As COVID-19 Lockdowns Mount, More Americans Expected to File for Unemployment

This morning’s jobs figures continue to portend an unstable, uneven, and unknown job market as the pandemic moves into its third and, potentially, most dangerous third wave. Let’s take a look at the just released numbers from the Department of Labor as veteran recruiter Rick Rush of Rush & Company weighs in!

November 19, 2020 – The Labor Department reported this morning that 742,000 more Americans filed new claims for state unemployment benefits last week as COVID-19 cases in the U.S. continue to rise. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones had been expecting 710,000.

This was the fifth straight week that claims fell below 800,000. More than 21 million Americans are currently claiming some form of unemployment insurance, and Thursday’s Labor Department data also shows that unemployed Americans are spending more time out of work.

“The story of the next few weeks will be a gradual and uneven—but unambiguous—tightening of anti-COVID-19 restrictions across the country,” said Ian Shepherdson, chief economist for Pantheon Macroeconomics. “The rapid rate of growth of cases and infections threatens to overwhelm the hospital system by the end of the year, at which point current trends suggest that perhaps 250K people will be hospitalized with COVID-19, with about 60K in ICUs.”

“Politicians, therefore, will have no choice but to respond to the unfolding nightmare in hospitals,” Mr. Shepherdson said. “They will restrict activity in the leisure and hospitality sector— perhaps closing bars and restaurants completely in the hardest-hit cities—and by limiting indoor gatherings, in homes and elsewhere. These measures work, but they exact a real cost on the economy.”

During the week, 51 states reported 8,681,647 individuals claiming Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits and 51 states reported 4,376,847 individuals claiming Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation benefits. The highest insured unemployment rates in the week were in California (8.3), Hawaii (8.3), New Mexico (8.0), Nevada (7.6), Georgia (6.5), Pennsylvania (6.4), Alaska (6.2), Massachusetts (6.2), District of Columbia (6.0), and Illinois (5.7). The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending November 7 were in Washington (+7,683), California (+5,293), Massachusetts (+3,383), Alabama (+1,704), and Louisiana (+1,626), while the largest decreases were in Georgia (-13,426), Illinois (-6,357), Kentucky (-4,830), Texas (-3,934), and New Jersey (-3,725).

Veteran Search Consultant Weighs In

Rick Rush is founder and president of Rush & Company, a national executive search firm focused on the textile industry. He offers 26 years of experience having started his recruiting career in 1994. Mr. Rush has over $18 million in personal career billings, having conducted over 2,000 searches. Since 1999, he has been a member of The Pinnacle Society, a consortium of 75 industry-leading recruiters in North America within the direct placement and search industry.

Rick Rush
          Rick Rush

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

Our firm has had a remote model in place since launching the company in 2003, with our full desk recruiters and even administration staff working remotely around the country. Fortunately, we had all the systems, processes and technology internally to continue business as usual when the pandemic hit. We have team members located from California to Georgia but from an outside lens, our goal has always been to seamlessly service clients as if we are all sitting in the same office. Interestingly, what has changed for us is that our clients are more comfortable with video meetings and want to kick off searches and meet via video calls. That has certainly been a positive for us in building stronger client relationships.

What do you see for the job market and search industry for the remainder of the year?

Overall, we are very optimistic. Our business has improved every month since April and is back stronger month-over-month than 2019, which was a record year for us. Within the textile industry, some segments have been hit harder than others. For example, the apparel segment has struggled, while the home textile and industrial textile sectors have been as strong as ever – if not stronger. Fortunately, we have diversified over the years and work with all areas within the industry. Recently, we do see apparel starting to hire again but don’t expect it to fully come back until the spring. Clearly, some positions are more in demand across all segments than they were pre-pandemic, those include ecommerce, supply chain and sourcing roles. But overall, it is still difficult to find and recruit A-players in any role. That has not changed and we don’t expect it to in the coming year.

“Our business has improved every month since April and is back stronger month-over-month than 2019, which was a record year for us.”

What lasting impact do you think the pandemic will have on executive search?

During the pandemic, the interview process has changed with more video calls and we expect that to continue post pandemic. Also, companies that were hesitant to hire remote, work-from-home candidates, are now finding that it does work for their organization and we believe there will be more continued flexibility in that area. From the candidate perspective, remote flexibility and a work-from-home option was considered to be a perk or selling point with a company, however now it will be a candidate’s expectation and “even the playing field” when candidates have multiple offers to choose from. Companies will need to continue to find ways to differentiate themselves from their competition to attract A-players.

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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