Jobs Reports: Is the sky falling or is the outlook improving?
I wanted to share my perspective on the slate of jobs reports that come out every month – whether from the federal government or state government or employment experts.
- Let me start by saying that using data to reflect on the economy and labor market is obviously a good thing. There are always limitations to any of these analyses, whether it is that unemployment rates understate the number of folks who are out of work, but who have stopped looking – or that numbers based on employers who use online postings of jobs understate jobs since so many employers post jobs in more traditional ways.
- Take these reports with a grain of sale. These reports have to be taken in context. Realize that month-to-month fluctuations are less important than trends looking at job growth year-over-year. In New York City, for example, the Monster.com Employment Index shows a 6% improvement from May 2011 to May 2012. Improvement is good. However, it is less than many other cities. My take is that growth is good and it is important to see where that growth is coming from and where the declines are. It turns out that growth is in legal services, transportation and warehousing, engineering, healthcare, and personal care. Decline year-over-year in online jobs ads is in public administration, arts and entertainment, and education.
- The trends do not change 180 degrees every month. In fact in NYC, the growth industries have been pretty constant over the past few years (professional services, finance/insurance, healthcare, transportation). If you are seeking jobs in these areas and have the requisite skills or experience, keep at it. If you don’t have the skills but there is a cost effective way to get introduced or trained, go for it.
- Whether at the entry-level, mid-level or high-level, there are literally tens of thousands of jobs in each of these categories in NYC, on any day of the week. As we have said in other blog posts, consider switching industries or entering areas that are outside your comfort zone. Retail supervisors, restaurant managers, office managers are all in very high demand and look for folks who can operate in high volume environments with strong customer service skills. In any of these areas, you can have small localized operations or large, very corporate operations, and the level of sophistication of candidate requirements will be varied, as will compensation.
- My final point is that with approximately 3 unemployed people for every job, you have competition and you will have to play out the numbers – plan to apply to 50 jobs online and expect to get 1 or 2 hits. It might feel so thankless to send out tons of resumes and get no response, but with the right targeting and cover letter, your experience will be attractive to certain employers.
Angie Kamath, who oversees Workforce1 as the Deputy Commissioner of Workforce Development at the NYC Department of Small Business Services, shares her perspective on Workforce1 and the New York City job market in her weekly Jobs in New York City column.
Have a response to Angie’s column? Drop her a note in the comment section below! And, if you found this helpful, please share it with friends and family on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and email!