Job Market Update: October — November 2023.
January 19th, 2024
SUMMARY / KEY TAKEAWAYS
- The job market is the constant process of change, due to major shifts in the world economy and technological progression.
- In this collection of recent, relevant news, we look at different new trends in jobs that show how companies, workers, and the economy all connect.
Introduction: News & Trends in the Job Market.
The job market is the constant process of change, due to major shifts in the world economy and technological progression. In this collection of recent, relevant news, we look at different new trends in jobs that show how companies, workers, and the economy all connect.
1. Former Google Executive Pinpoints the Vital Flaw Most Leaders Overlook in their Bid for Candidness with Employees.
Leaders can take a cue from former Apple and Google executive Kim Scott’s concept of “radical candor,” which emphasizes the importance of showing care while also providing direct and challenging feedback.
This approach, though seemingly straightforward, is considered radical due to the difficulty of balancing both aspects simultaneously. Many leaders shy away from this due to the apprehension of providing honest feedback.
Scott highlights three common types of ineffective feedback: obnoxious aggression, which lacks sincerity and kindness; ruinous empathy, where feelings are prioritized over necessary information; and manipulative insincerity, which involves passive aggression or backstabbing, and is the least effective form of feedback.
Scott emphasizes the need for a balanced relationship between managers and employees, emphasizing that a power imbalance can be detrimental to this dynamic. She encourages leaders to actively seek feedback, creating an environment where open and honest communication is not only welcomed but rewarded.
In the current landscape, leaders might be hesitant to provide firmer feedback, fearing it might upset their employees. However, Scott stresses that this should not be an excuse for poor communication. She notes that leaders must find a middle ground between being compassionate yet candid.
Scott advises leaders to challenge directly, even if it pushes them slightly out of their comfort zone. Despite the concerns about potential backlash, it’s crucial to communicate effectively and ensure employees receive information that would ultimately benefit them.
2. Workplace Absenteeism Peaks: Highest Sick Day Levels in 10 Years.
Recent research from the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development (CIPD) reveals a significant surge in sick days among UK workers, averaging at 7.8 days in the past year, up from 5.8 pre-pandemic. The CIPD attributes this increase to stress, the lingering effects of Covid-19, and the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.
The study, analyzing over 900 organizations representing 6.5 million employees, discovered that minor illnesses were the primary cause of short-term absences, followed by musculoskeletal injuries and mental health concerns. Covid-19 remained a significant contributor to sick leave, as reported by over a third of organizations.
For those on extended sick leave, mental health issues, musculoskeletal injuries, and severe conditions like cancer and stroke were the predominant reasons. The changing work landscape post-pandemic, coupled with economic pressures, has left many employees feeling disengaged and stressed.
Working from home, while beneficial in many ways, posed challenges for individuals living alone or experiencing limited social contact. Notably, public sector sick days were nearly double those in the private sector, a phenomenon attributed to larger organizations and the prevalence of front-line roles.
While most organizations offered sick pay, and about half had wellbeing strategies in place, the CIPD stressed the need for employers to take more proactive measures. Dr. Audrey Tang, a psychologist and broadcaster, emphasized the importance of understanding workers’ needs and advocated for meaningful, long-term solutions over quick fixes like lunchtime yoga or ice cream treats.
3. Workforce Uprising: Mack Trucks Employees Strike in Contract Dispute.
Workers at Mack Trucks have initiated a strike after rejecting a proposed contract with the United Auto Workers union. Approximately 4,000 UAW members across three states are participating in the strike. The UAW stated that 73% of its members voted against the contract, citing concerns about wage increases, cost of living allowances, job security, and pensions.
Mack Trucks, owned by Volvo, emphasized that the rejected deal included a 10% wage increase in the first year and a compounded 20% increase over the five-year agreement, with a commitment to no hikes in health insurance premiums. This strike is distinct from the UAW’s ongoing dispute with major automotive companies in Detroit.
However, while the rejected agreement may be a record, it falls short of the terms discussed between the UAW and the Big Three automakers (Ford, GM, and Stellantis), who have proposed around 20% pay increases.
Mack Trucks defended their proposal, stating that the UAW had labeled it “a record contract for the heavy truck industry.” Mack Trucks’ President, Stephen Roy, noted the industry differences, stating that the trucking sector operates in a distinct market, business, and competitive environment compared to passenger car manufacturers.
