BLS Analysis for Recruiters January 2021

Bob Marshall’s January 2021 BLS Analysis for Recruiters; 2/5/21

January BLS Preface

TBMG Coaching Updates and Product News:

Top Echelon Expert Recruiter Coaching Series, Tuesday, April 13th, 2021

On April 13th at 1pm eastern, I will conduct a FREE webinar in the Top Echelon Expert Recruiter Coaching Series entitled, “The BLS Analysis for Recruiters – A Deeper Dive”

As many of you know, I have been publishing monthly what I call the “BLS Analysis for Recruiters” for over 11 years now.  And many of you use the information contained in these reports in your presentations to clients and candidates and I encourage that.  That is one of the reasons I spend the time I do to assemble this information. 

I write these analyses for the benefit of our recruitment industry in general and for the members of my distribution list in particular, so use this info as you deem appropriate.

I also write these monthly BLS analyses to not only counterbalance the negative/incorrect press reporting of our general economic state but, more than that, to remind all of my recruitment readers that, at the level we work, there is no unemployment and so we must recruit to find the candidates our client companies so desperately need!

Our new TBMG products:

“The PDF Series – individual email format – $24 each

1. “From Failure to Success in Recruitment Sales” – 6-part series – released from Jan. 8, 2019 to Feb. 12, 2019;

2. “John Wooden’s Success Pyramid” – 6-part series – released from Feb. 19, 2019 to Mar. 26, 2019;

3. “Robocruiter and The Total Account Executive” – 11-part series – released from Apr. 23, 2019 to Jul. 9, 2019;

4. “The Opportunity Cost in Not Quitting the Dead Horse Projects” – 11-part series – released from Jul. 16, 2019 to Sep. 24, 2019;

5. “The JOB ORDER” – 6-part series – released from Oct. 1, 2019 to Nov. 5, 2019;

6. “Planning for Your Best Year Ever in 2020 – The ‘Atomic’ Approach” – 7-part series – released from Nov. 13, 2019 to Dec. 31, 2019;

7. “The Importance of Marketing – Facing the Monster” – 13-part series – released from Jan. 28, 2020 to Apr. 21, 2020;

8. “Negotiating Techniques Adapted for the Tenured Recruiter” – 13-part series – released from Apr. 29, 2020 to Jul. 21, 2020.

You can choose any, or all, of the above.


In the opinion of ex-Dallas Cowboys football coach Tom Landry who coached from 1960-1988, “A coach is someone who tells you what you don’t want to hear, who has you see what you don’t want to see, so you can be who you have always known you could be.”

Is now the time to pick a Coach?

I realize that taking that first step to engage a Coach to help you reach a higher level of production is not as easy as it sounds.  After all, your training investment – and your time – are important and deserve every consideration.  I share your feelings.  I believe that how you approach your recruitment career matters…that you should get what you pay for, and then some…that you should enjoy your time with your Coach as you are benefiting from it…and that you should never settle for the ordinary.

So, for those of you who have been toying with the idea of working with a recruitment coach, now may be the time.  Only you can come to that decision point.

“Teachers open the door; but you must enter by yourself”—Chinese Proverb

When considering ‘individual change management’, consider this theosophical proverb: When the student is ready, the teacher will appear!”

“Bob Marshall is a speaker’s speaker and a trainer’s trainer.  He has a gift for taking the cornerstones of the business and compelling people and teams to not only hone their skills but to execute. We’ve had Bob engage our teams a number of times over the last few years and our groups always come away more focused on the core and more energized to perform. Come ready to learn because this man knows the business and will make you better!”

—David Alexander, President, Soliant, January 2017


Many of you continue to correspond with me about these monthly BLS analyses and have asked if it is OK to use them in your presentations.  The answer is, of course, yes!  That is why I spend the time to assemble this information.  I would encourage any of you who have that desire to weave any of the information I have printed below into your presentations.  I write these analyses for the benefit of our recruitment industry in general and for the members of my distribution list in particular.  So, use this info as you deem appropriate.

I also write these monthly BLS analyses to not only counterbalance the negative/incorrect press reporting of our general economic state but, more than that, to remind all of my recruitment readers that, at the level we work, there is no unemployment and so we must recruit to find the candidates our client companies so desperately need!

So, to my recruiter colleagues, get out there and do what your name implies…RECRUIT!  When your client companies have unique and difficult positions to fill, they need you.  When they are being picky, they need you.  When they are longing for more production from fewer employees, they need you.  Go fill those needs.  These should be the halcyon days in the recruitment arena!

