Jobless Claims Still Remain High as Recovery Looms

With more states and cities returning to normal, the jobs economy continues to show slow signs of improvement. This morning, veteran search consultant Keith Kefgen of AETHOS Consulting Group shares his views on the economic recovery.

July 29, 2021 – The Labor Department reported that 400,000 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. The median estimate from economists surveyed by Bloomberg was for a decline to 385,000 claims. The previous week’s level was revised up by 5,000 from 419,000 to 424,000. The four-week moving average was 394,500, an increase of 8,000 from the previous week’s revised average. The previous week’s average was revised up by 1,250 from 385,250 to 386,500.

Looking ahead, COVID-19 cases are ticking up as the highly contagious delta variant spreads among the unvaccinated. The United States is reporting an average of more than 50,000 new cases a day, up from fewer than 12,000 a day in late June. According to the Associates Press, the increase in cases could have economic consequences if governments decide to restrict business activity again or if consumers choose to stay at home as a precaution.

Executive Recruiters & Talent Leaders
Reveal Market Forecast

The pandemic caused an unprecedented disruption to executive search activity in 2020. Executive recruiters spent the better part of last year resetting expectations in the midst of an unprecedented interruption to their business. But according to recruiting industry leaders interviewed for this report, the search business is turning a significant corner.

We take a critical look back, examine search firm performance, and uncover fresh market opportunities. Leading executive recruiters offer up their viewpoints, and forecasts, for 2021. The good news: optimism reigns. And that means we could be in for one of the biggest growth spurts the executive search sector has enjoyed in years. Here’s our latest thinking. A special thanks to our co-sponsor: N2GrowthBuy your copy today!

According to Business Insider, unemployment insurance — and the federal government’s $300 weekly supplement — has been blamed by some for exacerbating the worker shortage. Twenty-six states have announced plans to cancel the boost ahead of its September expiration, with governors saying the move should drive more people into the workforce.

During the week, 47 states reported 5,246,162 continued weekly claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits and 46 states reported 4,233,883 continued claims for Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation benefits. The highest insured unemployment rates in the week were in Puerto Rico (5.2), California (4.4), Nevada (4.3), New Jersey (3.8), Rhode Island (3.8), Illinois (3.7), New York (3.5), Pennsylvania (3.5), Connecticut (3.4), and District of Columbia (3.2). The largest increases in initial claims for the week were in Michigan (+13,547), Texas (+10,730), Kentucky (+8,945), Missouri (+6,056), and Illinois (+3,915), while the largest decreases were in New York (-10,727), Puerto Rico (-3,904), Tennessee (-3,510), Oklahoma (-3,393), and Georgia (-1,870).

Talent Expert Weighs In

AETHOS Consulting Group is a global hospitality advisory firm serving people-driven businesses (including the hotel, restaurant, casino, cruise line, club and travel sectors). Core competencies include executive search, compensation consulting, organizational development and psychometric assessments.

With nearly 30 years of experience in hospitality, Keith Kefgen is managing director and CEO. Having graduated from the Cornell University Hotel School, he went on to work at the Waldorf Astoria before embarking upon a career in hospitality executive search. He was the CEO and founder of HVS Executive Search before joining AETHOS.

A frequent lecturer on industry-related issues, Mr. Kefgen has written more than 200 articles on the topics of executive selection, pay-for-performance, corporate governance and executive leadership.

He 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.

         Keith Kefgen

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

In hospitality, it will be a longer road to recovery. With job displacement and the lack of business travel, things will not be back to normal for a while. I suspect it will be two steps forward and one back for a couple of years. The travel industry will be forever changed. Much of it may be a good thing long term.

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

Industry specialists like ourselves will have peaks and valleys. I believe there will be waves of search work that follow dry spells. The key will be staying power and diversity of client and service. We are a multi-service search firm (we also do compensation consulting and performance management). This allows us to even out the peaks and valleys.

“Certain roles such as technology, revenue management, and real estate finance are hot again.”

What sectors are strongest right now?

In the travel industry, sectors such as meeting & conventions, group travel will continue to be down. That said casinos, resorts and restaurants are coming back with a vengeance. Certain roles such as technology, revenue management, real estate finance are hot again. Also entry level and line level jobs are extremely difficult to fill at the moment.

Has your firm adjusted in how it serves clients?

Clients are expecting faster delivery. They don’t have the resources or the time to wait. We are doing everything in our power to deliver a thorough search in as little time as possible.

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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