BLS Analysis for Recruiters September 2021

Bob Marshall’s September 2021 BLS Analysis for Recruiters; 10/8/21

September BLS Preface

TBMG Coaching Updates and Product News:

Top Echelon Expert Recruiter Coaching Series, Tuesday, October 12th, 2021

One of the tightest markets for talent that we’ve ever witnessed…job candidates “ghosting” on employers at record rates…and more professionals seeking remote work and schedule flexibility than ever before.

These are all results of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.  And they all present unique challenges and obstacles to recruiters and the clients they represent in this “post-apocalyptic” employment world.

So, join me on Tuesday, October, when I present a special webinar in the Top Echelon Expert Recruiter Coaching Series.  I will explain how recruiters can meet the challenges and overcome the obstacles prevalent in today’s recruiting environment.

During this information-packed brand new presentation, I will address:

Although it’s not quite the end of the world many recruiters are acting like it is.

I would like you to join me to see where and how you can adapt your recruiting in today’s somewhat scary marketplace.

Please join me on October 12th and prep yourself for survival with “The Post-Apocalyptic Recruiter”!

Our new TBMG Training Program:

The New 2021 Elite Recruiter Masterclass (ERM) Training Program

Introducing the Elite Recruiter Masterclass, the online course you’ve been searching for is now open!


“It has been a difficult road this past year, but still, I look at every day as a new opportunity.”
-Bob Marshall

Wouldn’t it be great if you could break away from the daily recruiting grind and work only with the jobs and candidates that you know will make you money? No need to imagine it anymore because we have made it real for you. We are excited to share with you Bob Marshall’s Elite Recruiter Masterclass is now open for enrollment—engineered to answer the needs of professional recruiters just like you!

It’s true! The Elite Recruiter Masterclass, consists of everything you need to learn about becoming a top-earning recruiting professional. and how to find and retain the best clients and the top-quality job orders to build your own opportunities and shape your future to the exact direction you want.

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Best Regards,


Elite Recruiter Masterclass

The foundational coursework is now ready for new students.  The graduates will become:

*Successful learners of the material presented

*Confident recruitment professionals

*Responsible members of our profession

*Effective contributors who make placement earlier and more often

“The PDF Series – individual email format

1. “From Failure to Success in Recruitment Sales” – 6-part series

2. “John Wooden’s Success Pyramid” – 6-part series

3. “Robocruiter and The Total Account Executive” – 11-part series

4. “The Opportunity Cost in Not Quitting the Dead Horse Projects” – 11-part series

5. “The JOB ORDER” – 6-part series

6. “Planning for Your Best Year Ever in 2020 – The ‘Atomic’ Approach” – 7-part series

7. “The Importance of Marketing – Facing the Monster” – 13-part series

8. “Negotiating Techniques Adapted for the Tenured Recruiter” – 13-part series

9. “Classic Closes for 2021” – 8-part series

10. “Retained Recruiting in 2021” – 6-part series

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.

89% of Professional are Suffering from Burnout

Daily News, October 5, 2021

Burnout is pervasive, according to a survey released last week by Korn Ferry.  It found that 89% of professionals say they are suffering from burnout with 38% saying they are burned out to a great extent.

And professionals are more burned out now than at the start of the pandemic, with 81% saying that is the case.  Top reasons for burnout include increased workload/not enough resources, cited by 64%, and continual change, cited by 20%.

“As Covid cases continue to surge, many of us are being asked to do more with fewer resources and less help, and that’s taking a toll,” said Mark Royal, Korn Ferry senior director and engagement specialist.  “Leaders must not only work with their teams to help prioritize responsibilities, they also need to take care of themselves.”

When asked to describe how they currently feel when they think about work, only 11% of professionals said they are content or energized while 70% say they are anxious and stressed.  Prior to the pandemic, only 27% said they were anxious or stressed when thinking about work.

On the other hand, 66% said there is now more emphasis on employee well-being than pre-pandemic, although just 45% said there is now greater emphasis on leader well-being.