Finally, always remember that we are not in an HR business, but in a ‘circumventing the time factor in the hiring sequence’ business—and adding value to our client companies.

Employers Upbeat on Hiring: Monster

Daily News, January 29, 2021

Despite the impact of Covid-19, employers are positive when it comes to hiring, according to the Future of Work survey conducted by Monster.

It found that 82% of employers surveyed in 8 countries plan to hire in 2021.

It found 47% plan to replace or backfill open positions and 35% expect to expand their workforce by hiring for new jobs.  Those numbers shift to 42% and 40%, respectively in the US.

“We’re fully aware of the challenges the talent acquisition industry faces, including the broadening skills gap, the pandemic’s impact on our mental health, and the need for more diverse workplaces,” Monster CEO Scott Gutz said.  “Yet, despite these hurdles, Monster recognizes that the state of recruiting is strong.”

Among other findings in the report:

  • Although 93% of employers are confident in finding the right candidates, 40% of respondents expect to continue facing the skills gap, with one third of employers agreeing the skills gap has increased compared to 1 year ago.
  • Tech-industry recruitment leads with 49% of respondents planning to hire net new jobs, whereas healthcare and finance/banking are expected to replace jobs lost due to the pandemic (59% and 53%, respectively).   Meanwhile, 32% of leisure/hospitality recruiters are expecting continued hiring freezes.
  • 70% of US recruiters are using virtual technology for at least half of their candidate interviewing and new-hire onboarding, while 26% of global respondents still struggle to master virtual recruiting.

Monster’s survey included 3,100 recruiters and others involved in talent acquisition, HR or the recruitment industry.  It covered 8 countries, including the US, Canada, UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy and Sweden.

Nearly Half of Decision-Makers in US Plan to Increase Hiring in Coming Months

Daily News, January 28, 2021

Survey results of US hiring decision-makers found that 46% plan to increase hiring in the next few months.  The poll results were released Wednesday by Express Employment Professionals.

“Clients are back to placing large orders for employees and now we have to figure out how to entice applicants because many are still hesitant to join or rejoin the workforce,” said Lori Gajdzik, Express branch manager in Crystal Lake, Illinois.

It also found that 43% of hiring decision-makers foresee no change and only 7% believe there will be layoffs in the upcoming months.

Express’ survey found that larger companies were more likely to hire than smaller firms.  Here’s the breakdown of firms who said they plan to increase hiring by company size:

  • Companies with two to nine employees: 21%
  • Companies with 10 to 49 employees: 40%
  • Companies with 50 to 99 employees: 59%
  • Companies with 100 to 499 employees: 57%
  • Companies with more than 500 employees: 57%

“The good news of increased hiring is much welcomed after a tough year, and if circumstances continue to improve, I anticipate more businesses will be ready to bring on additional employees in the coming months,” Express CEO Bill Stoller said.  “Getting people back to work, safely, should be the number one priority in rebuilding the economy in 2021.”

Express’ survey was conducted by The Harris Poll and included 1,002 US hiring decision-makers.  It took place between Nov. 16 and Dec. 7, 2020.

NABE More Upbeat on Business Hiring

Daily News, January 25, 2021

The employment situation is looking up, according to National Association for Business Economics’ quarterly “Business Conditions Survey” of its members, released today.

It found 30% of respondents plan to increase employment at their firm, compared to just 16% in the last version of the Business Conditions Survey released in October.  Also, the survey released today found just 10% of respondents plan to decrease employment compared to 15% in the October survey.

Employment also rose more than expected over the past 3 months, according to the survey released today.

Only 13% reported a decrease in hiring activity during the last 3 months; that compares to 27% in the October report.  In terms of hiring in the last 3 months, 19% reported the number employees increased at their firms in this month’s survey compared to just 9% in the October survey.

NABE, an association of people who use economics in their work, such as economists, reported that 97 of its members took part in the survey.

The new ADP/Moody’s National Employment Report: Over 77% of all new job growth in January 2021 came from Small and Medium-size Companies!

February 3, 2021

Private sector employment increased by 174,000 jobs from December to January according to the January ADP National Employment Report.  Broadly distributed to the public each month, free of charge, the ADP NER is produced by the ADP Research Institute in collaboration with Moody’s Analytics.  The report, which is derived from ADP’s actual payroll data, measures the change in total nonfarm private employment each month on a seasonally-adjusted basis.

The matched sample used to develop the ADP National Employment Report® was derived from ADP payroll data, which represents 460,000 U.S. clients employing nearly 26,000,000 workers in the U.S.  The December total of jobs added was revised from

<-123,000> to <-78,000>.