4. Tech Innovation Thrives: 31 Regional Hubs Picked to Drive U.S. Growth.
The Biden administration has identified 31 U.S. regional technology hubs out of 370 applicants, making these areas eligible for $500 million in federal funding to drive innovation across various sectors.
This is part of President Biden’s industrial policy, which aims to utilize federal funds to support growth sectors like electric vehicle battery production, semiconductors, and clean energy, with the goal of attracting more private sector investments.
The initiative seeks to distribute the benefits of tech sector growth beyond traditional hubs like Silicon Valley, aiming to tap into the full potential of the country and encourage innovation in various cities, including Baltimore and Birmingham. These hubs will focus on critical areas like biotechnology, artificial intelligence, and quantum computing.
These hubs span a wide range of industries, with one in Washington state and Idaho focusing on developing advanced materials for fuel-efficient aircraft, while another in Oklahoma is working on commercializing autonomous systems for tasks like agriculture and pipeline inspections.
However, it’s important to note that the hub designations do not guarantee federal funding. The administration plans to award approximately five to ten of the 31 tech hubs with up to $75 million each next year, pending approval.
This program was approved by Congress in August 2022 as part of the “Chips and Science” law, which allocates $52 billion for U.S. semiconductor production and research to enhance competitiveness with China.
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5. Navigating the Post-‘Great Resignation’ Era.
In 2021, a notable trend emerged in the U.S. labor market, with over 50 million Americans participating in what was termed ‘the Great Resignation’, as individuals left their jobs in search of better pay or improved career prospects. This movement, which peaked between November 2021 and April 2022 with an average of almost 4.5 million resignations per month, has gradually lost momentum in 2023.
The latest data from the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) reveals that in August, 3.64 million Americans quit their jobs, marking the second-lowest figure since February 2021. July saw an even lower number, with 3.62 million resignations, representing the lowest count in the past two and a half years.
The resignations are now nearing pre-pandemic levels, a period when the labor market had already shifted in favor of workers due to a surplus of job openings compared to unemployed individuals in much of 2018 and 2019. Although this balance persists, the labor market seems to be gradually cooling off, despite the Federal Reserve’s vigorous efforts to curb inflation.
Concerns about an impending recession have also influenced more workers to opt for job security rather than risking unemployment during uncertain economic times. Traditionally, the number of resignations tends to decrease significantly during recessions, as finding new employment in a downturn can be extremely challenging.
6. Exploring Firings, Hirings, and Quits in California’s Job Market.
The “HQF” index, a metric devised to assess workforce dynamics in California, indicates a slight cooling of the state’s job market in 2023. The index, which compares hiring against quits and firings, stood at 112 in the first seven months of the year, signifying 112 hires for every 100 resignations and terminations.
While this suggests a moderate deceleration, it is notably better than the 2009 figure of 101 during the Great Recession, albeit lower than the robust 124 recorded in 2021’s recovery from pandemic-related restrictions. In 2023, hiring has eased, with 4.1 million new additions, a 10% drop from the previous year.
Simultaneously, quits have slowed, with 2.4 million voluntary departures, down 22% from the prior year but still 2% higher than the 2018-19 average. Conversely, firings have risen, with 1.1 million Californians let go involuntarily, reflecting a 5% increase year-on-year and a 15% surge from the pre-pandemic 2018-19 levels.
This shift in workplace dynamics may signify more than just transitional adjustments between employers and employees post-pandemic. The decreased job opportunities, characterized by reduced hiring and increased terminations, may be prompting individuals to reconsider quitting.
Despite this, it hasn’t deterred a notable number from leaving their jobs. Traditional labor market indicators also illustrate an evolving boss-worker relationship. While there’s a record number of employed Californians, the pace of staffing suggests some apprehension among employers.
The 2.4% rise in total state workers this year is robust historically, but it lags behind the 6.9% job creation seen in 2022. Intriguingly, this year’s growth surpasses the 1.8% job increase observed in 2018-19, considered a more stable period.