The survey included 672 professionals and took place last month.

Delta Variant Tempers ‘Blockbuster’ Economic Growth: University of California Los Angeles Forecast

Daily News, September 29, 2021

Hopes for blockbuster economic growth in the US have been tempered by the spread of the Covid-19 Delta variant, according to the University of California Los Angeles Anderson Forecast released today.

The Delta variant has led to consumer caution and supply constraints, according to the forecast. Still, the next few years should feature solid, but unspectacular growth.  And the report predicts gradual gains in employment over the next several quarters instead of the monthly gain of more than 1,000,000 jobs previously forecast.

Previous UCLA Anderson Forecast reports had pointed to a strong recovery as the Covid-19 vaccines became widely available and case rates went down.  Vaccination rates have plateaued since the last forecast report in June and the Delta variant has quickly spread.

“What makes this growth ‘ho-hum’ is the comparison to what could have been if, globally, we had gotten Covid under control and had been able to transform pent-up demand, pent-up savings and a tremendous amount of government support into faster economic growth,” Leo Feler, UCLA Anderson senior economist, wrote in the forecast report released today.

Feler also noted the US economy remains down 5,300,000 payroll jobs from its pre-Covid peak, and there’s little evidence to suggest the expiration of enhanced unemployment benefits will lead to a surge in job applications.

“The forecast is for more gradual gains in employment over the next several quarters,” he wrote.  “We are no longer forecasting average monthly gains over 1,000,000.  Going forward, we are forecasting average monthly gains of 330,000 in the near term, declining to 170,000 by the end of 2023.”

The UCLA Anderson Forecast estimate for average annual GDP growth for this year is 5.6%, down from the 7.1% predicted in the previous report in June.

For 2022, GDP growth is expected to be 4.1%, down from the previous projection of 5.0%.

However, the report raised predicted GDP growth for 2023 to 3.1% from the June prediction of 2.2%.

GDP Forecast Cools, but US Jobs Projections Hold Steady with Return to Pre-Covid Levels by End of 2022

Daily News, September 27, 2021

The forecast for growth in US gross domestic product cooled, but projections for jobs held steady, according to the “Outlook” survey report released today by the National Association for Business Economics.  Job levels are forecast to return to pre-Covid levels by end of next year.

Of the 47 professional forecasters surveyed for today’s report, the median forecast for real GDP called for a 4.0% annualized growth rate in this quarter, the third quarter.  That’s down from the forecast of 6.2% growth in the previous NABE survey released in May.  It’s also down from the second quarter’s actual growth rate of 6.6%.

“NABE Outlook survey panelists have moderated their expectations about the prospects for economic growth in 2021 since May,” said NABE President-elect David Altig, executive VP and director of research, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.  “The panel’s view has become more tempered about 2021 as a whole, as its median real GDP growth estimate for 2021 is 5.6%, compared to the 6.7% forecasted in the May 2021 survey.”

When it comes to jobs, 67% of survey respondents anticipate nonfarm payrolls will return to pre-Covid levels by the end of 2022.  That is similar to the 66% who said the same in the previous survey in May.

Other jobs forecast findings:

  • No consensus on labor shortage: 44% of panelists indicated their companies were not experiencing a labor shortage while 35% said they were. 21% were not sure.
  • Panelists now expect monthly nonfarm payrolls in 2021 to increase by an average of 558,000, down from the 566,000 anticipated in the May survey.  Employment growth is not expected to be as strong in 2022 as in 2021; the median forecast calls for 321,000 net new jobs per month — approximately 14% higher than the 281,000 expected in the May survey.
  • Panelists expect the US unemployment rate to decline steadily through 2022, reaching 4.0% in the fourth quarter of 2022.
  • Nonfarm business compensation per hour is projected to increase by 4.0% this year and is expected to slow to 3.5% in 2022.

NABE’s survey also looked at inflation.

