The Bureau of Labor Statistics released its Job Openings and Labor Turnover Statistics this month. The national statistics reflect what local employers feel. There are more job openings than people to fill them. Job openings increased by nearly a million (+998,000) to 9.3 million from March to April. The number of people hired remained unchanged at 6.1 million. The gap increased.
There are half as many people available (1.4) for every open position as there have been in the past twenty years (2.8). The largest number of increased job openings at the end of April was in food services (+349,000), other services (+115,000), and durable goods manufacturing (+78, 000).
As desperate as these figures look and employers feel, we are still seeing a positive net employment change over the past twelve months. Hires totaled 75.4 million, and separations totaled 64 million. This does not mean 11.3 million more people are employed because the same person is counted for each hire and separation.
In April, private industries filled 6.2 million positions. Leisure and hospitality (1.67 million) lead the pack; of that number, nearly 1.4 million positions were in accommodation and food services. Two other industries, Trade, transportation, and utilities & Professional and business services, each filled 1.16 million positions.
Employment separations include voluntary, involuntary, and other (retirement, disability, and death) terminations. Voluntary separations (quitting) are initiated by the employee. In April, nearly 4 million people quit their jobs of the total 5.8 million separations. Two in five workers are actively looking for another job, according to SHRM’s 2021 American Workforce Roadmap Survey.
It’s an employees’ market. People are likely to leave their current job for better compensation and benefits, a better work/life balance, and recognition. Flight risks include new hires, workers who are burned out, have school-aged children, and are at a low wage. It’s easiest to hop jobs at the lower end of the wage scale and within one’s first 30 days of employment.
Use both hands to support new employees. Be realistic about job expectations, the work environment, culture, and training when recruiting. Make those first months count with a meaningful onboarding program, a structured training process, and a visible ladder to climb. Keep communication open and consequential.
Conduct Stay Interviews! Have supervisors talk one-on-one with their employees to determine their level of satisfaction and empower the supervisors to improve upon it. The top three reasons employees stay according to Achievers Workforce Institute’s February 2021 Engagement and Retention Report are work/life balance, recognition for their work, and compensation and corporate benefits, in that order.
The U.S. Chamber’s America Works Agenda is working on legislative and regulatory changes. It is asking to double the cap on employment-based visas, increase federal investment in employer-led job training, and expand access to childcare. Private businesses might take advantage of the Chambers’ insight into job training and childcare to reduce their potential candidates’ and employees’ barriers. Reach out to your Chamber, Economic Development Corporation, and Workforce Development Services to access services.