April 1, 2021 – The Labor Department reported this morning that 719,000 Americans filed new claims for state unemployment benefits. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg expected 675,000 filings. This is the lowest level for this average since March 14, 2020 when it was 225,500. The previous week’s average was revised down by 6,500 from 736,000 to 729,500. The Fed have now reported over 80 million initial jobless claims over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic — a number equivalent to roughly 47 percent of the nation’s workforce. Since last February, the United States has lost over 10 million jobs. While the number of weekly claims remains inordinately high by historical means, the trend is falling now that the U.S. economy continues to reopen and close to 3 million Americans receive vacations each day for COVID-19, according to CNBC.
“Taking the two weeks together it’s clear that the trend in claims is falling,” said Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics. “We expect a sustained sharp decline in the second quarter as the economy reopens,” he said, making it easier for businesses under financial stress to hold onto employees. “We could actually finally see the jobless claims numbers come down because there’s enough job creation to offset the layoffs,” said Julia Pollak, a labor economist at the job site ZipRecruiter. But Ms. Pollak cautioned that benefits applications would not return to normal overnight. Even as many companies resume normal operations, others are discovering that the pandemic has permanently disrupted their business model. “There are still a lot of business closures and a lot of layoffs that have yet to happen,” she said. “The repercussions of this pandemic are still rippling through this economy.”
Why a Flexible Workforce Matters Now More Than Ever
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During the week, 50 states reported 7,349,663 continued weekly claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits and 51 states reported 5,515,355 continued claims for Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation benefits. The highest insured unemployment rates were in Pennsylvania (5.5), Nevada (5.4), Alaska (5.0), Puerto Rico (4.9), Connecticut (4.7), New York (4.4), California (4.0), Rhode Island (4.0), the Virgin Islands (4.0), and Illinois (3.9). The largest increases in initial claims were in Massachusetts (+11,386), Texas (+7,599), Connecticut (+4,170), Maryland (+2,605), and Virginia (+2,035), while the largest decreases were in Illinois (-55,580), Ohio (-45,808), California (-13,331), New York (-4,251), and Florida (-2,991).
Veteran Search Consultant Weighs In
Rob Bowerman is the founder and president of The Bowerman Group. Since 2009, the search firm has partnered with emerging and established global companies from the world of men’s and women’s RTW, accessories, watches, jewelry, home furnishings and beauty. Mr. Bowerman 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 these difficult times. Following are excerpts from that discussion.
Rob, with vaccines being distributed and restrictions being lifted, do you think an economic recovery is finally underway?
Absolutely! For context, our practice is focused on premium and luxe consumer brands, with most of our clients having a retail-centric presence in North America. We saw a significant uptick in retail searches starting mid-January based on increased traffic in certain markets and the optimism of continued sales improvement across all channels and markets. Spending by the high net-worth customer, a lynchpin of our client companies’ business, actually remained strong through 2020 in the home and jewelry categories with fashion and accessories accelerating more recently.
When do you think we can expect a full recovery?
Until travel is unrestricted, I don’t believe we will be at a full recovery. We should see continued and accelerated growth through the next two quarters with optimism toward a near or full recovery during the fourth quarter.
“I believe that we will keep the positive aspects of this process going forward, with in-person interviews still desired at the final steps.”
How has your firm adjusted to working with clients during the pandemic? Do you think some of these changes will be here to stay?
The cadence and logistics of interviews have changed, with many of our placements happening solely through video interviews. I believe that we will keep the positive aspects of this process going forward, with in-person interviews still desired at the final steps. From the candidate point of view, the future of work is shifting toward more desire for a hybrid model for corporate roles – time split between the office and remote/home. Ability to flex work conditions to best suit the employee will continue to become a necessary differentiator for companies to compete for top talent.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media