Surge in Jobless Claims Continues

Jobless claims reached 36.5 million as COVID-19 sparks unmitigated mass layoffs across the U.S., inflicting unprecedented economic damage to the economy, jobs and livelihoods. Let’s go inside the latest report just released this morning. Executive search consultants from Kinsley Sarn, Tri-Search, Egret Consulting, Direct Recruiters, StevenDouglas, The Tolan Group, and Willis Consulting weigh in.

May 14, 2020 – Americans displaced by the coronavirus crisis again filed for unemployment benefits in historic numbers within the last seven days, with the Labor Department reporting this morning another surge of 2.98 million claims. More than 36.5 million people have now filed for unemployment benefits over the past two months, representing the biggest loss in U.S. history. These figures are now at the highest levels not seen since The Great Depression, some 90 years ago. But the difference between now and then, say economists, is vastly different. Over the span of the last nine decades support structures and financial engineering techniques have been created to help the nation weather the worst of storms.

“The numbers are very high, but they’re stepping down every week, and I see no reason why that decline in filings wouldn’t continue,” Keith Hall, chief economist for the Council of Economic Advisers under former President George W. Bush told the Wall Street Journal. “Employers are likely poised to bring people back, but right now we’re in a holding pattern.” How long that takes is an open question. Some economists have warned that it could take a decade to re-absorb this many unemployed workers.


2 New Recruiting Guides Focus On Adaptation, Forecasts and Recovery

The nation’s vast executive search community and their clients are quickly adapting to the new realities of Covid-19 – and what it means for hiring in 2020 and beyond.

Hunt Scanlon’s latest executive recruiting industry sector report series will be available in 30 days. Hunt Scanlon Media will offer its two-part ‘Executive Recruiting State of the Industry Report’ focused on the Covid-19 pandemic and its aftermath. Part 1, ‘Adapting in Uncertain Times’ will examine how executive recruiters are resetting expectations in the midst of an unprecedented interruption to their business.

The part 2 installment, ‘Forecast & Recovery Strategies’ is our aftermath report – and provides critical data to guide your decisions and inform you on forward-thinking recovery strategies. Industry experts from across the talent and recruiting spectrum offer up their wide-ranging opinions, definitive viewpoints, and expert forecasts.

Hear from top talent experts, including: Options Group; Odgers Berndtson; ZRG; Wilton & Bain; Perrett Laver; Cejka Search; Thrive; Academic Search; Vetted Solutions; ON Partners; Versique; NPA Worldwide; Borrer Executive Search; IESF; Hightech Partners; Robin Judson Partners; Preng & Associates; Hartman Group Consulting; Cornerstone International; College Sports Solutions; Greenwich Harbor Partners; RevelOne; Human Capital Group; Slone Partners; De Forest Search; Westwood Partners; WGNinHR; Turning Point Executive Search; RSR Partners; Presidio Search Group & more! Buy Both Reports Now!


During the latest reporting period, ending May 9, a few states saw decreases in the adjusted claims for unemployment including Texas (-102,263) and California (-102,229). Florida and Georgia reported over 200,000 claims with Connecticut reporting the largest surge in new claims of 262,542. Connecticut has now witnessed a more than 700 percent increase in applications for jobless aid. Once again, the federal unemployment data illustrates the wide-ranging economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, which has spared no state or industry

“With most states only beginning to ease their lockdowns within the last 10 days, we expect a much bigger swing in hiring versus firing over the next couple of weeks, which suggests the unemployment rate will begin to drop back,” said Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics to CNBC.

While unemployment claims have been on the decline since March 28th, joblessness remains pervasive throughout the country even as states begin to reopen. Future reports should indicate better how the reopening of the country is impacting jobs.

“I don’t think we’ll be able to draw conclusions yet because there’s a lot of noise in data, and other factors are at play,” Adam Kamins, director of economic research at Moody’s Analytics told the Wall Street Journal. “But it may start to point us in the direction of understanding what the upside to reopening is.”

“Make no mistake about it, the unemployment situation is dire and likely to continue that way until the economy is opened back up,” Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst for Bankrate said in a statement to the Washington Post. “Even then, significant challenges will remain.”