Examining unemployment, the average of 900,000 officially jobless Californians per month in 2023 represents a 7% increase from the prior year and a 9% elevation from 2018-19. This indicates a potential decline in job security. In many respects, this year’s moderation in the workplace aligns with the Federal Reserve’s efforts to address an overheated U.S. economy.
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7. The STEM Surge Driven by Lucrative Career Paths.
When it comes to earning potential, the choice of college major plays a significant role, with engineering and STEM-related fields continuing to lead in the highest-paying bachelor’s degrees.
Petroleum engineering currently stands as the highest-paying major, with graduates earning nearly six figures at the start and surpassing $200,000 with a decade of experience. Following closely are operations research and industrial engineering, along with fields like interaction design, applied economics, management, and building science.
The demand for technology jobs remains robust, particularly for roles like software engineers and project managers, partly driven by the rise of AI. Additionally, computer science, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and economics degrees continue to be among the highest-earning disciplines.
In recent years, there has been a surge in STEM graduates from U.S. colleges and universities at all degree levels, aligning with the growing demand for STEM jobs, which is projected to outpace non-STEM roles in the coming years.
However, it’s worth noting that some STEM-related fields no longer strictly require a degree. Many tech companies and others are dropping degree requirements for middle and even higher-skill positions, with alternative options like boot camps, specialized programs, and online certifications gaining prominence.
Nevertheless, overall, the job market is increasingly valuing higher education, particularly in rapidly growing industries such as computer and data processing.
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8. Mastering On-the-Job AI Training: Your Essential Guide to Boosting Workplace Skills.
The importance of on-the-job training for generative AI skills is emphasized by experts who assert that not only is AI integration inevitable, but it’s crucial for individuals to proactively embrace it.
ELB Learning’s Chief AI Officer, John Blackmon, highlights the distinction between proficiency and expertise, noting that while programmers and engineers delve into the technical aspects, the general workforce should focus on effectively prompting AI platforms for desired outcomes.
With a significant percentage of HR managers planning upskilling initiatives to address the AI-induced skills gap, experts advise adopting a gradual approach to training, emphasizing the need for clear goals and involving internal working groups to inform responsible use cases.
Additionally, considerations for data security, policy development, and avoiding automation bias are critical elements of a comprehensive AI training strategy. As AI is predicted to become the “front door to your business,” the necessity of empowering employees to navigate this evolving landscape is underscored.
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9. Decoding the Controversy of Fire-and-Rehire.
The controversial practice of “fire-and-rehire” has gained attention during the pandemic, with several major companies attempting to alter employment terms, prompting calls for stronger employment rights. This strategy involves dismissing workers and then rehiring them immediately with revised conditions, often used by companies facing financial challenges.
Trade unions accuse Carnival UK, which operates P&O Cruises and Cunard, of considering such tactics, reminiscent of the P&O Ferries case. The pandemic intensified disputes related to “fire-and-rehire,” impacting companies like British Airways, British Gas, and others.
A survey by the Trades Union Congress found that 9% of workers were asked to reapply for jobs with worse terms since March 2020, indicating a perceived rise in the practice. The impact on long-service rights is a concern, but experts suggest that, in most cases, it should not reset the years of service for long-serving employees subjected to such practices.
While not illegal, it faces legal challenges if not executed properly, and calls for its prohibition by political parties have been made, though the government currently does not plan to make it illegal.
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10. The Surprising Harmony in Slowing Hiring Trends.
October’s weaker-than-expected job growth and a slight increase in unemployment, signaling a cooling job market, are seen as positive indicators for the Federal Reserve’s efforts to control inflation through interest rate hikes.
The FED’s strategy seems to be working, and the recent jobs report might align with its goal of more tempered economic data. Some analysts suggest that the rate-hiking cycle may have come to an end, potentially alleviating concerns that the Fed’s aggressive approach could push the economy into recession.
Economists highlight the resilience of the labor market, with 34 consecutive months of job growth and a jobless rate below 4% for the past two years. Despite challenges faced by households in meeting basic expenses, workers’ wages are growing faster than inflation, providing a positive outlook for consumer spending.
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11. How Italian Worker Protests are Transforming the Transportation Landscape.
A nationwide strike by transport workers and public sector employees in Italy, protesting the government’s 2024 budget plans, led to travel disruptions. However, the impact of the strike was reduced after Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini shortened its duration from nine to four hours, citing the need to ensure normalcy for Italians.
