Job seeker confidence fell across the board for the second quarter of 2023, dropping 3.8 points from 97.8 to 94 on ZipRecruiter’s Job Seeker Confidence Index, according to a new report.
Job seekers appeared to become more pessimistic about several aspects of the job search, including current labor market conditions, the medium-term economic outlook, their personal finances and their preparedness for the labor market.
“In certain industries and regions, demand for labor has cooled and supply has improved,” Julia Pollak, chief economist for ZipRecruiter, said in a statement.
“Affected job seekers perceive greater competition for a smaller set of roles and feel increasingly anxious about their prospects,” she said.
In the survey of 2,000 U.S. job seekers who plan to find a new job in the next six months, appraisals about current job market conditions declined 4.7% from the first quarter. Optimism about the medium-term labor market was also down 3.9%.
Trends varied across the country. Job seeker confidence saw an uptick in the South, but all other regions had a decline. The regional differences reflect the economic dynamics around the U.S., according to the report, where unemployment rates have reached historic lows in 10 states but appear to be rising in others.
Job seeker confidence also varied by racial, income and age demographics. Optimism was consistent among Black job seekers but declined among White job seekers. Looking ahead to the busy summer hiring season, younger job seekers between ages 18-24 were more confident, while older job seekers were more pessimistic, especially those 65 and over. In addition, confidence continued to decline the most among job seekers with the highest incomes and education levels.
ZipRecruiter pointed to three main reasons for the drop in job seeker optimism:
- More financial strain: About 61% of job seekers said they feel financial pressure to take the first job offer they receive, which is up from 50% a year ago. About 75% of those between ages 18-24 feel that way, reaching the highest level in 18 months.
- More difficulty finding jobs: Although 66% of job seekers said they feel confident that jobs are plentiful, this has fallen sharply from 75% over the past year. In addition, 47% of job seekers said it’s harder to find a job, which is up from 34% in early 2021.
- More concerns about the future: About a third of job seekers believe there will be fewer jobs available in six months. Job seekers are also more likely to expect fewer jobs than more jobs later this year, and that gap has widened in the past quarter.
For employers, the trends suggest paying attention to recruitment and retention initiatives that could affect job seekers. Importantly, job satisfaction appears to be the highest among job switchers, according to a recent report, especially related to favorable mental health policies, bonus plans, training programs and promotion policies.
Training and upskilling could be particularly appealing in the current labor market, according to a recent survey. Although the hiring outlook remains optimistic for this quarter, employers are still struggling to find the right people. Reskilling current employees could boost job satisfaction while also addressing some hiring concerns.