BLS Analysis for Recruiters May 2020

Bob Marshall’s May 2020 BLS Analysis for Recruiters; 6/5/20

May BLS Preface

TBMG Coaching Updates and Product News:

Before we start this BLS Analysis for Recruiters, how about some good news for a change!

As many of you are aware, the Stock Market is a good barometer of how business feels about the future of the economy.  Not where we are today, but where we will go in the future.  So, in this report, the DJIA numbers give us hope for the future.  Right now, on Friday, June 5th, at 1:30PM eastern time the DJIA is at:


Now, to give some perspective, consider these DJIA milestones, when most of us were working:

22,000 barrier was crossed on August 2nd, 2017;

23,000 barrier was crossed on October 18th, 2017;

24,000 barrier was crossed on November 30th, 2017:

25,000 barrier was crossed on January 4th, 2018;

26,000 barrier was crossed on January 17th, 2018;

27,000 barrier was crossed on July 11th, 2019

28,000 barrier was crossed on November 15, 2019

29,000 barrier was crossed on January 10, 2020

29,551.42 was achieved on January 12, 2020

So, considering that most of our workers are still at home and the reopening of the U.S. is just beginning, this little look to the future, provided by our investors, shows a lot of promise!

“Negotiating Techniques – Adapted for the Tenured Recruiter”—A Thirteen-Part Series”; April-July 2020

We began this series on April 29, 2020.  Part Six was just released last Tuesday, June 2nd.  FYI, here are the 13 topics and the release dates:

April 29 – Intro & Part One – The 3 Definitions & 5 Principles of Negotiation

May 5 – Part Two – The First Key Element is Power; The Power of Competition; The Power of Legitimacy

May 12 – Part Three – Power; The Power of Risk-Taking; The Power of Commitment

May 19 – Part Four – Power; The Power of Expertise; The Power of the Knowledge of Needs

May 26 – Part Five – Power; The Power of Investment; The Power of Rewards or Punishing

June 2 – Part Six – Power; The Power of Identification; The Power of Morality

June 9 – Part Seven – Power; The Power of Precedent; The Power of Persistence

June 16 – Part Eight – Power; The Power of Persuasive Capacity; The Power of Attitude

June 23 – Part Nine – The Second Key Element is TIME

June 30 – Part Ten – The Third Key Element is INFORMATION

July 7 – Part Eleven – Negotiating Style – Winning at All Costs

July 14 – Part Twelve – Negotiating Style – Mutual Satisfaction

July 21 – Part Thirteen – Compare and Contrast the Two Negotiating Styles


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.

Dow Jones Soars 1,000 Points On ‘Amazing’ Jobs Report; Apple Hits All-Time High, While Boeing Surges 17%

Scott Lehtonen, June 5, 2020

The Dow Jones Industrial Average surged more than 1,000 points midday Friday on an “amazing” May jobs report before trimming gains. 

Dow Jones stock Apple set a new all-time high.  Blue chip peer Boeing soared as much as 17%, as the current stock market rally continues.  So maybe this economy gets back on track and some of Tech giants Apple and Microsoft moved up 2.5% and 2% in today’s stock market.  Dow Jones stock Boeing vaulted as much as 17% in midday trade.  Potential breakout stocks to watch are Costco and Tesla.  Chip giant Broadcom and IPO Leader DocuSign reported earnings late Thursday.  Meanwhile, coronavirus stock Slack plunged as much as 19% on earnings.

Dow Jones Today: ‘Amazing’ Jobs Report

The Nasdaq composite gained 2.3% Friday midday.  The S&P 500 moved up 2.9%, while the Dow Jones industrials advanced 3.65%.

Ahead of the stock market open Friday, the Labor Department said employment rose by 2,500,000 in May and the jobless rate declined to 13.3%.  The report was much better than economists had feared.  Wall Street expected a loss of 7,700,000 jobs and a 19.8% unemployment rate.  The May jobs gain was the biggest 1-month rise since at least 1939.