“Inflation expectations have moved up significantly from those in the May 2021 survey,” added Survey Chair Holly Wade, executive director, NFIB Research Center, “but panelists anticipate inflation will ease in 2022.”

Hiring Right Talent is Greatest Challenge for Small Businesses; Top Issue is Need to Raise Wages

Daily News, September 22, 2021

Hiring the right talent is the No. 1 challenge for 63.4% of small businesses, according to survey data released by the Score, an organization — funded in part by the US Small Business Administration — that matches volunteer mentors who have entrepreneurship experience with business owners.  In addition, 61.2% reported unfilled job openings.

“Workers are leaving their jobs in record numbers due to lack of childcare, low wages, fear of Covid-19, long commutes, and changing values and priorities,” said Betsy Dougert, VP of external relations for Score.

Specific issues making hiring difficult now include the need to raise wages, cited by 54.7%, followed by inability to find qualified applicants, 53.0%, and general lack of applicants, 48.9%.

In a similar survey by Score in 2017, only 26.2% of businesses cited the need to raise salary as making hiring difficult.

This year’s Score survey took place from July 9 through July 26 and was completed by 1,712 entrepreneurs who were contacted from a list of 16,265 who agreed to be contacted for research.

Hot Wage Growth Likely to Cool by End of Year, but Surge Again by 2023: The Conference Board

Daily News, September 15, 2021

Wages this year in the US have increased at the fastest pace in more than 20 years, fueled by a rapid economic reopening in the wake of Covid-19 vaccinations, according to a new report released by The Conference Board.

The report, “Why Wages Are Growing Rapidly Now — And Will Continue to in the Future,” maps out 3 distinct phases for wage growth in the US through 2022 and beyond.

Spring and summer 2021.  Wages and salaries for private industry workers rose at an annualized rate of 4.3% over the 6-month period ended June 2021 — much higher than the average rate of 2% to 3% over the past 2 decades.

Heated wage growth continued through summer 2021, especially for blue-collar and manual services jobs.  These workers were in high demand as the economy reopened, even as pandemic concerns such as fear of infection and lack of childcare continued to keep many out of the workforce.

Faster wage growth could have a significant impact on consumer and producer price inflation.  If higher costs are passed through to consumers, this could lead to a longer period of high inflation.

Late 2021 through 2022.  Wage growth should cool heading into 2022, settling closer to an average of 2.5% to 3% by next year.

This cooldown reflects the resolution of demand-and-supply mismatches as more workers reenter the labor market.  However, another significant wave of coronavirus infections that limits in-person instruction in schools could reduce the willingness to work among some unemployed persons and delay the beginning of the slowdown in wages.

The acceleration in wages for new hires in 2021 could lead to a unique situation, where new hires earn more than current employees with more experience.  Such inequity could lead to higher labor turnover of more experienced workers, who can easily find new jobs at higher wages in this tight labor market.

Inflation is emerging as a downside risk for employers.  After being a non-issue in wage determination for several decades, strong inflation in 2021, and perhaps 2022 — if households’ long-term expectations rise — is likely to push wages higher.  In a more extreme and less likely scenario, high inflation and severe labor shortages could lead to a wage-price spiral, where higher prices and wages feed each other, leading to faster growth in both.

2023 and beyond.  Wages will grow rapidly in some occupations in 2023 and onward, most notably in blue-collar and manual services industries.  Historically strong job growth from 2021 to 2022 is likely to significantly lower the unemployment rate.  If history is any guide, this trend is likely to continue until the next recession, which could occur 5 to 10 years from now.

Blue-collar and manual services will again reap significant rewards, as the shrinking of working-age Americans without college degrees curtails the long-term supply of workers in these fields.

The pace of automation will shape how rapidly employment grows, and the unemployment rate dropping depends partly on the rate of automation.  Ultimately, more automation will reduce the demand for labor and delay a decline in the unemployment rate.

