March 17, 2022 – The Labor Department reported that 214,000 Americans have filed new claims for state unemployment benefits, a decrease of 15,000 from the previous week’s revised level. The previous week’s level was revised up by 2,000 from 227,000 to 229,000. The four-week moving average was 223,000, a decrease of 8,750 from the previous week’s revised average. The previous week’s average was revised up by 500 from 231,250 to 231,750.
The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 1.0 percent for the week, a decrease of 0.1 percentage point from the previous week’s unrevised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week was 1,419,000, a decrease of 71,000 from the previous week’s revised level. This is the lowest level for insured unemployment since February 21, 1970 when it was 1,412,000. The previous week’s level was revised down by 4,000 from 1,494,000 to 1,490,000. The four-week moving average was 1,463,000, a decrease of 42,500 from the previous week’s revised average. This is the lowest level for this average since March 21, 1970 when it was 1,456,750. The previous week’s average was revised down by 1,000 from 1,506,500 to 1,505,500.
Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell Wednesday highlighted the strength of the labor market in particular. He maintained that the economy in current form would be able to withstand a less accommodative tilt from the central bank.
“If you take a look at today’s labor market, what you have is 1.7+ job openings for every unemployed person. So that is a very, very tight labor market — tight to an unhealthy level, I would say,” said Mr. Powell. “We’re hearing from companies that they can’t hire enough people, they’re having a hard time hiring. Across the economy, we’d like to slow demand so that it’s better aligned with supply. That over time should bring inflation down.”
There were 10,700 continued weeks claimed filed by former Federal civilian employees, an increase of 737 from the previous week. Newly discharged veterans claiming benefits totaled 4,683, an increase of 25 from the prior week. The highest insured unemployment rates in the week were in Rhode Island (2.7), California (2.6), Alaska (2.4), New Jersey (2.4), Massachusetts (2.3), Minnesota (2.3), New York (2.3), Illinois (2.1), Connecticut (2.0), Georgia (1.9) and Montana (1.9). The largest increases in initial claims for the week were in New York (+16,157), California (+5,470), Kentucky (+3,148), New Jersey (+2,381), and Ohio (+1,117), while the largest decreases were in Massachusetts (-2,315), Pennsylvania (-2,130), Missouri (-1,378), Tennessee (-1,356), and Rhode Island (-1,224).
Veteran Search Consultant Weigh In
Karen Alphonse is a search solution leader and executive coach with ExecSearches. She joined the firm to spearhead its search consulting practice. Most recently, she served as a strategic advisor, confidant and career coach to thought-leaders in financial services, legal, education and mission-driven organizations. Ms. Alphonse identifies talent through social media, job postings, referrals and targeted research. Her interactions with hundreds of candidates and executives has shaped her creative interview techniques and ability to conduct behavioral assessments, take expert references and understand candidates’ strengths.
Ms. Alphonse recently sat down with Hunt Scanlon Media to discuss the economic recovery, hiring, and how her firm has adjusted to working with clients and candidates during the post-pandemic era. Following are excerpts from that discussion.
Karen, what are your thoughts about the current economy?
The concept of “economic recovery” is complex. It is most effective to frame the response in terms of specific segments of the market. Certain organizations actually thrived and grew over the past three years or so. Sometimes this growth occurred because of COVID. Sometimes it occurred in spite of COVID. Libraries and cafes were hard hit during the lock-down. So were many retail and eating establishments. These organizations have had to reinvent themselves based on altered client expectations and a different set of resources. Others withstood the pandemic and have continued operations, more or less along similar lines, before, during and after COVID. In addition, geography and industry considerations play into the analysis. In general, the technology sector has done well. Technology played a key role in keeping business going while many people were restricted to operating from their home. Thus, in many parts of the country, high-tech companies have thrived. So have IT consultants and business advisors. Real estate is booming in many areas right now. Organizations that provide skilled services to this sector are probably experiencing an uptick in earnings, based on the profitability of that market. Often, though, philanthropic organizations fall somewhere in the middle. Some have adapted and adopted new ways. Others have continued to operate much as they always have. We can predict certain trends.
Can you explain?