Total U.S. Nonfarm Private Employment:             174,000

By Company Size

Small businesses:                               51,000

1-19 employees                                   26,000

20-49 employees                                 25,000

Medium businesses:                          84,000

50-499 employees                               84,000

Large businesses:                             39,000

500-999 employees                             28,000

1,000+ employees                               11,000

By Sector

I.  Goods-producing:                                       19,000

A.  Natural resources/mining                                                          0

B.  Construction                                                                      18,000

C.  Manufacturing                                                                     1,000

II.  Service-providing:                                    156,000

A.  Trade/transportation/utilities                                              16,000

B.  Information                                                                       <-2,000>

C.  Financial activities                                                                           1,000

D.  Professional/business services                                           40,000

                        1.  Professional/technical services                               16,000

                        2.  Management of companies/enterprises                     1,000

                        3.  Administrative/support services                             24,000

            E.  Education/health services                                                   54,000

                        1.  Health care/social assistance                                   48,000

                        2.  Education                                                                  6,000

            F.  Leisure/hospitality                                                              35,000

            G.  Other services                                                                     10,000

Franchise Employment

Franchise Jobs                                    10,700

“The labor market continues its slow recovery amid COVID-19 headwinds,” said Ahu Yildirmaz, vice president and co-head of the ADP Research Institute.  “Although job losses were previously concentrated among small and midsized businesses, we are now seeing signs of the prolonged impact of the pandemic on large companies as well.”

(The February 2021 ADP National Employment Report will be released at 8:15 a.m. ET on March 3, 2021.)

Due to the important contribution that small businesses make to economic growth, employment data that is specific to businesses with 49 or fewer employees is reported each month in the ADP Small Business Report®, a subset of the ADP National Employment Report.

January 2021 Small Business Report Highlights

Total Small Business Employment:             51,000

●By Size  
►1-19 employees 26,000
►20-49 employees 25,000
●By Sector for 1-49 Employees  
►Goods Producing <-6,000>
►Service Producing 57,000
●By Sector for 1-19 Employees  
►Goods Producing <-6,000>
►Service Producing 32,000
●By Sector for 20-49 Employees  
►Goods Producing <-1,000>
►Service Producing 26,000

Bottom-line:  To my audience of recruiters, always remember this:  Our ‘bread and butter’, especially on the contingency side of the house, has historically been, and continues to be, small and medium-sized client companies.  Along with the large companies, these companies need to be in included in your niche!

Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey – November 2020

January 12, 2021

The number of job openings was little changed at 6,500,000 on the last business day of November, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.  Hires were little changed at 6,000,000 while total separations increased to 5,400,000.  Within separations, the quits rate was unchanged at 2.2% while the layoffs and discharges rate increased to 1.4%.  This release includes estimates of the number and rate of job openings, hires, and separations for the total nonfarm sector, by industry, and by four geographic regions.

Job Openings

On the last business day of November, the number and rate of job openings were little changed at 6,500,000 and 4.4% respectively.  Job openings decreased in durable goods manufacturing (-48,000), information (-45,000), and educational services (-21,000).  The number of job openings was little changed in all 4 regions.

Over the year, the number of job openings (not seasonally adjusted) was little changed in November. Job openings decreased in a number of industries over the year with the largest decreases in accommodation and food services; transportation, warehousing, and utilities; and information. The job openings level increased in nondurable goods manufacturing and in other services. The number of job openings was little changed in all 4 regions.


Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic Impact on November 2020 JOLTS Data

Data collection for the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey was affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.                                                    ________________________________________________________________________


In November, the number of hires was little changed at 6,000,000, and the hires rate was unchanged at 4.2%.  Hires increased in professional and business services (+175,000) and mining and logging (+13,000).  Hires decreased in accommodation and food services

(-73,000), other services (-67,000), and information (-43,000).  The number of hires was little changed in all 4 regions.

The number of hires in November (not seasonally adjusted) was little changed over the year.  Hires increased in professional and business services; transportation, warehousing, and utilities; and nondurable goods manufacturing.  Hires decreased in accommodation and food services and in information. The number of hires increased in the South region.


Total separations includes quits, layoffs and discharges, and other separations.  Quits are generally voluntary separations initiated by the employee.  Therefore, the quits rate can serve as a measure of workers’ willingness or ability to leave jobs.  Layoffs and discharges are involuntary separations initiated by the employer.  Other separations includes separations due to retirement, death, disability, and transfers to other locations of the same firm.

