May 13, 2021 – The Labor Department reported that 473,000 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 previous week’s level was revised up by 9,000 from 498,000 to 507,000. The four-week moving average was 534,000, a decrease of 28,250 from the previous week’s revised average. This is also the lowest level for this average since March 14, 2020 when it was 225,500. Since last February, the U.S. has lost over 11 million jobs. “Net, claims fell more than expected last week,” said Rubeela Farooqi, chief U.S. economist for High Frequency Economics. “Filings are well below 796,000, on average, in the first quarter. But the level remains higher than an average 218,000 in 2019. The reopening is continuing, and businesses are less constrained by restrictions. We expect layoffs to ease further as the economy move closer towards normal capacity.”
“Labor supply appears to be tighter than the unemployment rate suggests, likely reflecting the impact of unusually generous unemployment benefits and lingering virus-related impediments to working,” Goldman Sachs chief economist Jan Hatzius said in a note this week about the April jobs report. He added, however, that “it is hard to know how exactly much of the miss these factors account for.”
During the week, 51 states reported 7,283,703 continued weekly claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits and 51 states reported 5,265,193 continued claims for Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation benefits. The highest insured unemployment rates were in Nevada (6.4), Connecticut (4.9), Rhode Island (4.6), Alaska (4.5), Vermont (4.5), Illinois (4.4), Puerto Rico (4.4), New York (4.2), Pennsylvania (4.0), and District of Columbia (3.6). The largest increases in initial claims were in Kentucky (+4,714), New Jersey (+2,002), Delaware (+1,294), Vermont (+1,142), and Puerto Rico (+824), while the largest decreases were in Virginia (-25,125), New York (-9,533), Florida (-8,252), California (-7,840), and Oklahoma (-6,392).
A View From Canada
René Tardif is the national practice leader and partner with Optimum Talent and is responsible for leading the firm’s private sector executive search practice in Canada. He is passionate about the recruitment industry and is actively involved in every aspect of the search process, including business development, research, interviewing, candidate assessments, and client management. Mr. Tardif has placed top executives for leading organizations in a variety of industries with a focus on the industrial services market in Northern Alberta.
Mr. Tardif 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 pandemic era. Following are excerpts from that discussion.
René, when do you expect the economy to turn the corner and get back to something resembling normal in Canada?
While Canada experienced a significant economic contraction in 2020, some experts caution that the strength of Canada’s recovery (and, indeed, most other countries) will continue to be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and to a large extent depend on the successful distributions of vaccines against COVID-19. The pandemic dynamics, specifically vaccine distribution progress relative to the impact of worrisome variants, will play out to either mute the growth forecast or catalyze the expected growth. Not discounting the COVID-19 caution, some experts suggest that Canada’s economy is well down the path, if not around the corner. Growth forecasts reviewed range from four to six percent for 2021. Expectations for 2021 economic growth nearing six percent takes us close to pre-pandemic levels of aggregate GDP and in fact, this projected growth would be the highest since 1973.
Is the recovery nationwide?
Economic recovery is less regionally focused and more related to the type of industry with the industrial sector performing much better than services for example. BDC suggests that, in general, economic growth will be higher in provinces that were hit hardest by the economic fallout of COVID-19 in 2020: 4.5 percent at the high end (Ontario) with a 2.5 percent range in the Atlantic provinces. The Conference Board of Canada chief economist Pedro Antunes has said “… activities that require in-person transactions continue to be the hardest hit.” In conversation it was reinforced that service industries: tourism, hospitality, airlines, travel, leisure, entertainment all have taken a big hit, very negatively impacted by the COVID-19 public health constraints and are anticipated to continue to have significant lag until they come back.
So, generally, there is optimism in Canada.