While air travel was not part of the strike, commuters faced challenges, with early morning train tickets selling out quickly, some at higher prices. The strike, called by the CGIL and UIL unions, included a general strike in central regions and a broader walkout by public sector workers across the country.
Salvini’s intervention was criticized by union leaders as an unprecedented attack on the right to strike, while Salvini emphasized his responsibility to allow Italians to carry on with their daily activities.
The unions, protesting against Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s right-wing government, demanded better job security, increased wages, and fiscal reforms to address rising prices, blaming the government for prioritizing electoral considerations over the well-being of workers and pensioners.
12. Insights into a 30% Drop in Holiday Job Opportunities, According to Indeed.
Seasonal holiday job postings in Canada have seen a 30% decline from the previous year, reflecting an overall cooling in employer hiring appetite amid economic softening and a cooling labor market.
According to a report by Indeed, the decline in holiday job openings is attributed to industry-specific trends such as e-commerce and remote work. While holiday postings remained at a level similar to pre-pandemic times, they now represent a smaller share of overall postings compared to 2019.
The slowdown in the macroeconomic environment and shifts in industry dynamics, including increased remote work, have contributed to this trend. Retail-related roles, particularly sales associates and customer service representatives, dominate seasonal job postings.
Despite the decrease in postings, job seekers’ searches for holiday work have increased, potentially making it easier for employers to find seasonal workers. The report notes that this elevated rate of seasonal searches might indicate a lack of confidence among job seekers in finding work elsewhere, particularly in a subdued economic outlook.
The Canadian labor market has been affected by higher interest rates and rising unemployment, reaching 5.7% in October. Although the Bank of Canada held its key rate at five percent in October, it has not ruled out further hikes based on inflation data, emphasizing a cautious approach to assess the impact of monetary policy on price stability.
13. Unveiling the Forces That Will Revitalize the Job Market in 2024.
The cooling inflation, a potential halt to further interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve, and an optimistic economic and stock market outlook for 2023 into 2024 may bring positive implications for job seekers. A positive economic and stock market forecast often translates to increased business confidence and investment, potentially leading to the expansion of the job market.
Improved economic conditions may encourage employers to hire and invest in talent. Growth in the economy and the stock market can create opportunities for job seekers as companies seek to expand their workforce to meet growing demand and capitalize on market opportunities.
A robust economy and job market can contribute to increased wage growth and improved benefits for employees. In a competitive talent market during economic growth, companies are likely to offer more attractive compensation packages to attract and retain skilled workers.
The positive shift in the economic outlook is attributed to the decrease in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and the significant boost to the stock and bond markets. If inflation remains stable or decreases, the Federal Reserve’s ability to keep interest rates unchanged is viewed positively by the market.
Major investment banks like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley forecast an improved U.S. economy into 2024, contributing to a positive sentiment in both the stock market and the job market.
14. Your Health, Your Wealth: The Unmissable Importance of Open Enrollment for the Self-Employed.
Open enrollment season, crucial for the self-employed seeking individual or family health coverage, comes with high stakes, typically representing the only chance for such coverage for the upcoming year.
Freelancers, consultants, and independent contractors can navigate through the government healthcare website below to explore and enroll in health coverage, either federally or state-based, depending on their residence. Individuals already enrolled in a marketplace plan can make changes by Dec. 15 to ensure their coverage aligns with their current needs.
Health insurance costs for the self-employed vary, with an average monthly premium before tax subsidies at $604.78, according to February 2023 data. After tax subsidies, the average total premium paid by consumers per month was $123.69. The self-employed may be eligible for cost-sharing reductions, impacting deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance.
The decision between different plans, including high-deductible options, depends on factors like health needs, affordability, network coverage, and the ability to cover high-cost medical events.
While the process may seem daunting, there are resources available, such as assisters certified by marketplaces, agents, or brokers. The advice is not to delay in reviewing coverage options and to consider dental and vision insurance as well during this open enrollment period.
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Please cite as:
Ontology of Value (January 19th, 2024). Job Market Update: October — November 2023. Retrieved from: https://ontologyofvalue.com/ontologyofvalue.com/job-market-update-october-november-2023/
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