In November, the number of total separations increased to 5,400,000 (+271,000).  The total separations rate was little changed at 3.8%.  Total separations increased in accommodation and food services (+326,000).  The total separations level decreased in federal government (-70,000) and real estate and rental and leasing (-27,000).  Total separations increased in the West region.

Over the year, the number of total separations (not seasonally adjusted) was little changed. Total separations increased in accommodation and food services and in federal government.  Total separations decreased in retail trade and in arts, entertainment, and recreation.  The number of total separations was little changed in all 4 regions.

In November, the number of quits was little changed at 3,200,000, and the quits rate was unchanged at 2.2%.  Quits increased in accommodation and food services (+64,000).  The quits level decreased in health care and social assistance (-52,000), real estate and rental and leasing (-17,000), and federal government (-6,000).  The number of quits was little changed in all 4 regions.

Over the year, the number of quits (not seasonally adjusted) decreased to 2,700,000 (241,000).  Quits declined in several industries, with the largest decreases in retail trade; arts, entertainment, and recreation; and finance and insurance.  Quits increased in durable goods manufacturing and in federal government.  The number of quits decreased in the West region.

The number and rate of layoffs and discharges increased to 2,000,000 (+295,000) and 1.4%, respectively in November.  The number of layoffs and discharges increased in accommodation and food services (+263,000), health care and social assistance (+42,000), and state and local government, excluding education (+21,000).  Layoffs and discharges decreased in federal government (-54,000), but the overall level remained high due to the continued release of 2020 temporary Census workers in November.  Layoffs and discharges increased in the West region.

Over the year, the layoffs and discharges level (not seasonally adjusted) increased to 2,000,000 (+201,000).  Layoffs and discharges increased in accommodation and food services and in federal government.  The number of layoffs and discharges decreased in arts, entertainment, and recreation and in mining and logging.  The number of layoffs and discharges increased over the year in the Midwest and West regions.

The number of other separations was little changed in November at 287,000.  Other separations decreased in federal government (-10,000).  The other separations level decreased in the South region.

Over the year, the other separations level (not seasonally adjusted) decreased to 237,000 (-69,000).  Other separations decreased in retail trade; other services; and state and local government, excluding education.  The number of other separations decreased in the South region.

Net Change in Employment

Large numbers of hires and separations occur every month throughout the business cycle.  Net employment change results from the relationship between hires and separations.  When the number of hires exceeds the number of separations, employment rises, even if the hires level is steady or declining.  Conversely, when the number of hires is less than the number of separations, employment declines, even if the hires level is steady or rising.

Over the 12 months ending in November, hires totaled 70,700,000 and separations totaled 75,900,000, yielding a net employment loss of 5,200,000.  These totals include workers who may have been hired and separated more than once during the year.


The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey estimates for December 2020 are scheduled to be released on Tuesday, February 9, 2021 at 10:00 a.m. (ET).


Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic Impact on November 2020

Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey Data

                                               |                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   |

Data collection for the JOLTS survey was affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. While 42% of data are usually collected by phone at the JOLTS data collection center, most phone respondents were asked to report electronically.  However, data collection was adversely impacted due to the inability to reach some respondents that normally respond by phone.  The JOLTS response rate for November was 43%, while response rates prior to the pandemic averaged 54%.


BLS modified the JOLTS estimation methods in March through November to better reflect the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.  The estimation process usually includes an alignment of monthly hires minus separations to the over-the-month change in the Current Employment Statistics (CES) employment estimates.  For November estimates, as in earlier months, BLS suspended the alignment process.  The differing reference periods for the CES employment estimates (pay period including the 12th of the month) and the JOLTS hires and separations estimates (the entire reference month) led to different measurement outcomes. ________________________________________________________________________

As we recruiters know, that 6,500,000 number only represents 20% of the jobs currently available in the marketplace.  The other 80% of job openings are unpublished and are filled through networking or word of mouth or by using a RECRUITER.   So, those 6,500,000 published job openings now become a total of 32,500,000 published AND hidden job orders.



Online Labor Demand Falls in December

January 13, 2021

The Conference Board®-Burning Glass® Help Wanted OnLine® (HWOL) Index fell in December and now stands at 99.4 (July 2018=100), down from 102.9 in November.  The Index declined 1.0% from October to November and is down 2.8% from a year ago.

The Help Wanted OnLine® Index is produced in collaboration with Burning Glass Technologies, the global pioneer in real-time labor market data and analysis.  This recent collaboration enhances the Help Wanted OnLine® program by providing additional insights into important labor market trends.