From a medium to longer term perspective the good news is that there is pent up demand among consumers for getting out more, going to restaurants, shopping in stores, going to theatres or arts and culture venues and jumping on planes to travel. Taking an optimistic perspective, one direct answer to this question is that Canada is turning the corner, a rebound in economic activity is very much underway, even though this rebound may not be evenly distributed across industries nor regions. Looking through the talent lens there is still slack in the Canadian economy with unemployment at 8.2 percent, versus five percent range pre-pandemic. There is little wage inflation at this point, there is slack in the system on the labor side. For now, there is general availability of labor although a longer-term trend to monitor and manage is that demographically Canada is functioning below our population replacement rate. Strong immigration numbers will continue to be an important support to our growth. In conclusion, strong industrial activity, pent up demand among consumers, their increasing willingness to participate, government recovery and growth spending, strong commodity prices, freight index strength, strong earnings growth expected in the Canadian market, inflation estimates well within acceptable range and expectation for interest rates to stay low are all indicators of Canada’s ability to turn the corner. Importantly economists’ revisions for economic growth are generally trending up.
“Although the Canadian economy may vary from one province to another and from one part of the country to another, we can identify at least two key trends which are worth pointing out: First, there is a thirst for diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEI&B) when the time comes for recruiting, particularly at C-suite and board position levels and second, there is a shift in the ideal profile of leadership required at CEO positions.”
What expectations do you have for the search industry for the rest of the year ahead?
Although the Canadian economy may vary from one province to another and from one part of the country to another, we can identify at least two key trends which are worth pointing out: First, there is a thirst for diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEI&B) when the time comes for recruiting, particularly at C-suite and board position levels and second, there is a shift in the ideal profile of leadership required at CEO positions.
Globalization has had an impact?
Globalization has changed drastically the way organizations operate: On the one hand, there are no more barriers between countries and continents, partly driven by technology and data analysis and on another side, talent and competencies are more and more accessible. But in doing so, looking at the world demography, it becomes clear that organizations must make room and integrate appropriately managers from all origins, considering DEI&B. There is still a long way to go before we can achieve a certain level of equilibrium but in doing so, organizations, as well as the community, will benefit from an invaluable value added by mixing such a pool of talent.
What is producing the new leadership profile you mentioned?
Because so many changes have taken place throughout the world in recent years, partly driven by COVID-19, additional pressure has been put on our leaders. A new profile of leadership has risen from this pressure. Consequently, competencies that were desirable in the past have become unmissable. Once again, data analysis, artificial intelligence, and technology just to name a few have much to do in the design of a new leadership style. Thus, today’s new CEO will demonstrate humility, courage, empathy, and engagement but will also focus on managing people and relations as they manage results during crisis and turbulence. They will need to improve their innovation processes and execution, accelerate the digital transformation of their organizations while keeping the focus on the longer-term vision. In a nutshell, the world of CEOs has never been so challenging!
What keeps you awake night?
Diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. While it has long been a hot-button topic in recruitment realms, the Black Lives Matter movement has made it front and center for virtually all our clients. We are actively seeking ways to stay ahead of the curve in terms of thought leadership for our clients, while also doing our best to listen, learn, educate, and improve internally. Onboarding – We know that a huge part of a successful hire is successful onboarding. We measure our success by our “stick rate” and if candidates are unsuccessful due to onboarding, particularly if their recruitment and onboarding have been entirely virtual, it makes for unhappy clients, unhappy candidates, and unhappy search professionals. We are offering onboarding coaching to clients who choose to take it as a means of closing the gap.
What’s strong right now?
All leadership roles – when clients must be mindful of cash conservation, as we saw through the pandemic, they are being selective about when to partner with a search firm. As a result, the ratio of C-suite to non-c-suite roles is higher than ever. Additionally, there is ongoing scrutiny of publicly funded positions, so the public sector search practice remains strong. Within the private sector we have noticed growth within the industrial, supply chain (particularly in logistics), industrial space/industrial real-estate are all very strong and anticipate that trend to continue even post-pandemic. Pent up demand among consumers for getting out more, going to restaurants, shopping in stores, going to theatres or arts and culture venues and jumping on planes to travel which could and likely will translate into new employment opportunities as they ramp up.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media