The strong jobs report prompted President Trump to tweet, “This is an AMAZING JOBS REPORT!..”  President Trump also called a news conference at 10 am ET, tweeting, “I will be doing a News Conference at 10:00 A.M. on the Jobs Numbers!  White House.”  At the news conference, Trump commented, “Tremendous progress is being made on vaccines. In fact, we’re ready to go in terms of transportation and logistics.  We have over 2,000,000 ready to go if it checks out for safety.”

Among exchange traded funds, Innovator IBD 50 rallied 1.6%.  The ETF of top growth stocks is about 14% off its 52-week high.  Meanwhile, the Nasdaq 100-linked Invesco QQQ Trust ETF traded up 2.1%, and the SPDR S&P 500 ETF was up 2.9%.

Within the coronavirus stock market rally, the tech-heavy Nasdaq is positive for 2020, up 7.2% through Thursday’s close.  Meanwhile, the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average are down 3.7% and 7.9%, respectively, through June 4.

Coronavirus News: U.S. Cases Top 1,900,000

The coronavirus outbreak continues to spread across the U.S.  According to the Worldometer data tracker, the cumulative number of confirmed U.S. cases topped 1,900,000.  Despite the rising total, the daily number of new cases is trending lower.

Confirmed Covid-19 cases worldwide climbed above 6,700,000, with about 393,000 virus-related deaths.  With the daily number of new cases still on the decline, investors in the U.S. are turning attention to the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak and how fast the country reopens for business.

Current Stock Market Rally

According to IBD’s The Big Picture, the stock market uptrend remains solid after hitting lows more than 2 months ago on March 23.  The major stock indexes confirmed a new uptrend on April 2.

Per Thursday’s Big Picture, “Stunningly, the Nasdaq 100 hit a record high Thursday, becoming the first major stock index to completely recover from the coronavirus stock market crash.  On March 23, the Nasdaq 100 bottomed after a 22.5% drop from the start of the year.”

Employees More Confident They Will Retain Jobs, But Productivity Hasn’t Recovered to Pre-Pandemic Levels

Daily News, June 2. 2020

Employees grew more confident in their ability to retain their jobs even as the Covid-19 pandemic wore on, according to the ADP Research Institute, which conducted surveys of employees during the first 8 weeks of the pandemic.

Employees were most concerned about losing their jobs in the 3rd week.  However, 70% of workers in the last 2 weeks of the survey expected they would retain their job for at least the next month.

However, productivity does not appear to have recovered to pre-pandemic levels, according to the ADP Research Institute.  Working hours, the frequency of communication with others and the ability to complete tasks declined quickly and did not bounce back.

Other survey findings:

*17% of workers were required to work from home in the 1st week and rising to 1-in-4 during the 2nd week.

*In the 1st few weeks of the crisis, stress levels were high as workers struggled with childcare, fear of the virus, technical issues and trouble completing their tasks.  By week 3 and 4, these issues became less likely to impact their work.  Some elements such as stress, work-life balance and ability to connect with others did not improve, but they became less impactful on their work.

*62% of those who retained their jobs said the pandemic has had a negative impact on their personal finances or they expect it to.

Only 10% of Employers Expect COVID-19 Layoffs to be Permanent

Daily News, May 27, 2020

Two-thirds of employers took some action in March and April that negatively impacted employee pay, including layoffs and furloughs, according to data released today by

66% of employers surveyed either reduced their workforce or employee pay in response to Covid-19; however, only 10% of respondents expect the layoffs to be permanent.

The survey found 32% of employers laid people off (temporary or permanent), 10% reduced base pay, and 21% reduced variable pay (including bonuses and commissions).  In addition to the expectation that 90% of layoffs may be temporary, 65% of employers reported that base pay remained unchanged and 45% said they are leaving merit raises in place in 2020.

