Nearly One Million More Americans File for Unemployment as Nation Awaits Presidential Transition

As COVID-19 vaccinations are slowly distributed, a U.S. economic recovery struggles to take shape as millions of Americans claim unemployment benefits heading into 2021. Recruiting veteran Steve Landberg of Claymore Partners weighs in!

January 14, 2021 – The Labor Department reported this morning that 965,000 more Americans filed new claims for state unemployment benefits last week. The total was worse than Wall Street estimates of 800,000 and above the previous week’s total of 784,000. “The race between vaccine distribution and mounting labor market damage continues,” said AnnElizabeth Konkel, economist at Indeed Hiring Lab. “Even once vaccine distribution starts making a real dent in case numbers, it will still be a long road to a full economic recovery. Spring weather conditions will hopefully be a boost, allowing businesses and restaurants to again operate outdoors more easily.”

“A large-scale infrastructure bill would broaden the economy,” and improve the situation for those demographics who have shouldered the greatest burden during the coronavirus pandemic, Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock, told CNBC. “I can’t think of another more important thing.”

During the week, 49 states reported 7,442,888 continued weekly claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits and 50 states reported 4,166,261 continued claims for Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation benefits. The highest insured unemployment rates in the week ending December 26 were in Pennsylvania (6.6), Alaska (6.5), Kansas (6.4), New Mexico (5.9), Illinois (5.6), Washington (5.6), Nevada (5.5), the Virgin Islands (5.3), Minnesota (5.2), and California (5.0). The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending January 2 were in Louisiana (+17,119), Kansas (+15,400), Texas (+14,541), Georgia (+12,498), and Washington (+10,950), while the largest decreases were in Illinois (-65,099), California (-7,743), Maryland (-2,088), and Florida (-1,836).

Veteran Search Consultant Weighs In

Founder and managing director of Claymore Partners, Steve Landberg has specialized in financial services and consulting executive search since 2004. He spoke with Hunt Scanlon Media recently to discuss how he has dealt with the pandemic and forecast his expectations for the future.

        Steve Landberg

Steve, since the pandemic began how have things changed for your business and how you engage with clients?

The pandemic crisis had a major impact for our business initially, but then started recovering by September and has been accelerating since then with 2021 looking strong. We continued to dialogue with our clients on a regular basis providing insights and perspectives on the market, competition, and candidate trends that we see. Claymore Partners invested in additional technology capabilities for communicating with our clients and candidates. We also expanded our connections and increasingly focused on growth areas within our target markets, such as digital transformation, healthcare, cloud transition, and cybersecurity, as well as shifted toward mid-sized and smaller client organizations that were in interesting niches and required talent.

How have clients reacted?

Many clients initially reacted by holding off on hiring and many reduced their workforces dependent upon how their businesses were being impacted by the pandemic and used this time to adjust their workforce resources. Other clients shifted their focus and resources toward areas that were growing during this difficult time. Some clients sought to keep what limited searches they had for their internal teams to keep them employed rather than utilize their third-party search partners. There was almost a complete shift to remote work and interviewing as well as on boarding that largely remains today. Interview processes were also adjusted to reflect this remote reality and many clients added testing to their screening processes for both skills and culture fit.

“Many clients initially reacted by holding off on hiring and many reduced their workforces dependent upon how their businesses were being impacted by the pandemic and used this time to adjust their workforce resources.”

What do you see for the job market and the search industry in 2021?

For 2021, we see an accelerating job market and growth for the search industry throughout the year with the second half being a strong market. The economy is expected to grow at an attractive rate this year as the vaccines roll out and people return to more normal behaviors with increased safety and reduced health concerns. For our target markets, we see banks resuming growth with expected enhanced profitability and rising rates, reduced risks, and further operating leverage created via digital transformations. Investment management/brokerage firms are expected to continue their growth experienced during the pandemic as the markets have been rewarding and interesting for investors and more retail clients. Insurers are also adjusting to the lower rate, new investment environment the impact due to the climate changes for property casualty insurers so they are expected to continue their sound but careful growth. Our management consulting and IT consulting clients have trimmed where necessary last year and now are starting to grow in key areas that are emerging even stronger in 2021 such as digital transformation, cloud transitions, cybersecurity, and risk management.

What lasting impact will the pandemic have on executive search?

The pandemic has sped up the rate of change for businesses and executive search including rapidly expanding the use of online collaboration tools and technologies as well as the use of remote employees and hybrid working environments. Employers are increasingly utilizing remote workers and this will remain to be the case post crisis. This has expanded the available candidate pools for their organizations while increasing the importance of communications and collaboration tools and approaches to be successful. Managing remote and hybrid workforces will clearly be a critical skill for business leaders and for conducting executive searches. For search professionals, the importance of location or relocation will continue to modify search parameters. However, we also expect a return to more in-person meetings and work environments as the pandemic comes under control. With an executive’s values evolving more towards health, safety, work/life balance, diversity, and organizational values, recruiters and clients must also focus increasingly on those factors and the attractiveness of the value proposition for executives to move for a new opportunity. It is time to revitalize recruitment to address these lasting impacts.

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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