The New York Times reported this week on the latest U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report on unemployment, and the news is good. After a decade of economic turmoil, soaring unemployment, and sagging home values, the economy appears to be on the mend. After reaching an all time high in 2010 at 10%, unemployment is now near the rates we were experiencing pre-recession at about 4.5%.
But, as the Times reports, this presents new problems. A flatlined labor force could create a labor shortage, which limits business and economic growth.
“Jason Furman, the chief economic adviser during the Obama administration, said: ‘The momentum in the job market is really impressive. I’m frankly surprised that this late into an expansion the economy is still adding jobs well above the steady-state pace.’ Wage gains were modest, even though employers keep complaining about the shortage of workers. ‘I think there’s room for faster wage growth, but I don’t know how long we’ll be able to sustain this job growth before we start hitting bigger constraints,’ Mr. Furman added.”
One possible culprit for the lack of labor availability is the fact that baby boomers are starting to retire. Millennials are increasingly making up a major portion of the job pool, and some millennials are reluctant to be hired. The idea of working from home or becoming a solopreneur is quite enticing to this generation, and this makes it harder for traditional businesses to hire them for a 9 to 5 position.
‘“It’s not an employer’s market,” said Patrick Bass, chief executive of Thyssenkrupp North America, which makes elevators, steel and other industrial products.
Based in Germany, Thyssenkrupp employs more than 15,000 people in the United States, but “the labor market is very competitive at all levels,” Mr. Bass said. “We have more positions open than we’ve been able to fill.”’
Job seekers should take this as a positive change, though it might feel differently when they are looking for work and can’t find it. Job seekers who have this problem should consider a more aggressive approach, such as overhauling their resume, attending hiring events, networking, and improving their social media profiles on LinkedIn and even Facebook. The jobs are out there, it’s just a matter of finding the right connections.