Industries that were hit the hardest by the economic downturn — such as retail (brick and mortar), manufacturing, nonprofits and healthcare — were more likely to take multiple negative actions that affected employee pay.  For all industries, 20% of employers eliminated planned merit raises for 2020 and another 24% are postponing merit increases.

The survey, fielded in mid-April, included 1,176 people working in compensation or total rewards roles within HR.

Majority of Americans Won’t Consider Changing Jobs Amid COVID-19 if They Can Continue Working at Current Positions

Daily News, May 21, 2020

Will employed Americans consider a job change during the pandemic?  A survey of 993 full-time and part-time US workers by staffing provider Yoh found that 78% would not as long as they can continue to work at their current job.

One reason: 69% say they don’t think they would be able to find a new job during the Covid-19 crisis.

The survey also found that 72% of those ages 35-54 don’t think they would be able to find a new job during the pandemic.  Those ages 18 to 24 were a bit more optimistic with 67% saying they don’t think they would be able to find another job while among those ages 55 and up, 65% didn’t think they would be able to find another job.

“While many Americans are rightfully wary about changing jobs during such an uncertain time, hiring can and does happen,” said Emmett McGrath, president of Yoh.  “However, it does require expert recruitment process and employers who take the steps to show workers the value they have on the business’s success.”

Other findings in the survey included:

*69% of those 44 and younger vs. 55% of those 45 and older would consider changing jobs during the pandemic if they felt their current company was not doing enough to protect their employees.

*60% of those 44 and younger vs. 42% of those 45 and older would consider changing jobs during the crisis to work for a company that is actively making a difference to help the situation.

*56% of those 44 and younger vs. 36% of those 45 and older say working in the current Covid-19 crisis has made them reconsider if they are in the right job.

The survey was conducted online for Yoh by The Harris Poll.

IT Sheds 45,800 Jobs in April, But Still Fares Better Than Overall Job Market

Daily News, May 18, 2020

IT employment in the US posted its largest single drop in April since March 2009, according to an analysis by the TechServe Alliance, the national trade association of IT and engineering staffing.  The number of IT jobs fell by 45,800 from the previous month, a decrease of 0.86%, to a total of 5,300,000 jobs.

On a year-over-year basis, the number of jobs was down by 43,600.

TechServe Alliance CEO Mark Roberts said despite the largest loss in IT jobs since the Great Recession, it wasn’t as bad as the 13.5% loss in the total job market.

“The one-month decline experienced by the labor markets is nothing short of breathtaking.  Unfortunately, given the extent of the economic damage inflicted by the Covid-19 crisis, significant future job losses lie ahead,” Roberts said.  “While there are few silver linings in the jobs picture, IT, and to a lesser extent engineering, will continue to fare better than the overall workforce.”

The TechServe Alliance also noted the number of engineering jobs fell by 6.7% in April to a total of 2,500,000 jobs.  It was the largest decline since the organization began its engineering jobs index.

Year over year, engineering jobs were down 5.5%.

US Could Add 2,300,000 Jobs Per Month When Recovery Begins in Q3

Daily News, May 15, 2020

A US economic recovery should start in the 3rd quarter, with the job gains averaging 2,300,000 per month.  That was the median forecast in the Survey of Professional Forecasters released today by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.

Real gross domestic product is expected to grow by 10.6% on an annualized basis in the 3rd quarter as well, according to the median forecast in the report.

Overall, the forecasters expect recovery to occur over the next 4 quarters.

In comparison, the median forecast for the 2nd (current) quarter calls for a contraction in real GDP of 32.2%.  Prior to the Covid-19 crisis, the previous estimate for growth had been 2.1% for the 2nd quarter.

Almost 40% of Recruiters Expect to see Hiring Increases within 90 Days; Healthcare Recruiters Most Optimistic

Healthcare Staffing Report, May 13, 2020

While the unemployment rate and out-of-work contractors have taken an immediate toll on the economy, more than 38% of surveyed recruiters expect to see increases in job requisitions within 90 days, according to the Recruiter Index released by  And more than 22% expect those results to start in as little as 30 days.

