A report from Employ Inc., published Sept. 6 highlights the strange nature of a talent market waiting at the edge of a potential recession.
Employ is the parent company of a swath of recruiting brands, including JazzHR, Lever and Jobvite, and its latest report is based on “analysis of hiring trends compiled from employer and job seeker activity across Employ’s 18,000 customers.” While recession is top of mind, recruiting isn’t slowing down, according to the report.
Positions are filling fast — 8% faster than pre-pandemic levels — but hiring is also fraught; 69% of recruiters said hiring will be hard for the remainder of the year, while more than half said they don’t believe there is enough talent to fill open positions. At the same time, the median number of applicants per job has increased steadily since November 2021, Employ said.
This “unprecedented talent landscape,” full of contradictions, may continue to confuse and frustrate talent leaders in the months to come, Employ said. Little relief may be in sight, the company added, which other data and experts have corroborated. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has consistently posted high job gains for most of 2022, and while the unemployment rate inched back up in August, it was because of people returning to the workforce, not recessionary forces, one expert said.
And yet, workers remain concerned about the state of the market. Just over two-fifths of workers surveyed by The Conference Board said they felt the U.S. was already in a recession. Another 33% said it would likely hit in the next six months. That’s because workers reported seeing recession-era tactics from their employers, including hiring freezes, organizational restructuring, deferred or eliminated bonuses and even layoffs, according to the Aug. 18 report.
But employers may be less likely to execute full and extensive layoffs, various sources have hinted, especially compared to 2008 — due in part to the continued contradictions present in the talent market. Employers that can afford to continue hiring seem to be willing to pay up to land candidates, offering sign-on bonuses and hiring workers at the higher end of salary bands. Rumors of “labor hoarding” — where companies find ways to hold on to talent rather than lay off workers in the pursuit of saving money in the long run — have also bubbled up.
That means HR will be in an interesting position should a recession be truly and finally declared since companies are likely to maintain course regarding talent investments, experts previously told HR Dive.