With unemployment at a historic high, filling jobs shouldn’t be difficult. Yet employers say it’s hard to find qualified people to hire.

The National Federation of Independent Business says a third of its members report having jobs they couldn’t fill. In the organization’s June survey, 84% of business owners hiring or trying to hire workers reported finding “few or no qualified applicants.”

The Federation’s members are small business owners who, in good economic times, typically have more difficulty filling jobs than large organizations that offer better pay, benefits and opportunities for advancement. Yet, more owners have at least one unfilled job today than they did at the height of the Great Recession a decade ago.

What accounts for this difficulty?

Multiple factors, according to Gad Levanon, VP of labor markets for The Conference Board. Writing in Forbes recently, he says the largest share of workers expect to return to their job once their business reopens.

Many others who might otherwise be job-hunting aren’t because of a generous COVID-19 unemployment supplement. Some hesitate because they fear becoming infected. Still others have no childcare with schools and summer camps closed.

“In sum,” he writes, “While the number of unemployed workers is historically high, the number of unemployed people who are seriously trying to find jobs is much smaller. Jobseekers are competing against a much smaller number of people for new spots than the unemployment rate suggests, making it easier to get a job.”

Of the17.8 million Americans counted as unemployed, 10.6 million say they are only temporarily laid off and expect to be called back to work once their business reopens.

Many of the other 7 million-plus aren’t actively looking, at least until the special $600 unemployment supplement expires at the end of the month.

“Two-thirds of [unemployment insurance] eligible workers can receive benefits which exceed lost earnings and one-fifth can receive benefits at least double lost earnings,” the National Bureau of Economic Research estimated in an analysis released in May.

Levanon expects the job picture to change significantly in the coming months.

With COVID-19 cases surging, states are reconsidering decisions allowing businesses to reopen. For some workers, that will mean their temporary layoff will become permanent, he says. Others will be motivated to start looking once their unemployment benefits are reduced.

Says Levanon, “The unemployment rate overestimates the slack in the US labor market. But not for long.”

If you’re having trouble finding just the right person for your opening, give us a call at 212.683.1988. You’ll talk with a recruiter who specializes in your industry and knows where the best people are.

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash


How to Keep Your Team Motivated

In a time when the job market is rapidly changing, layoffs are occurring in waves, and times are still a bit uncertain, it’s normal that your staff might need a little extra motivation in the workplace. If you’re an employer or manager, and feel like your staff is working on autopilot, there are ways to keep your team motivated with a clear head and productive environment.

Incentive programs

Reconfiguring bonuses and raises can help keep your team focused on their goals and work quality. For instance, if your organization generally gives bonuses around the holidays, consider splitting up the bonuses into a quarterly earning. Knowing an extra paycheck is coming every few month is an incentive to your employees. This can also be considered with commission structures.

Early communication

Always try to communicate early with your team if you know of any changes or slowdowns in the company or market. Keep an open line with between staff and manager. Employees respond more positively when they know their superiors are remaining empathetic and keeping their best interest at heart.

Growth opportunities

Your team members want to know advancement is in their future. Always be sure that you’re checking in on their performances every quarter in order to remind them of their growth opportunities. Knowing that a promotion or higher position is on the horizon will keep them motivated in the workplace. If possible, it is also ideal to offer employees assistance in obtaining a new degree or licensure to climb in their career.

Accepting failure

Try to support your employees when they have fresh, new ideas, even if you’re not quite sure how they will play out. They want to know their managers are not only listening, but taking them seriously as well. Indeed says, “If you criticize or publicly blast your employees’ failures, they’re going to lose the motivation to try something new. Accept that taking risks comes with some failure. Use it as an opportunity to learn and improve next time, so employees feel comfortable taking risks in the future.”