The shift to remote work will significantly impact not only how we work, but also how wage trends develop in the near term.  Employers operating in expensive labor markets may be able to lower overall labor costs by hiring more workers in cheaper US labor markets or abroad.  Moreover, many companies are likely to have flexible wage structures allowing differentiation in compensation across regions.

More Than One-Third Quitting Over Revoked Remote Work Policies

Daily News, September 13, 2021

Employees place a high value on remote work, and 44% know at least one person that has quit or is planning to quit because their employers are requiring them to return to the office, according to a survey released today by FlexJobs.

29% are actively looking for a new job because they want to work remotely, while 17% have quit a job because it did not offer remote work options.

The survey also found 21% would give up some vacation time, and nearly a quarter, 24%, would take a 10% to 20% cut in pay in order to work remotely as much as they want.

Post-pandemic, 58% prefer a fully remote job, and 39% want a hybrid arrangement that combines both office and remote work; only 3% report wanting to return to the office full-time.

However, 42% report that post-pandemic, their employers will require them to be in the physical office; 27% will have hybrid work arrangements and 17% will be fully remote.  The remaining 14% were unsure of their company’s plans.

The survey also found that toxic culture is the No. 2 reason people would not apply, not accept or quit a job, second only to a low salary.

Poor communication from leadership was the biggest mistake made by employers during the pandemic, as well as not fully understanding the stress of work-life conflicts during the quarantine 

The survey was conducted from July 21 to Aug. 9; it included more than 4,600 respondents.

The new ADP/Moody’s National Employment Report: Nearly 31% of all new job growth in September 2021 came from Small and Medium-size Companies!

October 6, 2021

Private sector employment increased by 568,000 jobs from August to September according to the September 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 data of those who are on a company’s payroll, 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 August total of jobs added was revised from

374,000 to 340,000.

Total U.S. Nonfarm Private Employment:             568,000

By Company Size

Small businesses:                                    63,000

1-19 employees                                        20,000

20-49 employees                                      43,000

Medium businesses:                             115,000

50-499 employees                                  115,000

Large businesses:                                 390,000

500-999 employees                                   36,000

1,000+ employees                                   354,000

By Sector

I.  Goods-producing:                                            102,000

A.  Natural resources/mining                                                   7,000

B.  Construction                                                                      46,000

C.  Manufacturing                                                                   49,000

II.  Service-providing:                                         466,000

A.  Trade/transportation/utilities                                              54,000

B.  Information                                                                        11,000

C.  Financial activities                                                                         22,000

D.  Professional/business services                                           61,000

                        1.  Professional/technical services                               35,000

                        2.  Management of companies/enterprises                     3,000

                        3.  Administrative/support services                             24,000

            E.  Education/health services                                                   66,000

                        1.  Health care/social assistance                                   43,000

                        2.  Education                                                                22,000

            F.  Leisure/hospitality                                                            226,000

            G.  Other services                                                                     28,000

Franchise Employment

Franchise Jobs                                     25,800

“The labor market recovery continues to make progress despite a marked slowdown from the 748,000 job pace in the second quarter,” said Nela Richardson, chief economist, ADP.  “Leisure and hospitality remains one of the biggest beneficiaries to the recovery, yet hiring is still heavily impacted by the trajectory of the pandemic, especially for small firms.  Current bottlenecks in hiring should fade as the health conditions tied to the COVID-19 variant continue to improve, setting the stage for solid job gains in the coming months.”

(The October 2021 ADP National Employment Report will be released at 8:15 a.m. ET on November 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.

September 2021 Small Business Report Highlights

Total Small Business Employment:             63,000

●By Size  
►1-19 employees 20,000
►20-49 employees 43,000
●By Sector for 1-49 Employees  
►Goods Producing 24,000
►Service Producing 39,000
●By Sector for 1-19 Employees  
►Goods Producing 11,000
►Service Producing 9,000
●By Sector for 20-49 Employees  
►Goods Producing 14,000
►Service Producing 30,000

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 Summary – July 2021

September 8, 2021  

The number of job openings increased to a series high of 10,900,000 on the last business day of July, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.  Hires and total separations were little changed at 6,700,000 and 5,800,000, respectively.  Within separations, the quits rate was unchanged at 2.7% while the layoffs and discharges rate was little changed at 1.0%.  This release includes estimates of the number and rate of job openings, hires, and separations for the total nonfarm sector, by industry, by 4 geographic regions, and by establishment size class.

