June 17, 2021 – The Labor Department reported that 412,000 Americans filed new claims for state unemployment benefits. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones expected 360,000 new jobless claims. The previous week’s level was revised down by 1,000 from 376,000 to 375,000. The 4-week moving average was 395,000, a decrease of 8,000 from the previous week’s revised average. This is the lowest level for this average since March 14, 2020, when it was 225,500. Despite falling new jobless claims, almost 16 million Americans were still on some form of government assistance through all unemployment programs as of early June.
The Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell laid out a positive view of the labor market during a Wednesday press conference noting that while labor supply has unexpectedly curbed the recovery, it should bounce back as the economy reopens further. Skills mismatches, fears of COVID-19, childcare costs, and unemployment insurance are all likely playing a role in keeping Americans from rejoining the workforce, Mr. Powell said. As those factors fade and the country settles into a new normal, one can expect payroll growth to accelerate and for the labor market to stage a swift recovery, he added.
“I think it’s clear, and I am confident, that we are on a path to a very strong labor market,” Mr. Powell said. “I would expect that we would see strong job creation building up over the summer and going into the fall.”
During the week, 51 states reported 6,120,596 continued weekly claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits and 51 states reported 5,157,445 continued claims for Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation benefits. The highest insured unemployment rates in the week were in Nevada (4.6), Rhode Island (4.5), Alaska (3.9), Pennsylvania (3.9), California (3.6), Connecticut (3.6), New York (3.6), Illinois (3.5), Puerto Rico (3.5), and District of Columbia (3.3). The largest increases in initial claims for the week were in Illinois (+5,715), Ohio (+2,296), Delaware (+1,720), and Tennessee (+1,159), while the largest decreases were in Pennsylvania (-23,633), California (-19,120), Oklahoma (-3,788), Texas (-3,299), and New Jersey (-2,985).
Veteran Search Consultant Weighs In
Victor Carulla is founder and managing partner of Headway Executive Search and president of the International Executive Search Federation (IESF). Over the past 10 years, he has been involved in the executive search business while based in Barcelona and working throughout Spain & Portugal, specializing in senior management placements. Headway is part of IESF, which has more than 130 locations with 1,500 consultants/employees worldwide in more than 40 countries.
Mr. Carulla recently sat down with Hunt Scanlon Media to discuss the pandemic, jobs, hiring, and how his firm has adjusted to working with clients and candidates during the post-pandemic era. Following are excerpts from that discussion.
Victor, do you expect a hiring blitz as the pandemic closes out?
For sure. We will see big increases in hiring, but we should consider that there will be also lots of companies that have been deeply affected by the economic crisis that this pandemic has caused. So, some sectors will experience a high growth rate in their hirings, but others will not be able to catch up so fast.
Have there been any trends or changes happening within executive search that have gone little noticed while everyone has been focusing on the pandemic?
An important change in our business during the pandemic is how we have gone from seven percent +/- online interviews, to 99 percent online interviews. This is not a trend itself, but we do not see a return to the way things were. Most of the hiring executives and leaders we deal with prefer face-to-face interviews to really get to know the candidates and potential new hires. But once this pandemic completely ends, most of them will not likely go back again to meeting candidates in person. This is the most systemic change the pandemic will leave in its wake on our sector.
Is that troubling?
There are two things to take into consideration. The first is that online interviews save a lot of time, and it is easier and much more efficient for everyone to set up meetings in this fashion. The second is that we have realized that it does not matter where you are located, because technology can allow you to be part of the selection process wherever you are based. Technology has given us the power to make it happen, but we must remember that these are still early days, and we really are not yet ready for this transition. Big challenges remain as we grapple with this. No one has trained us on how to do these interviews properly to get the same (at least) amount of information that we could get before with a face-to-face interview. But we are all learning every day!
“Organizations have realized that flexibility and adaptation is a key value, but having said that, most of the ‘usual’ skills are still in demand because although we are in an extraordinary moment, and it is true that we need to adapt, we still need to run companies.”
Are organizations looking for a different kind of leader as a result of the pandemic? And what leadership traits are organizations seeking?
Organizations have realized that flexibility and adaptation is a key value, but having said that, most of the ‘usual’ skills are still in demand because although we are in an extraordinary moment, and it is true that we need to adapt, we still need to run companies. And that takes all the skills that we are accustomed to. Skills matter. Of course, in a world where we probably need to get used to managing people who work remotely, that requires different skills and from what we see not so many leaders are good at that.
Has your relationship with clients changed over the past year? Is your firm taking a greater role in shaping that relationship?
Client / recruiter relationships have changed a lot. The personal partnership we have enjoyed has been replaced with technology, at least for the moment. Proximity is so important to any relationship, and it especially matters in our field. Moving people around is a complex business. Spending time with clients and candidates uncovers so much that does not come through a Zoom video chat. Let’s see where we are a year from now.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media