Meanwhile, 17% expect no change.

Healthcare recruiters are among the most optimistic: 45.5% predict increased job order loads in the next 30 days, and 54.5% predict increased hiring in the next 90 days. is a website that links job seekers, recruiters and employers.  The index gathers data from its network of more than 20,000 small and independent recruiters to uncover critical insights into where hiring is heading.

Other key trends from the Recruiter Index include:

*The immediate outlook is also positive for recruiters in internet/other information services: 50% predict increased job requisition loads in the next 30 days.

*66% of the recruiters in financial services expect demand to increase or return to normal in the next 90 days.

*Even recruiters in hard-hit industries are more optimistic than one might expect: One-third of recruiters in food/beverage expect job requisition loads to increase within 90 days.

The new ADP/Moody’s National Employment Report: Private Sector Employment Decreased by 2,760,000 Jobs in May

June 3, 2020

Private sector employment decreased by 2,760,000 jobs from April to May according to the May ADP National Employment Report.  The report utilizes data through the 12th of the month.  The NER uses the same time period the Bureau of Labor and Statistics uses for their survey.  As such, the May NER does not reflect the full impact of COVID-19 on the overall employment situation.

*Note:  The April total of jobs lost was revised from <-20,236,000> to <-19,557,000>.

This report is produced by ADP® in collaboration with Moody’s Analytics.  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.

By Company Size

Small businesses:                <-435,000>

1-19 employees                    <-253,000>

20-49 employees                  <-182,000>

Medium businesses:           <-722,000>

50-499 employees                <-722,000>

Large businesses:           <-1,604,000>

500-999 employees              <-272,000>

1,000+ employees             <-1,332,000>

By Sector

I.  Goods-producing:                                <-794,000>

A.  Natural resources/mining                             <-52,000>

B.  Construction                                                  <-22,000>

C.  Manufacturing                                             <-719,000>

II.  Service-providing:                            <-1,967,000>

A.  Trade/transportation/utilities                        <-826,000>

B.  Information                                                  <-115,000>

C.  Financial activities                                                   <-196,000>

D.  Professional/business services                     <-250,000>

                        1.  Professional/technical services                             <-221,000>

                        2.  Management of companies/enterprises                  <-70,000>

                        3.  Administrative/support services                                 40,000

            E.  Education/health services                              <-168,000>

                        1.  Health care/social assistance                                  <-333,000>

                        2.  Education                                                                   166,000

            F.  Leisure/hospitality                                         <-105,000>

            G.  Other services                                                <-307,000>

Franchise Employment

Franchise Jobs                        <-254,100>

“The impact of the COVID-19 crisis continues to weigh on businesses of all sizes,” said Ahu Yildirmaz, co-head of the ADP Research Institute.  “While the labor market is still reeling from the effects of the pandemic, job loss likely peaked in April, as many states have begun a phased reopening of businesses.”

(The June 2020 ADP National Employment Report will be released at 8:15 a.m. ET on July 1, 2020.)

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.

May 2020 Small Business Report Highlights

Total Small Business Employment:             <-435,000>

●By Size  
►1-19 employees <-253,000>
►20-49 employees <-182,000>
●By Sector for 1-49 Employees  
►Goods Producing <-91,000>
►Service Producing <-344,000>
●By Sector for 1-19 Employees  
►Goods Producing <-41,000>
►Service Producing <-212,000>
●By Sector for 20-49 Employees  
►Goods Producing <-49,000>
►Service Producing <-132,000>

