Jobless Claims Fall as Election and Pandemic Second Wave Add to the Misery

This morning’s jobs figures portend an unstable and volatile job market as the election nears and the COVID-19 virus pushes into an unrelenting global second wave. Let’s take a look at the just released numbers from the Department of Labor as veteran recruiter Sean Rigsby of Rigsby Search Group weighs in!

October 29, 2020 – The Labor Department reported this morning that 751,000 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 778,000. The latest figures portend an unstable and volatile job market.

The total reflected a decline of 40,000 from the previous week. The last time the weekly claims total was lower was the 282,000 reported 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.

During the week, 51 states reported 10,324,779 individuals claiming Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits and 50 states reported 3,683,496 individuals claiming Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation benefits. The highest insured unemployment rates were in Hawaii (12.6), California (10.5), Nevada (10.0), Georgia (8.3), District of Columbia (7.9), Louisiana (7.8), Puerto Rico (7.4), Massachusetts (7.1), New Mexico (7.1), and Illinois (6.8). The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending October 17 were in Massachusetts (+5,442), Kansas (+3,010), Virginia (+2,255), Texas (+616), and Minnesota (+493), while the largest decreases were in California (-16,207), New York (-11,495), Georgia (-9,274), Florida (-7,834), and Michigan (-7,774).

Veteran Search Consultant Weights In

Sean P. Rigsby is the managing partner of Rigsby Search Group. He formed the firm in 2012 to meet the talent marketplace need for a more consultative approach to helping both clients and candidates. The firm specializes in finding key talent nationwide among multiple service lines within the environmental consulting industry.

Mr. Rigsby recently sat down with Hunt Scanlon Media to discuss how his firm has adjusted to the global pandemic and what impact he sees it having on the search industry.

Sean P. Rigsby
Sean P. Rigsby

Sean, since the COVID-19 pandemic began how have things changed for your business and how you work with clients?

The COVID-19 pandemic really affected us at the start. Around 30 percent of our search assignments were put on hold, but around six weeks into the pandemic our clients realized that things weren’t going to be changing anytime soon and began to open up hiring again, albeit very slowly. Clients have also limited their hiring to their top-priority positions which, while challenging, is something that we’ve been able to adapt to and where we see some growth. Communication has also changed a lot, with interviews shifting to services like Zoom and Microsoft Teams. Interviews as a whole have slowed down, and companies are taking more time to get to know candidates. It’s been challenging to foster genuine relationships in an era of near total remoteness, but it’s helped us to recognize the need to improve our online presence to provide better resources to our clients and candidates. We’re still operating above our yearly goals and feel very fortunate for what we’ve achieved during such an uncertain time.

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

We’ve been fortunate enough to have a lot of work where many people aren’t so lucky. Our clients are working to address specific needs but also require some strategic hires to put themselves in a position of strength for when the market bounces back. The Green Economy makes up around seven percent of U.S. GDP, according to Bloomberg last year, so we’re really excited about how our market will change and adapt in 2021 and the remainder of 2020. The pandemic has really tightened up hiring, with clients being more cautious about recruiting and candidates being more reluctant about considering opportunities, but it’s just a new challenge that we’re ready to take on and address.

“The pandemic has really tightened up hiring, with clients being more cautious about recruiting and candidates being more reluctant about considering opportunities.”

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

I think this pandemic really showed our clients which firms are trustworthy. We’re fortunate enough to be viewed as trusted advisors by our clients and we’re always working to do right by them. We’ve been working hard to keep in touch with all our clients, active or otherwise, and make sure that their needs are met and that they’re doing ok. This pandemic has shown the importance of client and candidate relationships. It’s also helped our business since we’re a remote firm. Before the pandemic companies were more skeptical of the work recruiters could do from home, but I feel that the shift to remote work in all sectors has really shifted everyone’s mindset to be more open to remote work. Overall I’m very optimistic about our industry and the market. Companies still need talented people to grow, and I don’t feel the pandemic will change that.

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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