Prior to 2020, The Conference Board constructed the HWOL Index based solely on online job ads over time.  Using a methodology designed to reduce non-economic volatility contributed by online job sources, the HWOL Index served an effective measure of changes in labor demand over time.

Beginning January 2020, the HWOL Index was refined as an estimate of change in job openings (based on BLS JOLTS), using a series of econometric models which incorporate job ads with other macroeconomic indicators such as employment and aggregate hours worked.  By adopting a modeled approach which combines other data sources with data on online job ads, the HWOL Index more accurately tracks important movements in the labor market.

The Conference Board®-Burning Glass® Help Wanted OnLine® (HWOL) Index measures changes over time in advertised online job vacancies, reflecting monthly trends in employment opportunities across the US.  The HWOL Data Series aggregates the total number of ads available by month from the HWOL universe of online job ads.  Ads in the HWOL universe are collected in real-time from over 50,000 online job domains including traditional job boards, corporate boards, social media sites, and smaller job sites that serve niche markets and smaller geographic areas.

Like The Conference Board’s long-running Help Wanted Advertising Index of print ads (which was published for over 55 years and discontinued in July 2008), Help Wanted OnLine® measures help wanted advertising, i.e. labor demand.  The HWOL Data Series began in May 2005 and was revised in December 2018.  With the December 2018 revision, The Conference Board released the HWOL Index, improving upon the HWOL Data Series’ ability to assess local labor market trends by reducing volatility and non-economic noise and improving correlation with local labor market conditions.

In 2019, the Help Wanted OnLine® program partnered with Burning Glass Technologies, Inc., the new sole provider of online job ad data for HWOL.  With the partnership, the HWOL Data Series has been revised historically to reflect a new universe and methodology of online job advertisements and therefore cannot be used in conjunction with the pre-revised HWOL Data Series.  The HWOL Data Series begins in January 2015 and the HWOL Index begins in December 2005.  HWOL Index values prior to 2020 are based on job ads collected by CEB, Inc.

Those using this data are urged to review the information on the database and methodology available on The Conference Board website and contact us with questions and comments.

About The Conference Board

The Conference Board is the member-driven think tank that delivers trusted insights for what’s ahead. Founded in 1916, we are a non-partisan, not-for-profit entity holding 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt status in the United States.

About Burning Glass Technologies, Inc.

Burning Glass Technologies delivers job market analytics that empower employers, workers, and educators to make data-driven decisions.  Powered by the world’s largest and most sophisticated database of labor market data and talent, Burning Glass Technologies analyzes hundreds of millions of job postings and real-life career transitions to provide insight into labor market patterns.  Users of our products include corporate human resources departments, market analysts and employment services firms as well as the federal, state, and local labor market analysts that use HWOL.

The next release for January 2021 is Wednesday, February 10 at 10 AM.

U-6 Update

In January 2021, the regular unemployment rate fell 0.4% to 6.3% and the broader U-6 measure fell 0.6% to 11.1%.  Both of these percentages are still almost totally due to the COVID-19 economic shutdown across the U.S and the slow ‘Reopening’.

The above 11.1% is referred to as the U-6 unemployment rate (found in the monthly BLS Employment Situation Summary, Table A-15; Table A-12 in 2008 and before).  It counts not only people without work seeking full-time employment (the more familiar U-3 rate), but also counts “marginally attached workers and those working part-time for economic reasons.”  Note that some of these part-time workers counted as employed by U-3 could be working as little as an hour a week.  And the “marginally attached workers” include those who have gotten discouraged and stopped looking, but still want to work.  The age considered for this calculation is 16 years and over.

Here is a look at the January U-6 numbers for the previous 18 years:

January 2020               6.9%

January 2019               8.0%

January 2018               8.2%

January 2017               9.4%

January 2016               9.9%

January 2015               11.3%

January 2014               12.7%

January 2013               14.4%

January 2012               15.1%

January 2011               16.1%

January 2010               16.5%

January 2009               14.0%

January 2008               9.0%

January 2007               8.3%

January 2006               8.4%

January 2005               9.3%

January 2004               9.9%

January 2003               9.9%

The January 2021 BLS Analysis

Total nonfarm payroll employment changed little (+49,000), the U.S. bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.  The labor market continued to reflect the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and efforts to contain it.  In January, notable job gains in professional and business services and in both public and private education were offset by losses in leisure and hospitality, in retail trade, in health care, and in transportation and warehousing.
The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for November was revised down by 72,000, from +336,000 to +264,000, and the change for December was revised down by 87,000, from -140,000 to -227,000.  With these revisions, employment in November and December combined was 159,000 lower than previously reported.  (Monthly revisions result from additional reports received from businesses and government agencies since the last published estimates and from the recalculation of seasonal factors.  The annual benchmark process also contributed to the November and December revisions.)