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 – March 2020

May 15, 2020

The number of total separations increased by 8,900,000 to a series high of 14,500,000 in March, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.  Within separations, the quits rate fell to 1.8% and the layoffs and discharges rate increased to 7.5%.  Job openings decreased to 6,200,000 on the last business day of March.  Over the month, hires declined to 5,200,000.  The changes in these measures reflect the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and efforts to contain it.  This release includes estimates of the number and rate of job openings, hires, and separations for the total nonfarm sector, by industry, and by 4 geographic regions.
Job Openings
On the last business day of March, the number and rate of job openings declined to 6,200,000 (-813,000) and 3.9%, respectively.  Job openings fell in total private 
(-774,000), with the largest declines in accommodation and food services (-258,000) and durable goods manufacturing (-82,000).  The number of job openings decreased in the South, Midwest, and West regions.
In March, the number and rate of hires decreased to 5,200,000 (-658,000) and 3.4%, respectively.  The hires level decreased for total private (-654,000) and was little changed for government.  Hires decreased in accommodation and food services (-344,000), health care and social assistance (-87,000), and durable goods manufacturing (-33,000).  Hires increased in federal government (+8,000).  The number of hires decreased in the Northeast, South, and West regions.
Total separations includes quits, layoffs and discharges, and other separations.  Total separations is referred to as turnover.  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 March, the number and rate of total separations increased to a series high of 14,500,000 (+8,922,000) and 9.6%, respectively.  The number of total separations increased for total private to 14,100,000 (+8,862,000) and for government to 411,000 (+60,000).  Total separations increased in almost all industries, with the largest increases in accommodation and food services (+3,999,000) and other services (+839,000).  The number of total separations increased in all 4 regions.
In March, the number and rate of quits decreased to 2,800,000 (-654,000) and 1.8%, respectively.  Total private quits fell to 2,600,000 (-640,000), while government edged down to 177,000 (-14,000).  Quits decreased in a number of industries, with the largest decreases in accommodation and food services (-145,000) and retail trade (-137,000).  The number of quits decreased in all 4 regions.
The number and rate of layoffs and discharges increased in March to a series high of 11,400,000 (+9,526,000) and 7.5%, respectively.  The number of layoffs and discharges increased for total private to 11,200,000 (+9,445,000) and for government to 175,000 (+80,000).  The layoffs and discharges level increased significantly in all but one industry, with the largest increases in accommodation and food services (+4,136,000) and retail trade (+908,000).  The number of layoffs and discharges increased in all 4 regions. 
The number of other separations edged up in March (+50,000).  Other separations increased for total private (+57,000) and edged down for government (-7,000).  The largest increase in other separations was in other services (+17,000).  The number of other separations was little changed in all 4 regions.
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 March, hires totaled 69,800,000 and separations totaled 76,900,000, yielding a net employment loss of 7,100,000.  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 April 2020 are scheduled to be released on Tuesday, June 9, 2020 at 10:00 a.m. (EDT).
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic Impact on March 2020 Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey Data      |
Data collection for the JOLTS survey was affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. While 41% of data are usually collected by phone at the JOLTS data collection center, most phone respondents were asked to report electronically via our data collection website.  However, data collection was adversely impacted due to the inability to reach some respondents that normally respond by phone.  The JOLTS response rate for March was 57%, while response rates prior to the pandemic averaged 67%.  
BLS modified the JOLTS estimates for March 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 March estimates, however, BLS suspended the alignment process because 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 substantially different measurement outcomes.  The extremely large increase in separations during the latter half of March were not included in the CES employment change for March but were included in the JOLTS data for the month.

As we recruiters know, that 14,500,000 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 14,500,000 published job openings now become a total of 72,500,000 published AND hidden job orders.



Online Labor Demand Declined Sharply in April

May 13, 2020

The Conference Board®-Burning Glass® Help Wanted OnLine™ (HWOL) Index fell sharply in April and now stands at 58.6 (July 2018=100), down from 99.4 in March.  The Index declined 1.8% from February to March and is down 44.6% from a year ago.

The Index is based on a model that estimates the number of job openings in the US.  The model also includes a measure of online job ads, as well as other key labor market indicators.  A sharp decline in these labor market indicators resulted in a sharp decline in the index in April.

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 collaboration enhances the Help Wanted OnLine™ program by providing additional insights into important labor market trends.