Job Openings

On the last business day of July, the number and rate of job openings increased to series highs of 10,900,000 (+749,000) and 6.9%, respectively.  Job openings increased in several industries, with the largest increases in health care and social assistance (+294,000); finance and insurance (+116,000); and accommodation and food services (+115,000).  The number of job openings increased in the Northeast, South, and West regions.


In July, the number and rate of hires were little changed at 6,700,000 and 4.5%, respectively.  Hires decreased in retail trade (-277,000), durable goods manufacturing

(-41,000), and educational services (-23,000).  The number of hires increased in state and local government education (+33,000) and in federal government (+21,000).  The number of hires was little changed in all 4 regions.


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 July, the number and rate of total separations were little changed at 5,800,000 and 3.9%, respectively.  The total separations level decreased in transportation, warehousing, and utilities (-43,000) and in federal government (-9,000).  Total separations increased in the Northeast region.

The number of quits was little changed in July at 4,000,000.  The quits rate was unchanged at 2.7%.  Quits increased in wholesale trade (+34,000) and in state and local government education (+14,000).  Quits decreased in transportation, warehousing, and utilities (-25,000) and in federal government (-5,000).  The number of quits was little changed in all 4 regions.

In July, the number and rate of layoffs and discharges were little changed at 1,500,000 and 1.0%, respectively.  Layoffs and discharges increased in professional and business services (+107,000).  Layoffs and discharges were little changed in all 4 regions.

The number of other separations was little changed in July at 350,000.  Other separations decreased in health care and social assistance (-16,000), information (-6,000), and real estate and rental and leasing (-5,000).  The other separations level decreased in the West 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 July, hires totaled 72,600,000 and separations totaled 65,600,000, yielding a net employment gain of 7,000,000.  These totals include workers who may have been hired and separated more than once during the year.

Establishment Size Class

In July, the job openings rate increased in medium establishments with 50-249 employees and decreased in large establishments with 5,000 or more employees.  The hires rate decreased in large establishments with 5,000 or more employees.  The total separations rate decreased in large establishments with 5,000 or more employees.  The other separations rate decreased in large establishments with 250-999 employees and 1,000-4,999 employees.


The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey estimates for August 2021 are scheduled to be released on Tuesday, October 12, 2021, at 10:00 a.m. (ET).

As we recruiters know that 10,900,000 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 10,900,000 published job openings now become a total of 54,500,000 published AND hidden job orders.



Online Labor Demand Falls in August

September 8, 2021

The Conference Board®-Burning Glass® Help Wanted OnLine® (HWOL) Index fell in August and now stands at 154.0 (July 2018=100), down from 156.2 in July.  The 1.4% decrease between July and August follows a 2.0% increase between June and July.  Overall, the Index is up 57.0% 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 September 2021 is Wednesday, October 13th at 10 AM.

U-6 Update

In September 2021, the regular unemployment rate fell .4% to 4.8% and the broader U-6 measure fell .3% to 8.5%.  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 8.5% 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 September U-6 numbers for the previous 18 years:

