Even though we are in the midst of a borderline recessionary economy, our January 2023 jobs report shows job openings rose to 11 million in December according to the latest BLS JOLTS data. This is still 50% above pre-pandemic levels and has remained in record territory for many months now. Yet few of us feel like celebrating, because the job market situation is complicated.
The most recent spike in job openings is concentrated in retail and leisure and hospitality as shown in the graph below. These sectors experienced a significant jump in job openings in December while most of the other sectors were flat or declining. Retail openings can be attributed to the holiday shopping season. We may look at this and feel like the market is signaling an “all clear” to recessionary fears.
Job Postings up Modestly
However, when we look at job postings, the situation is still murky. Posting volume overall increased on a year-over-year basis in January for only the third time in the past twelve months. But it was a small increase at just over 2%.
Aged Postings Climb Slows to 147 days
The open days aging in postings has been in a free fall for many months now and the decline continued with open days increasing to 147 days or nearly five months. However, what is encouraging is that increase has slowed and the number of open postings increased nearly 4%.
Estimated filled postings appear to be finally clearing as the fill days increased dramatically from December to January rising from the mid fifties to 94 days. Could it be that employers are finally getting some success in filling jobs or simply clearing out unfilled postings? In any event, it feels strange to say that the situation appears to be less bad, but hardly cause for celebration.
Job Seekers Continue Exodus From Leisure and Retail
Job seekers exited the customer-facing industries in droves during the pandemic. By tracing changes to over 60 million resumes, we see that nearly 140 thousand workers have exited the leisure and hospitality and retail sectors over the past 12 months. Further, the number of workers exiting these sectors actually increased in January.
Healthcare Supply Remains the Real Challenge
The good news is there is plenty of supply. The inline green bar below indicates the supply of job seekers (measured by resumes) exceeding demand (measured by job postings). There are cumulatively 2.8 million more job seekers in leisure and hospitality than there are job postings. In January, job postings for these sectors increased. As jobs get filled in these sectors and workers continue to exit, we may find ourselves getting to parity of supply and demand. On the other hand, healthcare continues to be stressed with significantly more demand than there is supply. Cumulatively over the past twelve months, there have been 463,000 more job postings than job seekers in healthcare.
Employer Reputation Continues Slow Climb
Through our TalentView platform, we continue to see improvement in worker sentiment. We measure this by calculating a net promoter score based on the percentage of positive reviews over negative reviews. This metric had bottomed out last spring and summer and has slowly been making its way back to pre-pandemic levels of 23 based on its current value of 19.
Compensation is Still Top of Mind to Employees and Job Seekers
Finally, compensation remains top of mind when it comes to important subjects to workers. The number one subject based on opinion mining of reviews remains pay. This subject popped up to the top of the list in the last few months. What is interesting about the January reviews is that the positivity percent of this subject ticked down from December and has been ever so slightly going down. Employers again need to be proactive when it comes to pay levels.
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