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

Beginning in January 2020, the HWOL Index was further refined as an estimate of change in job openings (based on BLS JOLTS) by 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.

HWOL available on Haver Analytics

A number of the key HWOL Data Series are exclusively available on Haver Analytics. The available HWOL Data Series include the geographic and occupational series for levels and rates for both Total Ads and New Ads. In addition to the seasonally adjusted series, many of the unadjusted series are also available. The geographic detail includes: U.S., 9 Regions, 50 States, 52 MSAs (largest metro areas). The occupational detail includes: U.S. (2-digit SOC), States (1-digit SOC) and MSAs (1-digit SOC).

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. Background information and technical notes and discussion of revisions to the series are available at:

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 Technologiesdelivers 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. For more information, please visit:

The next release is Wednesday, June 19th, 2020 at 10 AM.

U-6 Update

In May 2020, the regular unemployment rate fell 1.4% to 13.3% and the broader U-6 measure fell 1.6% to 21.2%.  Both of these percentages are almost totally due to the COVID-19 economic shutdown across the U.S and the May Reopening.

The above 21.2% 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 May U-6 numbers for the previous 17 years:

May 2019                    7.1%

May 2018                    7.7%

May 2017                    8.4%

May 2016                    9.7%

May 2015                    10.7%

May 2014                    12.1%

May 2013                    13.8%

May 2012                    14.8%

May 2011                    15.8%

May 2010                    16.5%

May 2009                    16.4%

May 2008                    9.8%

May 2007                    8.3%

May 2006                    8.2%

May 2005                    8.9%

May 2004                    9.7%

May 2003                    10.1%

The May 2020 BLS Analysis

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 2,500,000 in May.  These improvements in the labor market reflected a limited resumption of economic activity that had been curtailed in March and April due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and efforts to contain it.  In May, employment rose sharply in leisure and hospitality, construction, education and health services, and retail trade.  By contrast, employment in government continued to decline sharply.
The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for March was revised down by 492,000, from -881,000 to -1,400,000, and the change for April was revised down by 150,000, from -20,500,000 to -20,700,000.  With these revisions, employment changes in March and April combined were 642,000 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 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 June 5th, 2020, the BLS published the most recent unemployment rate for May 2020 of 13.3% (actually, it is 13.263%, down by 1.485% from 14.748% in April.

The unemployment rate was determined by dividing the unemployed of 20,985,000

(–down from the month before by 2,093,000—since May 2019, this number has increased by 15,047,000) by the total civilian labor force of 158,227,000 (up by 1,746,000 from April 2020).  Since May 2019, our total civilian labor force has decreased by 4,555,000 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 once again increased this total to 260,047,000 259,896,000.  This is an increase of 151,000 from last month’s increase of 138,000.  In one year, this population has increased by 1,186,000. For the last 3 years the Civilian Noninstitutional Population has increased each month—except in December 2016, December 2018 & December 2019—by…)

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 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
Up from December 2017by671,000
Up from November 2017by160,000
Up from October 2017by183,000
Up from September 2017by204,000
Up from August 2017by205,000
Up from July 2017by206,000
Up from June 2017by194,000
Up from May 2017by173,000
Up from April 2017by179,000

This month the BLS has decreased the Civilian Labor Force to 158,227,000 (up from April by 1,746,000, mainly due to the reopening of the economy).

Subtract the second number (‘civilian labor force’) from the first number (‘civilian noninstitutional population’) and you get 101,820,000 ‘Not in Labor Force’—down by 1,595,000 from last month’s 103,415,000.  In one year, this NILF population has increased by 5,741,000.  Almost all of this increase is because of the economic shutdown.  Also, 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—remained at 60.8%.  This ‘ reopening’ rate is 1.6% 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 May was 6.6% (this rate was 1.1% lower than last month’s 7.7%).  Or, you can look at it another way.  We usually place people who have college degrees.  That unemployment rate in May was7.4% (this rate was 1.0% lower than last month’s 8.4%).

