Jobless Claims Continue to Fall at Steady Pace as Recovery Continues

With more states and cities returning to normal, the jobs economy continues to show slow signs of improvement. This morning veteran search consultant Bob Gershberg of Wray Executive Search shares his views on the economic recovery.

July 22, 2021 – The Labor Department reported that 419,000 Americans filed new claims for state unemployment benefits. This is the lowest level for initial claims since March 14, 2020 when it was 256,000. This was well above the 350,000 Dow Jones estimate and more than the upwardly revised 368,000 from the previous period. The previous week’s level was revised up by 8,000 from 360,000 to 368,000. The four-week moving average was 385,250, an increase of 750 from the previous week’s revised average. The previous week’s average was revised up by 2,000 from 382,500 to 384,500.

This news comes a week after the Fed’s “Beige Book” release on economic conditions across the country. That report showed “moderate to robust growth” nationally, while the New York region reported an economy growing “at a strong pace” as business contacts were “increasingly optimistic about the near-term outlook.”

“The seasonal adjustment factors attempt to compensate for that,” said Lou Crandall, chief economist at Wrightson ICAP in Jersey City, NJ. “But it is unclear that the seasonal dynamics will follow the normal pattern.”

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According to Yahoo Finance, the latest wave of infections poses a risk to the economy, which experienced a sharp two-month recession in 2020 due to the pandemic. The National Bureau of Economic Research’s business cycle dating committee declared on Monday that the recession, which started in February 2020, ended in April 2020.

“We can live with the current infection levels, nationally,” said Brad McMillan, chief investment officer at Commonwealth Financial Network in Waltham, MA. “The infections, this time, are unlikely to lead to economically damaging policy changes.”

The highest insured unemployment rates in the week were in Virgin Islands (4.8), Puerto Rico (4.7), Nevada (4.1), Rhode Island (3.9), California (3.8), Illinois (3.7), New Jersey (3.7), New York (3.6), Connecticut (3.5), District of Columbia (3.1) and Pennsylvania (3.1). The largest increases in initial claims for the week were in Texas (+10,091), New York (+8,190), Pennsylvania (+4,319), Tennessee (+3,061) and Missouri (+1,793), while the largest decreases were in Georgia (-5,286), Rhode Island (-4,807), Puerto Rico (-3,934), Kentucky (-3,771) and Maryland (-2,497).

“It will not likely be until the details of the July employment report are released that we will know if states ending benefits programs early had a notable increase in employment,” said Veronica Clark, an economist at Citigroup in New York.

Search Veteran Weighs In

Wray Executive Search is a provider of executive search and advisory services in the restaurant, foodservice, retail and franchise industries. Wray is a purpose-driven executive search firm and human capital advisory, specializing in C-level, senior executive and functional leadership search. The firm is headquartered in St. Petersburg, FL.

Bob Gershberg is CEO and managing partner of Wray Executive Search and has been a driving force behind the brand for over a decade. He specializes in searches for C-level positions, functional leadership roles and M&A integration. Mr. Gershberg has extensive knowledge and experience in restaurant, food service, retail and consumer industries, and has successfully completed assignments in finance, human resources, IT, supply chain, real estate, franchising, operations and marketing.

Mr. Gershberg recently sat down with Hunt Scanlon Media to discuss the pandemic, hiring, and how his firm has adjusted to working with clients and candidates during the post pandemic era. Following are excerpts from that discussion.

     Bob Gershberg

Bob, many are optimistic about a return to normalcy by the end of the summer. What are your thoughts about the recovery?

We are rather optimistic as our core industries have swung into high gear with positive comps against 2019. Many have ramped up growth and demand for our service is solid.

What expectations do you have for the search industry for the rest of the year ahead?

We expect activity for the balance of the year to be robust. The cloud of economic uncertainty has dissipated enough for our clients to focus on enhancing their respective leadership teams. We are also anticipating more executive movement which is typical of recovery periods.

The cloud of economic uncertainty has dissipated enough for our clients to focus on enhancing their respective leadership teams.”

What sectors are strongest right now?

We are seeing strength in our retail, restaurant, hospitality and franchise practices. Pent-up consumer demand has served these sectors well. As to disciplines, we are seeing increased demand for operations leadership, marketing and financial.

Has your firm adjusted in how it serves clients? 

We have maintained our values and laser-focused service to our clients while exercising patience and high levels of support during this trying period. We have enhanced our technology infrastructure to better serve our clients due to travel limitations and restrictions. The rise of remote teams, hybrid workforces and digital-first operations has changed the way the business world interacts. It is vital for us, our clients and candidates to adapt.

Related: Executive Search Firms Adapting to the New Normal

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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