The unemployment rate is also published by the BLS.  That rate is found by dividing the number of unemployed by the total civilian labor force.  On February 5th, 2021, the BLS published the most recent unemployment rate for January 2021 of 6.3% (actually, it is 6.325% down by 0.361% from 6.686% in December.

The unemployment rate was determined by dividing the unemployed of 10,130,000

(–down from the month before by 606,000—since January 2020, this number has increased by 4,334,000) by the total civilian labor force of 160,161,000 (down by 406,000 from December 2020).  Since January 2020, our total civilian labor force has decreased by 4,284,000 workers.

(The continuing ‘Strange BLS Math’ saga—after a detour in December 2016 when the BLS {for the first time in years} DECREASED the total Civilian Noninstitutional Population—this month the BLS decreased this total to 260,851,000.  This is a decrease of 379,000 from last month’s increase of 145,000.  In one year, this population has increased by 1,349,000.  For the last 3 years the Civilian Noninstitutional Population has increased each month—except in December 2016, December 2018, December 2019, & December 2020—by…)

Down from December 2020by379,000
Up from November 2020by145,000
Up from October 2020by160,000
Up from September 2020by183,000
Up from August 2020by184,000
Up from July 2020by185,000
Up from June 2020by169,000
Up from May 2020by157,000
Up from April 2020by151,000
Up from March 2020by138,000
Up from February 2020by130,000
Up from January 2020by126,000
Down from December 2019by679,000
Up from November 2019by161,000
Up from October 2019by175,000
Up from September 2019by207,000
Up from August 2019by206,000
Up from July 2019by207,000
Up from June 2019by188,000
Up from May 2019by176,000
Up from April 2019by168,000
Up from March 2019by156,000
Up from February 2019by145,000
Up from January 2019by153,000
Down from December 2018by649,000
Up from November 2018by180,000
Up from October 2018by194,000
Up from September 2018by224,000
Up from August 2018by224,000
Up from July 2018by223,000
Up from June 2018by201,000
Up from May 2018by188,000
Up from April 2018by182,000
Up from March 2018by175,000
Up from February 2018by163,000
Up from January 2018by154,000

This month the BLS has increased the Civilian Labor Force to 160,161,000 (down from December by 406,000, mainly due to the slow reopening of the economy).

Subtract the second number (‘civilian labor force’) from the first number (‘civilian noninstitutional population’) and you get 100,690,000 ‘Not in Labor Force’—up by 27,000 from last month’s 100,663,000.  In one year, this NILF population has increased by 5,643,000.  The government tells us that most of these NILFs got discouraged and just gave up looking for a job.  My monthly recurring question is: “If that is the case, how do they survive when they don’t earn any money because they don’t have a job?  Are they ALL relying on the government to support them??”

This month, our Employment Participation Rate—the population 16 years and older working or seeking work—fell by 0.1% to 61.4%.  This ‘reopening’ rate is 1.0% below the historically low rate of 62.4% recorded in September 2015—and, before that, the rate recorded in October 1977—9 months into Jimmy Carter’s presidency—almost 40 years ago!

Final take on these numbers:  Fewer people looking for work will always bring down the unemployment rate.

Anyway, back to the point I am trying to make.  On the surface, these new unemployment rates are scary, but let’s look a little deeper and consider some other numbers.

The unemployment rate includes all types of workers—construction workers, government workers, etc.  We recruiters, on the other hand, mainly place management, professional and related types of workers.  That unemployment rate in January was 3.7% (this rate was .3% higher than last month’s 3.4%).  Or you can look at it another way.  We usually place people who have college degrees.  That unemployment rate in January was4.0% (this rate was .2% higher than last month’s 3.8%).

Now stay with me a little longer.  This gets better.  It’s important to understand (and none of the pundits mention this) that the unemployment rate, for many reasons, will never be 0%, no matter how good the economy is.  Without boring you any more than I have already, let me add here that Milton Friedman (the renowned Nobel Prize-winning economist), is famous for the theory of the “natural rate of unemployment” (or the term he preferred, NAIRU, which is the acronym for Non-Accelerating Inflation Rate of Unemployment).  Basically, this theory states that full employment presupposes an ‘unavoidable and acceptable’ unemployment rate of somewhere between 4-6% with it.  Economists often settle on 5%, although the “New Normal Unemployment Rate” has been suggested to fall at 6.7%.