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”

*Note:  For obvious reasons (the forced shutdown of the US economy because of the COVID-19 pandemic), I was a little reluctant to publish this quarter’s GDP report.  But, in my continuing quest for a return to normalcy, I will share this info with you.  Just keep in mind that making any major business decisions based on these numbers is not advised!
On May 28th, the US Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) announced the real gross domestic product (GDP) decreased at an annual rate of 5.0% in the first quarter of 2020, according to the "second" estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis.  In the fourth quarter, real GDP increased 2.1%.

The GDP estimate released today is based on more complete source data than were available for the “advance” estimate issued last month.  In the advance estimate, the decrease in real GDP was 4.8%.  With the second estimate, a downward revision to private inventory investment was partly offset by upward revisions to personal consumption expenditures (PCE) and nonresidential fixed investment.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Impact on the First-Quarter 2020 GDP Estimate

The decline in first quarter GDP reflected the response to the spread of COVID-19, as governments issued “stay-at-home” orders in March.  This led to rapid changes in demand, as businesses and schools switched to remote work or canceled operations, and consumers canceled, restricted, or redirected their spending.  The full economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic cannot be quantified in the GDP estimate for the first quarter of 2020 because the impacts are generally embedded in source data and cannot be separately identified.

The decrease in real GDP in the first quarter reflected negative contributions from PCE, private inventory investment, nonresidential fixed investment, and exports that were partly offset by positive contributions from residential fixed investment, federal government spending, and state and local government spending.  Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, decreased.

The decrease in PCE reflected a decrease in services, led by health care as well as food services and accommodations.  The decrease in private inventory investment was mainly in nondurable goods manufacturing, led by petroleum and coal products.  The decrease in nonresidential fixed investment primarily reflected a decrease in equipment, led by transportation equipment.  The decrease in exports primarily reflected a decrease in services, led by travel.

Updates to GDP

In the second estimate, first-quarter real GDP decreased 5.0% from the fourth quarter, a downward revision of 0.2%. The revision primarily reflected a downward revision to private inventory investment that was partly offset by upward revisions to PCE and nonresidential fixed investment.

Three Update Releases to GDP
BEA releases 3 vintages of the current quarterly estimate for GDP:  "Advance" estimates are released near the end of the first month following the end of the quarter and are based on source data that are incomplete or subject to further revision by the source agency; “second” and “third” estimates are released near the end of the second and third months, respectively, and are based on more detailed and more comprehensive data as they become available.

*          *          *

(Next release, June 25, 2020 at 8:30 A.M. EDT
Gross Domestic Product, First Quarter 2020 (Third Estimate)



‘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 20 years of unemployment in the May “management, professional and related” types of worker category, you will find the following rates:

May 2019                    1.7%

May 2018                    1.7%

May 2017                    1.9%

May 2016                    2.1%

May 2015                    2.4%

May 2014                    3.1%

May 2013                    3.5%

May 2012                    4.0%

May 2011                    4.4%

May 2010                    4.5%

May 2009                    4.3%

May 2008                    2.6%

May 2007                    1.9%

May 2006                    2.0%

May 2005                    2.4%

May 2004                    2.8%

May 2003                    3.0%

May 2002                    3.1%

May 2001                    2.0%

May 2000                    1.8%

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

May 2019                    2.1%

May 2018                    2.0%

May 2017                    2.3%

May 2016                    2.4%

May 2015                    2.7%

May 2014                    3.2%

May 2013                    3.8%

May 2012                    3.9%

May 2011                    4.5%

May 2010                    4.6%

May 2009                    4.8%

May 2008                    2.3%

May 2007                    2.0%

May 2006                    2.1%

May 2005                    2.4%

May 2004                    2.9%

May 2003                    3.1%

May 2002                    3.0%

May 2001                    2.1%

May 2000                    1.6%

The May 2020 rates for these two categories, 6.6% and 7.4%, 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