What Recruiters Are Saying

 “These are unprecedented times and I believe we will feel the business impact for some time,” said Jonathan Sarn, partner at Kinsley Sarn. “With fewer opportunities and a large pool of available candidates, the power has shifted once again back to the employer. This is being further exacerbated by those who are still employed but are open to new opportunities due to uncertainty and fear. However, for those companies with the foresight and willingness to take action, this is a prime opportunity to add additional expertise, upgrade existing talent or augment current teams in preparation of an economic return.“

Related: Jobless Claims Reach 30 Million in Six Weeks

“In terms of our response to this unprecedented crisis, this is a time for us to be agile, to pivot and quickly improvise to help solve the difficult circumstances companies now face; whether it’s the need for rapid sourcing and on-boarding or experienced and empathetic transition services,” said Bob Aylsworth, CEO and co-founder of Tri-Search. “This is also an important time for us to come together and give back. We are being flexible with our fees as well as spearheading a charity initiative. If everyone jumps in and does a little to help, we will get through this as a country together. Never before has partnership counted for so much.”


Executive Recruiters Roll Up Their Sleeves as COVID-19 Crisis Unfolds
The COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on every business sector, executive recruiting included. Kenneth Vancini of Innova International brings us the latest thinking after convening recent conference calls with 23 leaders from search firms across the country. Also, we have the initial results from the latest Hunt Scanlon Media ‘Pulse Survey’ of leading U.S. recruiters. It’s a full docket!


“On our client side, we have seen many companies implement furloughs, layoffs or salary reductions. The majority of companies are not hiring at this point but a few are taking advantage of the top talent that’s available and proceeding with video interviews and onboarding,” said Brooke Ziolo, president of Egret Consulting. “The majority of companies are very willing to have conversations about their business and their goals / plans to hire when the restrictions lift. Companies that are not willing to hire without a face to face interview are still doing phone and video interviews so they are ready to move forward as soon as the travel restrictions are lifted.”

“In my over 20 years in search there has been just two times where I have had these feelings of uncertainty and that was the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the financial meltdown of 2008,” said Dan Charney, president and CEO of Direct Recruiters Inc. “My prediction for the rest of 2020 and 2021 based on the past and the unique challenges that COVID-19 presents to the world is that Q2 2020 will be a challenging time with many industries adjusting to the ‘new normal’ and taking a wait and see position as it relates to hiring and spending because of concerns over COVID -19 coupled with this fall’s presidential election.”

“There will be ‘essential’ industries that may thrive and there will be industries that were not essential that will almost overnight be in hypergrowth mode,” he said. “I believe starting in Q3 and for the rest of the year, in spite of the election and the lingering or second wave of the virus, that  companies that adapt, innovate and invest will have some success. We will see some new things out of the sports and entertainment industries and the hospitality industries as well. 2021, in my opinion will see a sharp rebound for most businesses. There will be a pent up demand for hiring, capital equipment and technology. There will be a handful of new companies that will become household names and the healthcare industry will rebound, adapt and innovate so they are even better prepared to deal with another pandemic.”

“The last two months have been a roller-coaster ride going from a hyper growth booming economy to a complete lock down where companies were frozen and not sure what to do,” said Matt Shore, president of StevenDouglas. “Now that the initial shock has worn off, we have seen our clients taking searches and interim projects off of hold, making offers on searches that had stalled close to the finish line, and engaging us on new searches and projects.”

Related: Pandemic Crisis Sends Another 6.6 Million Americans Into Unemployment

“Certainly, there are clients in many industries that are still hurting badly, but companies and investors are realizing that now more than ever they will need to top-grade existing talent to develop and execute a turn-around strategy,” he said. “We feel very fortunate to be industry agnostic as we have some clients that are doing very well in this market, which is helping offset the more beaten down sectors.”

“Whereas current unemployment numbers are shocking, a strong stock market and rebounding oil prices signal a robust recovery,” said Bill Willis, president and CEO of Willis Consulting. “The COVID crisis and associated volatility will increase demand for sophisticated financial advice. Financial service firms of various categories will want their growth to pace that demand. As a result, we believe that demand and valuation for successful advisory practices will continue to accelerate.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has been painful and the economic fallout is devastating for many people and companies in the U.S. and around the world,” said Tim Tolan, CEO and managing partner of The Tolan Group. “While leaders concentrate their efforts today on crisis management, they can’t forget about tomorrow and the human capital needed to grow and scale. When this crisis subsides (and it will) the forward-thinking leaders and companies will be positioned to come out on top. If your organization has the dry powder to hire now – there may not be a better time to strike on bringing on new talent.”

Related: Surge in Unemployment Filings Continues

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Erik Boender, Senior Research Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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