Workplace Culture

Job openings lag as uncertainty about pandemic, politics persists

Meghan McCarty Carino Jan 12, 2021
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Amid persistent economic doldrums and widespread uncertainty, few companies entered 2021 with expansion in mind. Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images
Workplace Culture

Job openings lag as uncertainty about pandemic, politics persists

Meghan McCarty Carino Jan 12, 2021
Heard on:
Amid persistent economic doldrums and widespread uncertainty, few companies entered 2021 with expansion in mind. Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images
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New data on job openings and postings provide a glimpse of what to expect in the job market in the coming weeks and months.

This time of year typically sees a spike in hiring and job-search activity, said Jill Chapman with Insperity, a recruiting services firm.

“Sort of, ‘Fresh start, new year, let’s kick it off,’ ” she said.

But that kind of optimistic planning for the future isn’t really the vibe these days.

“I think that we’re still feeling, ‘Let’s just take a pause, let’s just look, let’s just wait,’ ” she said. “We’re all just collectively holding our breath.”

That sense of unease was reflected in lagging job postings at the end of the year on the job search site Indeed.

“Recovery is not happening as quickly as it had been earlier in 2020,” said Jed Kolko, chief economist with Indeed.

Job listings were down about 11% in December compared to a year earlier. The decline was concentrated in industries directly hit by the pandemic like tourism and restaurants, but it was also felt in sectors like tech and finance.

“That’s not because those sectors are doing worse in the pandemic,” Kolko said. “Those higher-wage sectors tend to make longer-term decisions.”

They’re looking at the economic picture months or even years into the future, he said.

And that picture is still pretty murky, said Andy Challenger, senior vice president at staffing firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

“The economy has been racked with unbelievable uncertainty, both because of the pandemic but also a large amount of political uncertainty.”

Fair to predict, that will likely be the case for some time to come.

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