Nevertheless (if you will allow me to apply a ‘macro’ concept to a ‘micro’ issue), if this rate is applied to our main category of Management, Professional and Related types of potential recruits, and/or our other main category of College-Degreed potential recruits, because of the COVID-19 shutdown, we are not that far above the 4-6% threshold for full employment…and that will change as soon as we all return to work!


“The economic goal of any nation, as of any individual, is to get the greatest results with the least effort.  The whole economic progress of mankind has consisted in getting more production with the same labor…Translated into national terms, this first principle means that our real objective is to maximize production.  In doing this, full employment—that is, the absence of involuntary idleness—becomes a necessary by-product.  But production is the end, employment merely the means.  We cannot continuously have the fullest production without full employment.  But we can very easily have full employment without full production.”

–Economics in One Lesson, by Henry Hazlitt, Chapter X, “The Fetish of Full Employment”

On January 28th, the US Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) announced the real gross domestic product (GDP) increased at an annual rate of 4.0% in the fourth quarter of 2020, according to the “advance” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis.  In the third quarter, real GDP increased 33.4%.

The GDP estimate released today is based on source data that are incomplete or subject to further revision by the source agency.  The “second” estimate for the fourth quarter, based on more complete data, will be released on February 25, 2021.

The increase in real GDP reflected increases in exports, nonresidential fixed investment, personal consumption expenditures (PCE), residential fixed investment, and private inventory investment that were partly offset by decreases in state and local government spending and federal government spending.  Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, increased.

COVID-19 Impact on the Fourth-Quarter 2020 GDP Estimate

The increase in fourth quarter GDP reflected both the continued economic recovery from the sharp declines earlier in the year and the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, including new restrictions and closures that took effect in some areas of the United States.  The full economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic cannot be quantified in the GDP estimate for the fourth quarter of 2020 because the impacts are generally embedded in source data and cannot be separately identified.

The increase in exports primarily reflected an increase in goods (led by industrial supplies and materials).  The increase in nonresidential fixed investment reflected increases in all components, led by equipment.

The increase in PCE was more than accounted for by spending on services (led by health care); spending on goods decreased (led by food and beverages).  The increase in residential fixed investment primarily reflected investment in new single-family housing.  The increase in private inventory investment primarily reflected increases in manufacturing and in wholesale trade that were partly offset by a decrease in retail trade.

GDP for 2020

Real GDP decreased <-3.5%> in 2020 (from the 2019 annual level to the 2020 annual level), compared with an increase of 2.2% in 2019.

The decrease in real GDP in 2020 reflected decreases in PCE, exports, private inventory investment, nonresidential fixed investment, and state and local government that were partly offset by increases in federal government spending and residential fixed investment. Imports decreased.

The decrease in PCE in 2020 was more than accounted for by a decrease in services (led by food services and accommodations, health care, and recreation services).  The decrease in exports reflected decreases in both services (led by travel) and goods (mainly non-automotive capital goods).  The decrease in private inventory investment reflected widespread decreases led by retail trade (mainly motor vehicle dealers) and wholesale trade (mainly durable goods industries).  The decrease in nonresidential fixed investment reflected decreases in structures (led by mining exploration, shafts, and wells) and equipment (led by transportation equipment) that were partly offset by an increase in intellectual property products (more than accounted for by software).  The decrease in state and local government spending reflected a decrease in consumption expenditures (led by compensation).

The increase in federal government spending reflected an increase in nondefense consumption expenditures (led by an increase in purchases of intermediate services that supported the processing and administration of Paycheck Protection Program loan applications by banks on behalf of the federal government).  The increase in residential fixed investment primarily reflected increases in improvements as well as brokers’ commissions and other ownership transfer costs.

*          *          *

Next release, January 28, 2021 at 8:30 A.M. EST
Gross Domestic Product, Fourth Quarter 2020 (Advance Estimate) and Year 2020


‘Unemployment’ is an emotional ‘trigger’ word…a ‘third rail’, if you will.  It conjures up negative thoughts.  But it is important to realize that, while we want everyone who wants a job to have the opportunity to work, unemployment can never be zero and, in fact, can be disruptive to an economy if it gets too close to zero.  Very low unemployment can actually hurt the economy by creating an upward pressure on wages which invariably leads to higher production costs and prices.  This can lead to inflation.  The lowest the unemployment rate has been in the US was 2.5%.  That was in May and June 1953 when the economy overheated due to the Korean War.  When this bubble burst, it kicked off the Recession of 1953.  A healthy economy will always include some percentage of unemployment.