To get a clear picture, one must analyze specific organizations in a particular location, industry, or sector to diagnose whether or not there is a general “recovery” in the making. The organizations that have traditionally focused on immigrant rights, refugee resettlement and mass population movements may be experiencing something of a resurgence. Interest in their missions seems to be growing and this will trigger funding to support their work. At the same time, there are organizations that relied heavily on corporate sponsorship. Depending on the fate of their corporate sponsors, they may be experiencing a downturn – not a recovery. For some, this happens to be a time of recovery. Those involved in industries and organizations that are amenable to virtual meetings and remote work, things could not be better. In fact, some organizations have been able to save overhead dollars by downsizing or completing eliminating their brick-and-mortar offices. For others, who may have become redundant due to COVID or to shifts in demand for particular goods and services, this is a time of scarcity and angst. In certain areas, retail businesses that have dominated the landscape and defined a particular location, have become obsolete. Their customers, partly in response to COVID, now opt to shop online. In the short term, those who were employed in the retail sector in such locations are out of work, unless they are willing to relocate to specific sites that are relevant to the online business flow. On the other hand, many online businesses and organizations that can operate effectively on a remote basis, have expanded their operations. Whether you see the economy in recovery or not depends a whole lot on sector specific information.
With regard to the U.S., what are you seeing?
The U.S. market shows lots of movement and activity. As has been documented, many are resigning. Some are getting better paid positions. In effect, they resign to be promoted in another organization. Others are taking early retirement to give back to their communities. The battle to transcend COVID has created greater community awareness and a push towards doing mission-driven work. However, not even this has affected all organizations in the same way. From what we can tell, COVID has prompted a new wave of interest in the environment and in organizations that deal with pressing public health and international issues. Political unrest in the Ukraine, Haiti, Syria, Afghanistan and over the world has triggered fresh interest in global economics and in resettlement and refugee issues. It is likely that this trend will become evident in the formation of a new generation of mission-driven and not-for-profit organizations. Certain social entrepreneurship groups have already begun to make impact and are part of the “economic recovery.” Others are in process and will soon become part of an emerging economy.
“For both individuals and organizations, I see a recurring set of challenges related to identity and relevance. COVID has caused many organizations to challenge their operating systems and assumptions. Many organizations that thought they could never operate remotely have been forced to rethink their priorities, and their assumptions about their employees. They have had to refocus and redefine how they meet mission and serve their clients well. COVID has also led to greater introspection generally.”
What are some of the challenges you’re seeing right now?
That is an interesting question. For both individuals and organizations, I see a recurring set of challenges related to identity and relevance. COVID has caused many organizations to challenge their operating systems and assumptions. Many organizations that thought they could never operate remotely have been forced to rethink their priorities, and their assumptions about their employees. They have had to refocus and redefine how they meet mission and serve their clients well. COVID has also led to greater introspection generally. While people sat indoors wondering when the economy would return to “normal,” they also asked penetrating questions. They revised their thinking and realigned their priorities. Many organizations took radical steps to survive COVID and emerge financially strong. In a sense, COVID has even transformed the way we think about life. The whole country has been bombarded with images of death, dying and frustration for many months. It is difficult to define this as anything other than traumatic. Organizations, too, have been shell-shocked by having to pivot, sometimes with scarce resource, to meet shifting markets, expectations, and the outworking of the pandemic.
Have you seen organizations trying to reinvent themselves?
Some people (and organizations) get energized when they have to reinvent themselves and reprioritize. Others retreat in fear. It is, after all, scary to create a new identity, to work out fresh priorities and to revamp the way you deliver services or meet a mission. Sadly, people and organizations may not respond to this challenge positively. Some will retreat, back down, and give up. Paralleling the increase in suicide nationwide during the COVID years, we will probably see a range of organizations that got stuck or retreat. They will be the casualties of this era. On balance, we are hopeful that this period will prove to have rejuvenated more organizations than it has terminated. We can all acknowledge, though, that we are seeing the consequences of a nation that has been forced to confront mortality directly and consistently over a relatively long period of time. Strong organizations have survived and will continue to prosper. Organizations that lack vision, energy or resources will probably fade into oblivion.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media