September 2020                      12.8%

September 2019                      6.9%

September 2018                      7.5%

September 2017                      8.3%

September 2016                      9.7%

September 2015                      10.0%

September 2014                      11.7%

September 2013                      13.6%

September 2012                      14.7%

September 2011                      16.4%

September 2010                      17.1%

September 2009                      17.0%

September 2008                      11.2%

September 2007                      8.4%

September 2006                      8.0%

September 2005                      9.0%

September 2004                      9.4%

September 2003                      10.4%

The September 2021 BLS Analysis

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 194,000 in September, and the unemployment rate declined by 0.4% to 4.8%, the U.S. bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.  Notable job gains occurred in leisure and hospitality, in professional and business services, in retail trade, and in transportation and warehousing.  Employment in public education declined over the month.
The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for July was revised up by 38,000, from +1,053,000 to +1,091,000, and the change for August was revised up by 131,000, from +235,000 to +366,000.  With these revisions, employment in July and August combined is 169,000 higher 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 October 8th, 2021, the BLS published the most recent unemployment rate for September 2021 of 4.8% (actually, it is 4.756% down 0.434% from 5.190% in August.

The unemployment rate was determined by dividing the unemployed of 7,674,000

(–down from the month before by 710,000—since September 2020, this number has decreased by 6,137,000) by the total civilian labor force of 161,354,000 (down by 183,000 from August 2020).  Since September 2020, our total civilian labor force has increased by 1,276,000 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 increased this total to 261,766,000.  This is an increase of 155,000 from last month’s increase of 142,000.  In one year, this population has increased by 1,024,000.  For the last 3 years the Civilian Noninstitutional Population has increased each month—except in December 2016, December 2018, December 2019, & December 2020—by…)

Up from August 2021by155,000
Up from July 2021by142,000
Up from June 2021by131,000
Up from May 2021by128,000
Up from April 2021by107,000
Up from March 2021by100,000
Up from February 2021by85,000
Up from January 2021by67,000
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

This month the BLS has increased the Civilian Labor Force to 161,354,000 (down from July by 183,000, mainly due to the continuing slow reopening of the economy).

Subtract the second number (‘civilian labor force’) from the first number (‘civilian noninstitutional population’) and you get 100,412,000 ‘Not in Labor Force’—up by 338,000 from last month’s 100,074,000.  In one year, this NILF population has decreased by 252,000.  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 .1% to 61.6%.  This ‘reopening’ rate is .8% 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 September was 2.4% (this rate was .8% lower than last month’s 3.2%).  Or you can look at it another way.  We usually place people who have college degrees.  That unemployment rate in September was2.5% (this rate was .3% lower than last month’s 2.8%).

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 September 30th, the real gross domestic product (GDP) increased at an annual rate of 6.7% in the second quarter of 2021, according to the “third” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis.  In the first quarter, real GDP increased 6.3%.

The “third” estimate of GDP released today is based on more complete source data than were available for the “second” estimate issued last month.  In the second estimate, the increase in real GDP was 6.6%.  Upward revisions to personal consumption expenditures (PCE), exports, and private inventory investment were partly offset by an upward revision to imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP.

COVID-19 Impact on the Second-Quarter 2021 GDP Estimate

The increase in second quarter GDP reflected the continued economic recovery, reopening of establishments, and continued government response related to the COVID-19 pandemic.  In the second quarter, government assistance payments in the form of loans to businesses and grants to state and local governments increased, while social benefits to households, such as the direct economic impact payments, declined.  The full economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic cannot be quantified in the GDP estimate for the second quarter because the impacts are generally embedded in source data and cannot be separately identified.

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

The increase in PCE reflected increases in services (led by food services and accommodations) and goods (led by “other” nondurable goods, notably pharmaceutical products, as well as clothing and footwear).  The increase in nonresidential fixed investment reflected increases in equipment (led by transportation equipment) and intellectual property products (led by software as well as research and development).  The increase in exports reflected increases in goods (led by nonautomotive capital goods) and in services (led by travel).  The decrease in private inventory investment was led by a decrease in retail trade inventories.  The decrease in federal government spending primarily reflected a decrease in nondefense spending on intermediate goods and services. 

In the second quarter, nondefense services decreased as the processing and administration of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan applications by banks on behalf of the federal government declined.

Updates to GDP

In the third estimate for the second quarter, real GDP increased 6.7%, an upward revision of 0.%.  The revision primarily reflected upward revisions to PCE, exports, private inventory investment, that were partly offset by an upward revision to imports and downward revisions to residential fixed investment, state and local government spending, and federal government spending.

