February 25, 2021 – The Labor Department reported this morning that 730,000 more Americans filed new claims for state unemployment benefits. That was below the Dow Jones estimate for 825,000 but a slight decrease from the previous week’s upwardly revised total of 841,00. The Fed have now reported about 78 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.
The figures continue to far exceed their pre-crisis levels as the resurgent pandemic leads to more stringent business restrictions and raises people’s fears of infection. Vaccine distribution is expected to restore economic activity later this year, but the rollout has been slower than expected and is limiting the speed at which the job market is able to recover. President Biden recently released details of his $1.9 trillion economic relief plan. If approved, it would provide $400 per week in supplementary unemployment benefits through September, aid for state and local governments, and direct payments of $1,400 to individuals.
Coronavirus caseloads have been dropping amid efforts to get vaccines to people who are most vulnerable. But until employers and consumers feel that the pandemic is under control, economists say, the labor market won’t fully recover. “Until people feel this is sustained and that there’s not another huge wave coming, I can’t imagine we’re going to see big changes in jobless claims for a while,” said Allison Schrager, an economist at the Manhattan Institute.
During the week, 51 states reported 7,518,951 continued weekly claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits and 51 states reported 5,065,890 continued claims for Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation benefits. The highest insured unemployment rates in the week were in Pennsylvania (6.5), the Virgin Islands (6.3), Rhode Island (6.2), Alaska (5.8), Nevada (5.8), Connecticut (5.2), New York (5.0), Illinois (4.8), Michigan (4.8), and New Mexico (4.8). The largest increases in initial claims for the week were in Illinois (+28,110), Ohio (+6,563), Idaho (+4,764), Kansas (+1,744), and California (+1,664), while the largest decreases were in Maryland (-9,835), Rhode Island (-6,129), Georgia (-5,854), New Jersey (-4,630), and Texas (-4,234).
Veteran Search Consultant Weighs In
Tim Tolan is managing partner and CEO of The Tolan Group. He has been in the healthcare field for over 25 years holding executive-level positions for companies both public and private. His network comes from years of serving as a senior healthcare executive and in top level positions with ProxyMed, Healtheon/WebMD, ePhysician, and CITATION Computer Systems. Mr. Tolan also spent 12 years in leadership roles in the physician practice management marketplace.
His broad healthcare experience allows him to focus on recruiting for non-profit organizations, behavioral health, substance abuse and PE/VC firms, human/family services, health plans/payers, healthcare delivery networks, software and services companies, outsourcing organizations, and healthcare information technology vendors.
Mr. Tolan recently sat down with Hunt Scanlon Media to discuss the pandemic, hiring, and to forecast his expectations for 2021. Following are excerpts from that discussion.
Tim, many are optimistic that we will see a more normal business clients within the next 12 months. How do you think this recovery will occur?
I think the recovery has already started despite what we hear from the media. Companies that want to continue plans to grow started months ago in scaling and upgrading their talent needs. This is especially true when it relates to most PE-backed companies. In the healthcare sector we serve, the biggest challenge was the trickle down economic effects of the inability to see patients by both providers and health systems all related to COVID-19 shutdowns across the United States. We have been quite busy in the sector mainly because these organizations had to reopen or find alternate ways to deliver their services based on where they were located. Some states are still challenged by government-mandated restrictions, but those restrictions are slowly being lifted and some states are completely back to normal. So the market dynamics will help with the recovery – not the political or government forces that shut things down in the beginning of the pandemic. Business leaders are more confident now that we have multiple vaccines in distribution so it’s really only a matter of time before we see businesses thriving again. It will happen in 2021 for most sectors while hospitality and travel will take longer to recover.
In regards to the executive search industry, how busy has your firm been during the pandemic?
Extremely busy. When we all went remote in mid-March we definitely felt a slowdown in new assignments while other assignments were placed on hold. Some have come back and a few of the roles we engaged in will probably take longer to resurface. One of the metrics that drives our business are new logos in both operating companies and new PE firms that sign up to use our services. We are far ahead of our 2021 plan on a run rate basis and feel strongly we will bounce back a normal state very soon. We also expanded our service line focus during the pandemic and remained active even though many of our clients and prospects we working from home and for a while were not engaged at all. We remained at full employment even though we altered our working hours for our associates. That has all returned to normal. Worth noting, we have been using video in our firm for more than a decade so Zoom, Blue Jeans, Teams, and Ring Central have been routine for us for a long time so adapting to the new normal was very easy for us. Lastly, we have 40 percent of our team working remotely (in four states) so the changes we had to make were very easy to implement.
“Business leaders are more confident now that we have multiple vaccines in distribution so it’s really only a matter of time before we see businesses thriving again.”
How has your firm adjusted to serving clients during this time? Will these practices remain with the firm when things return to normal?
The biggest change was not doing as many face-to-face interviews with candidates/clients. Part of our job was to educate our clients on how to use virtual tools to screen and interview candidates without ever seeing them in person. It took a while to get some of our clients comfortable with the concept – but within a month or so we were off to the races. Some of the changes around remote virtual interviewing will remain in perpetuity as a natural interim step instead of having candidates fly in to meet face to face. The face-to-face step will still be important, but I can actually see reductions in the cost of hiring overall as video is here to stay and will be for the foreseeable future. We introduced our client portal a few years ago where clients have 24/7 access to our candidate pipeline including all testing and related candidate material we use daily in our firm. Clients don’t need to call us to get answers to where things stand on any given assignment. It’s all in the cloud and they can access the information in a matter of seconds to see where we are in each assignment.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media