October 22, 2020 – The Labor Department reported this morning that 898,000 more Americans filed new claims for state unemployment benefits last week, the lowest total since the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones had been expecting 875,000. 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.
The total reflected a decline of 55,000 from the downwardly revised 842,000 from the previous week. The last time the weekly claims total was lower was the 282,000 on March 14. The number also reflects the migration of workers who have exhausted their regular benefits and have moved to the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance emergency compensation program.
“The labor market is far from being out of the woods,” said AnnElizabeth Konkel, economist at Indeed Hiring Lab. “The sharp rise of expanded benefits claims points to this protracted pain. At least a portion of the drop in regular continuing claims is due to claimants exhausting benefits and then shifting to Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation. With falling temperatures and the holidays a few weeks away, there is no obvious relief on the horizon.”
During the week, 51 states reported 10,232,853 individuals claiming Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits and 50 states reported 3,296,156 individuals claiming Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation benefits. The highest insured unemployment rates in the week ending October 3 were in Hawaii (14.9), California (11.5), Nevada (11.3), Georgia (9.3), Puerto Rico (9.3), Louisiana (8.8), District of Columbia (8.4), New Mexico (7.8), New York (7.7), and Illinois (7.6). The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending October 10 were in California (+27,870), Illinois (+11,261), Massachusetts (+10,481), Georgia (+9,292), and Indiana (+7,840), while the largest decreases were in Michigan (-2,615), North Carolina (-2,362), Virginia (-1,733), Montana (-579), and Mississippi (-375).
How Search Firms Are Adapting
“We are, and always have been, a very high-touch firm, which has proved to be enormously helpful in the COVID crisis,” said Dale E. Jones, chief executive officer of Diversified Search. “Foremost, what clients wanted was reassurance that the quality of the talent pools and the search process would not be adversely impacted by the restrictions on travel and the lack of in-person contact.”
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.
“But we have been doing digital interfacing with candidates for a long time, so it was not new to us, and we were able to quickly pivot and explain to our clients how this was all going to work and why it would not impact the search,” Mr. Jones said. “In uncertain times, people want certainty, and what our clients wanted and needed was to know quality would not be affected. Strong and continuous communication is built into our search process. This proved a key asset when the pandemic upended life in March.”
“I’d say that while this feels like it’s been going on forever, in reality it’s only been six months,” said Mr. Jones. “And yes, it will continue far longer than any of us would like. But organizations with nimble, clear-eyed, and diverse talent that can look at big problems from multiple angles and perspectives will weather this and anything else that comes. You just have to make sure you have the right talent in the right places, and be courageous enough to take action when you don’t.”
“We’ve adjusted to the new environment by completing searches faster for our clients but using leadership advisory services to help ensure culture fit and successful onboarding despite the expedited process,” said Justin Cerilli, leader of the New York City and Stamford, CT, offices at Russell Reynolds Associates. “We’ve also adjusted to the new environment by completing searches faster for our clients but using leadership advisory services to help ensure culture fit and successful onboarding despite the expedited process.”
“At this point, I think it’s less about weathering the storm and more about adapting to a new way of working,” Mr. Cerilli said. “Our work will never be the same again, whether it’s by choice or by necessity, so it’s critical to be flexible and open-minded as we all adjust to the new normal together.”
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media