- Active job searches among U.S. adults declined in August compared to previous months, with nearly all of that trend stemming from respondents who already had jobs, according to the results of a monthly Indeed survey.
- The portion of unemployed respondents actively searching for a job was "more-or-less consistent" between June and August, but such respondents were also more likely to resume their job search once in-person schooling resumed, Indeed said.
- The company's analysis concluded that the return of schools in the fall "holds the possibility of a renewed upward trajectory" for job seeking, despite the uncertainty of the pandemic.
Indeed's data provide an interesting contrast with other recent assessments of the U.S. job market. For example, in September, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York's Center for Microeconomic Data found in a survey that workers were more likely to say they expected to receive at least one job offer in the next four months compared to July of last year. The average expected annual salary for job offers also rose from $54,646 to $57,207.
Regardless of employee intentions, most evidence suggests employers are in the midst of a talent shortage. ManpowerGroup's employment outlook for 2021's fourth quarter indicated the highest hiring outlook since its survey began in 1962, with hiring intentions jumping by 34% since Q4 2020.
The results of the Indeed survey may indicate a cool down for the "great resignation," a term used to describe the current reality of a talent market marred by attrition and scarcity. A number of factors have been highlighted as contributing to that trend, including employees' desire for more flexible work schedules and dissatisfaction over their employers' handling of the pandemic.
But even a year ago, caregiving obligations proved a barrier to workforce re-entry during the pandemic, particularly for women. A February survey of employed women by the Society for Human Resource Management found nearly one-third of respondents said they personally knew a woman who left a job during the pandemic due to caregiving responsibilities. Some of the respondents who were caregivers said they felt the pandemic stifled their professional development. When schools began to partially reopen in fall 2020, working parents in a Monster survey disagreed about the degree of support they received from employers to address concerns related to sending kids to school.
As the holiday hiring season looms, employers — even those heavily dependent on front-line workers — have raised starting salaries and introduced enhanced benefits packages to lure talent. Yet the pandemic remains a key variable in the talent equation. Employers have demonstrated a mixed reaction to the potential impact of a federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate, which could add to compliance and recruiting burdens despite the economic benefits increased vaccination may yield.
Meanwhile, employers may have to address internal problems smothering their ability to compete for talent. A recent survey by applicant tracking software firm Jobvite documented potential barriers in the application process for Fortune 500 companies, such as requiring job seekers to register on a company's career site before they are able to apply for a role. A joint Harvard Business School and Accenture report published earlier in September pinpointed instances in which large numbers of high-skilled and middle-skilled candidates were overlooked in hiring processes because they did not match hiring criteria.