Jobless Claims Fall as Pandemic Subsides in U.S.

Jobless claims continue to fall week after week in the U.S. Overseas, troubles persist. For a global view, Pat O’Donnell, managing partner of Principal Connections – the Irish Office of Agilium Worldwide Executive Search Group – discusses the pandemic, hiring, and how his firm has adjusted to working with clients and candidates.

June 3, 2021 – The Labor Department reported that 385,000 Americans filed new claims for state unemployment benefits. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones expected 387,000 new jobless claims. This is the lowest level for initial claims since March 14, 2020, when it was 256,000.

The four-week moving average was 428,000, a decrease of 30,500. This is the lowest level for this average since March 14, 2020, when it was 225,500. Despite falling new jobless claims, almost 16 million Americans were still on some form of government assistance through all unemployment programs as of early May.

“While initial jobless claims come well after the survey period for May employment, it will be useful to see the latest data for continuing claims — particularly the federal UI programs (PEUC and PUA),” Brett Ryan, senior U.S. economist for Deutsche Bank, wrote in a note ahead of Thursday’s report. “As of the first week of May, the four-week average of PEUC and PUA claimants was approximately 11.97 million, down a little over 740K from the beginning of April.”

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“Note that 23 states will be ending these programs prior to the federal cutoff in the first week of September. These states represent around 22% of those currently collecting federal benefits. Hence, it will be interesting to see how these states perform in the coming months as they begin to cut benefits for roughly 2.6 million people between June and July,” he added.

During the week, 51 states reported 6,368,301 continued weekly claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits and 51 states reported 5,293,842 continued claims for Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation benefits. The highest insured unemployment rates were in Nevada (5.5), Rhode Island (4.6), Puerto Rico (4.5), Connecticut (4.3), Alaska (4.2), New York (3.8), Pennsylvania (3.8), Illinois (3.6), California (3.5), and District of Columbia (3.5). The largest increases in initial claims for the week were in Delaware (+2,187), Illinois (+1,688), Pennsylvania (+1,347), California (+773), and Rhode Island (+644), while the largest decreases were in Washington (-8,020), New Jersey (-5,290), Florida (-4,679), Ohio (-3,844), and Michigan (-2,605).

View from Ireland

Pat O’Donnell is managing partner of Principal Connections – the Irish Office of Agilium Worldwide Executive Search Group. He holds expertise in conducting executive search assignments for the recruitment of CEOs, senior executives and board directors. Headquartered in Dublin with regional offices in Galway, Principal Connections has advised many of Ireland’s private, public, and not-for-profit organizations to identify, assess and recruit elite executives and board directors to drive their agendas.

Mr. O’Donnell 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.

Pat O’Donnell

Pat, with vaccine distribution underway and restrictions being lifted across the United States, what’s the view from Ireland?

In Ireland, the country has embarked on a gradual reopening which started on May 10. If we can avoid a fourth wave of the coronavirus, I believe that we will see an incremental recovery take place around Q3. We then should gain some momentum and, I suspect, a full recovery will take shape around the midpoint of 2022. Of course, economic recovery will hinge on a combination of factors, but aptly the Irish government is set to publish its National Economic Recovery Plan this time next month. It is expected to show the vision for what the post-COVID-19 economy in Ireland will look like and importantly how businesses and employees will be supported.

How has your firm adjusted to working with clients during the pandemic?

The biggest adjustment that Principal Connections has made since April of last year has been to ensure that we do everything we can to support clients, helping them to navigate through the ebbs and flows of managing all their executive search and other human capital requirements virtually. Of course, it is an art, as well as a science. One point that we gave particular attention to was how we would recreate the in-person meeting, online in a video setting. We decided to increase client touch points, and developed a virtual relationship management strategy, as well as a virtual talent acquisition and retention strategy for clients which outlined how to adapt behaviour, actions, and processes to ensure that we would all be successful in utilising a full-blown digital approach to talent management.

Do you think some of these changes will be here to stay?

COVID-19 has caused disruption, but also innovation and transformation across most major sectors worldwide. Pre-pandemic strategic plans and operating models became redundant almost overnight. Thus, businesses that have since reconfigured and redefined operating practices and processes to continue their activities despite the adverse realities imposed by COVID-19 will soon come out the other side of the pandemic with a much-enhanced tool kit. There is no doubt that where such newly adopted practices and processes have achieved better outcomes they will certainly be retained and possibly further evolved.

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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