (5.4). The largest increases in initial claims for the week were in Florida (+8,643), Maryland (+7,935), Kansas (+6,746), Ohio (+5,665), and Rhode Island (+2,998), while the largest decreases were in California (-65,383), New York (-10,936), Texas (-9,170), Pennsylvania (-8,503), and Washington (-7,877).
Veteran Search Consultant Weighs In
Carol Hartman is the founder of Hartman Group Consulting, a boutique executive search firm specializing in the placement of C-level leaders, board members and senior executives with P&L and/or high-impact responsibilities. The firm serves clients in financial services, technology, cybersecurity and luxury goods.
Ms. Hartman is an executive recruiting strategist and an expert in helping companies achieve their business objectives in the U.S. and abroad. With more than 20 years of retained executive search experience, she works with companies to develop talent acquisition strategies and place candidates with a diverse range of expertise and backgrounds in executive-level and board positions.
Ms. Hartman recently sat down with Hunt Scanlon Media to discuss the pandemic, hiring, and to forecast her expectations for 2021. Following are excerpts from that discussion.
Carol, since the pandemic began how have things changed for your business and how you engage with clients?
I have been operating with most clients (except two) entirely via phone and video conferences. For those two clients, I have had several trips to meet with senior executives in Denver and Wyoming. For every trip, I have been COVID tested in advance and upon return. I think that unless the vaccine is shown to be significantly effective this will be the only way to safely operate in person. I think quarantining and COVID testing in advance and upon of travel is the only professional way to work. Several clients have always been comfortable with video capabilities and this has been a cultural norm for them. However, even with that, I don’t think they ever thought they would be hiring senior executives without meeting them in person. That has changed for some, if not most clients.
“2021 will be a very robust year for both the job market and search industry in select industry sectors.”
How have clients reacted?
Several clients have always been comfortable with video capabilities and this has been a cultural norm for them. However, even with that, I don’t think they ever thought they would be hiring senior executives without meeting them in person. That has changed for some, if not most clients. For how we have worked together, I think clients have appreciated how contentious I have managed our work together. Designing good experiences for candidates given the limitations of travel and in person meetings has been something that we have been focused on, as well. The move to video meetings has, I think, created more thorough and enhanced due diligence. Clients and candidates are better prepared for meetings, more focused on exchanging important information and have more time available.
What do you see for the job market and the search industry in 2021?
I think 2021 will be a very robust year for both the job market and search industry in select industry sectors. I expect there to be geographic movements of companies, individuals making changes to their own geography that may or may not be okay with employers long term, retirements and post-COVID strategic changes. I think we will see regulatory and policy changes that will drive opportunity for search, as well. This will be an unsettled year, but filled with opportunities if we are paying attention.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media