Real GDP by Industry

Today’s release includes estimates of GDP by industry, or value added—a measure of an industry’s contribution to GDP.  In the second quarter, private goods-producing industries increased 4.7%, private services-producing industries increased 7.8%, and government increased 3.4%.  Overall, 19 of 22 industry groups contributed to the second-quarter increase in real GDP.

The increase in private goods-producing industries primarily reflected increases in nondurable goods manufacturing (led by petroleum and coal products), construction, and durable goods manufacturing (led by other transportation equipment).

The increase in private services-producing industries primarily reflected increases in accommodation and food services; information (led by data processing, internet publishing, and other information services); professional, scientific, and technical services; real estate and rental and leasing; and healthcare and social assistance (led by ambulatory health care services).  These increases were partly offset by a decrease in retail trade (led by motor vehicle and parts dealers).

The increase in government mainly reflected an increase in state and local government.

Gross Output by Industry

Real gross output—principally a measure of an industry’s sales or receipts, which includes sales to final users in the economy (GDP) and sales to other industries (intermediate inputs)—increased 5.5% in the second quarter.  Private services-producing industries increased 9.5%, while private goods- producing industries decreased 2.5% and government decreased 1.6%.  Overall, 14 of 22 industry groups contributed to the increase in real gross output.

Annual Update of the Industry Economic Accounts

The industry estimates released today reflect the results of the 2021 Annual Update of the Industry Economic Accounts (IEAs).  The update covers 1999 through the first quarter of 2021.  The reference year remains 2012.  Today’s update incorporates the results from the 2021 Annual Update of the National Income and Product Accounts (NIPAs) which included improvements for housing services and financial services.

This update includes several improvements that better align the IEAs and the NIPAs.  Estimates of industry gross operating surplus were improved for the most recent year by making more direct use of GDI by industry data; estimates for motor vehicle and parts manufacturers were better aligned with NIPA motor vehicle output by using the same underlying Wards Intelligence data; and estimates for utilities were changed to rely directly on quantity data from the Energy Information Administration, consistent with estimates of utilities in PCE services.

*          *          *

Next release, October 28, 2021, at 8:30 A.M. EDT
Gross Domestic Product, Third Quarter 2021 (Advance 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, workers in most states are eligible for up to 26 weeks of benefits from the regular state-funded unemployment compensation program, although seven states provide fewer weeks and one provides more.  Extended Benefits (EB) have triggered on in 14 states plus the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands.  Additional weeks of federal benefits are also available through September 6, 2021.

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 September “management, professional and related” types of worker category, you will find the following rates:

September 2020                      4.5%

September 2019                      1.9%

September 2018                      2.0%

September 2017                      2.3%

September 2016                      2.7%

September 2015                      2.4%

September 2014                      2.8%

September 2013                      3.5%

September 2012                      3.9%

September 2011                      4.4%

September 2010                      4.4%

September 2009                      5.2%

September 2008                      2.8%

September 2007                      2.1%

September 2006                      2.1%

September 2005                      2.3%

September 2004                      2.5%

September 2003                      3.2%

September 2002                      3.3%

September 2001                      2.4%

September 2000                      1.8%

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

September 2020                      4.8%

September 2019                      2.0%

September 2018                      2.0%

September 2017                      2.2%

September 2016                      2.5%

September 2015                      2.5%

September 2014                      2.9%

September 2013                      3.7%

September 2012                      4.0%

September 2011                      4.2%

September 2010                      4.5%

September 2009                      4.8%

September 2008                      2.6%

September 2007                      2.0%

September 2006                      2.0%

September 2005                      2.3%

September 2004                      2.6%

September 2003                      3.2%

September 2002                      2.9%

September 2001                      2.5%

September 2000                      1.9%

The September 2021 rates for these two categories, 2.4% and 2.5%, 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