There are five main sources of unemployment:

1.  Cyclical (or demand-deficient) unemployment – This type of unemployment fluctuates with the business cycle.  It rises during a recession and falls during the subsequent recovery.  Workers who are most affected by this type of unemployment are laid off during a recession when production volumes fall, and companies use lay-offs as the easiest way to reduce costs.  These workers are usually rehired, some months later, when the economy improves.

2.  Frictional unemployment – This comes from the normal turnover in the labor force.  This is where new workers are entering the workforce and older workers are retiring and leaving vacancies to be filled by the new workers or those re-entering the workforce.  This category includes workers who are between jobs.

3.  Structural unemployment – This happens when the skills possessed by the unemployed worker don’t match the requirements of the opening—whether those be in characteristics and skills or in location.  This can come from new technology or foreign competition (e.g., foreign outsourcing).  This type of unemployment usually lasts longer than frictional unemployment because retraining, and sometimes relocation, is involved.  Occasionally jobs in this category can just disappear overseas.

4.  Seasonal unemployment – This happens when the workforce is affected by the climate or time of year.  Construction workers and agricultural workers aren’t needed as much during the winter season because of the inclement weather.  On the other hand, retail workers experience an increase in hiring shortly before, and during, the holiday season, but can be laid off shortly thereafter.

5.  Surplus unemployment – This is caused by minimum wage laws and unions.  When wages are set at a higher level, unemployment can often result.  Why?  To keep within the same payroll budget, the company must let go of some workers to pay the remaining workers a higher salary.

Other factors influencing the unemployment rate:

1.  Length of unemployment – Some studies indicate that an important factor influencing a worker’s decision to accept a new job is directly related to the length of the unemployment benefit they are receiving.  Currently, in 2019, workers in most states are eligible for up to 26 weeks of benefits from the regular state-funded unemployment compensation program.  One state (MT) offers more and ten states offer less.  Studies suggest that additional weeks of benefits reduce the incentive of the unemployed to seek and accept less-desirable jobs.

2.  Changes in GDP – Since hiring workers takes time, the improvement in the unemployment rate usually lags the improvement in the GDP.


Now back to the issue at hand, namely the recruiting, and placing, of professionals and those with college degrees.

If you look at the past 21 years of unemployment in the January “management, professional and related” types of worker category, you will find the following rates:

January 2020               2.2%

January 2019               2.5%

January 2018               2.2%

January 2017               2.3%

January 2016               2.3%

January 2015               2.9%

January 2014               3.1%

January 2013               3.9%

January 2012               4.3%

January 2011               4.7%

January 2010               5.0%

January 2009               4.1%

January 2008               2.2%

January 2007               2.0%

January 2006               2.1%

January 2005               2.4%

January 2004               3.0%

January 2003               3.2%

January 2002               3.1%

January 2001               1.8%

January 2000               1.8%

Here are the rates, during those same time periods, for “college-degreed” workers:

January 2020               2.0%

January 2019               2.4%

January 2018               2.2%

January 2017               2.5%

January 2016               2.5%

January 2015               2.8%

January 2014               3.3%

January 2013               3.8%                                       

January 2012               4.2%

January 2011               4.2%

January 2010               4.8%

January 2009               3.9%

January 2008               2.1%

January 2007               2.1%

January 2006               2.1%

January 2005               2.4%

January 2004               2.9%

January 2003               3.0%

January 2002               2.9%

January 2001               1.6%

January 2000               1.8%

The January 2021 rates for these two categories, 3.7% and 4.0%, respectively, are still fairly high because so many workers are sheltering in place in their homes and not going to work.  But regardless, these unemployment numbers usually include a good number of job hoppers, job shoppers and rejects.  We, on the other hand, are engaged by our client companies to find those candidates who are happy, well-appreciated, making good money and currently working and we entice them to move for even better opportunities—especially where new technologies are expanding.  This will never change.  And that is why, no matter the overall unemployment rate, we still need to MARKET to find the best possible job orders to work and we still need to RECRUIT to find the best possible candidates for those Job Orders.

Below are the numbers for the over 25-year old’s:

Less than H.S. diploma – Unemployment Rate


H.S. Grad; no college – Unemployment Rate


Some College; or AA/AS – Unemployment Rate


BS/BS + – Unemployment Rate


Management, Professional & Related – Unemployment Rate


Or employed…(,000)


And unemployed…(,000)


For a total Management, Professional & Related workforce of…(,000)


Management, Business and Financial Operations – Unemployment Rate


Professional & Related – Unemployment Rate


Sales & Related – Unemployment Rate