After the massive number of layoffs during the COVID-19 pandemic, the country and jobs have begun opening back up. According to the Congressional Research Service, in April 2020, the unemployment rate in the United States reached a whopping 14.8%, which is the highest observed rate since data collection began in 1948. While the current unemployment rate in the United States is 5.8%, the impacts of the pandemic on the candidate marketplace remain far and wide.
According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in July 2021, there were 9 million unfilled jobs in the United States and 9.3 million unemployed Americans. So why are there so many positions open? Why are candidates unengaged and unmotivated to pursue these jobs?
There are six core reasons there is a lack of engaged candidates in
1. Unemployment benefits and government stimulus checks have been contributing factors. These benefits impact candidates’ desirability to go back to work. Most employers are adjusting their wage rates to attract candidates back into the job market. Because it costs more to do business, they are also having to raise the price of their goods and services. These factors are contributing to an inflationary period of time.
2. Many people have altered their way of life after stay-at-home orders and other challenges faced during the pandemic. Two million employed Americans have decided to retire since COVID-19 started because of a booming stock market and increased home values. Others took advantage of low interest rates to refinance their homes. Because they decreased their mortgage payments, they are now able to be more selective in the opportunities that they choose to pursue.
3. The gig economy has also been a contributing factor to the lack of engaged candidates in the marketplace. Many workers have moved to freelance or consulting positions, decided to work remotely during off-hours, or switched careers to something more flexible, such as driving for Uber versus going into an office or returning to a factory.
4. Childcare continues to be an essential factor. Many daycares and schools could not staff up adequately, and many schools nationwide were remote throughout the entire 2020-2021 school year, giving parents of children more reasons not to re-enter the workforce. Whether they had to teach their children at home, could not find childcare, or could not justify childcare expenses due to their hourly wage or salary, this remains another challenge for companies trying to attract talent.
5. Safety concerns were another significant factor in the number of available candidates, which remains the case today. Some people are not comfortable, unable, or choose not to get vaccinated, or they have a medical condition that may make them more susceptible to severe illness or simply do not feel at ease returning to an in-person work environment. Safety concerns and medical conditions need to be considered when trying to attract talent, especially if requiring them to work in an office or factory setting.
6. The way companies recruit has also changed significantly in the past year and a half, and many times to their detriment. Many companies push people towards applying online or via text applications, taking the human element out of the process. Doing so results in candidates getting lost in the shuffle and frustrated. Human interaction, especially during a labor shortage, is essential for companies and managers to influence and persuade candidates to join their organizations.
These factors will undoubtedly continue to impact the number of available and engaged candidates for the foreseeable future. Companies will need to remain proactive and agile in recruiting talent and setting themselves apart from the competition.