BLS Analysis for Recruiters March 2021

Bob Marshall’s March 2021 BLS Analysis for Recruiters; 4/2/21

March BLS Preface

TBMG Coaching Updates and Product News:

The New 2021 Elite Recruiter Masterclass (ERM) Training Program

Stay tuned as we finish downloading the curriculum that will make up our new training program.  In this course, we have constructed our studies to resemble a college with the basic freshman and sophomore course work separated from the more advanced junior and senior course work.  I will fill the role of professor through the total content of the program that will confer Elite Recruiter status upon completion.

The foundational coursework will be ready for new students as early as May with the advanced curriculum a few weeks later.

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

We will begin accepting a limited number of students now with a class start date in May 2021.  Contact us for details @ 770-898-5550 or

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

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

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

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

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

Our new TBMG products:

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

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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

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.

IBM’s CEO predicts a hybrid remote-work model for 80% of employees post-pandemic

Tyler Sonnemaker, March 31, 2021

IBM is joining the growing list of tech companies planning to take a flexible approach to remote work even after the pandemic, though it does have concerns about how the strategy could impact its company culture.

IBM CEO Arvind Krishna told Bloomberg’s Emily Chang on Wednesday, 80% of the company’s employees may stay in hybrid roles indefinitely, spending “at least 3 days a week, maybe not all 8 to 10 hours, but at least some fraction of those 3 days, in the office.”

Krishna said 10% to 20% of employees could potentially stay fully remote, but that he worried “about what’s their career trajectory going to be.”

“If they want to become a people manager, if they want to get increasing responsibilities or if they want to build a culture within their teams, how are we going to do that remotely?” Krishna told Bloomberg.

IBM’s HR chief, Nickle LaMoreaux, had told Insider in February that most employees would need to come into the office “from time to time,” but that few would need to come in 5 days a week.

Currently, Krishna told Bloomberg, IBM has around 15% of its global workforce coming into the office “some” of the time, while “about 5% never went home.”

Regardless, Krishna added, the transition to a long-term hybrid model “is not going to happen overnight,” adding that parents can stay fully remote until schools reopen.

IBM is also planning to scale back its brick-and-mortar footprint as it plans for employees spending less time in the office, cutting a significant portion of the 70,000,000 square feet of office space and 1,000 locations it had before the pandemic, according to Bloomberg.

“I would imagine that we will get rid of tens of millions,” Krishna told Bloomberg, referring to square feet of office space. “Are we going to go toward zero, absolutely not.  Will we have over half of what we had, most likely.”

IBM was a pioneer in the work-from-home revolution before it largely abandoned the policy in 2017, but the company is pivoting again as others in its industry rethink how and where people will work post-pandemic.

Twitter and Salesforce are among some of the tech firms embracing a more remote workforce for the foreseeable future, while GoogleAmazonFacebook, and Uber recently announced plans to start bringing employees back to their corporate headquarters (though many of these companies’ frontline workers were never granted permission to work from home or faced disparate healthcare and paid leave or remote work policies that prevented them from doing so).

CIO Survey: 55% Plan to Increase Number of Full-Time IT Employees

Daily News, March 31, 2021

More than half of CIOs, 55%, plan to increase their total number of full-time employees in IT this year, according to a survey from Gartner Inc.

“The critical role IT played across most firms’ response to the pandemic appears to have had a positive impact on IT staffing plans,” said Matthew Charlet, research VP at Gartner.  “The initial pessimism around the 2021 talent situation that many CIOs expressed mid-2020 has since dwindled.”

Security operations ranked as a top area for adding full-time staff with 74% of CIOs surveyed planning to increase their staff by at least 2%.

Next highest were analytics platforms such as PowerBI and Tableau, where 73% plan to add staff.  Business workflow automation followed with 71% adding staff.

“While CIOs plan to hire more staff in several areas critical to meeting changed consumer and employee expectations, most will not be able to meet their planned talent strategy goals without also upskilling or refocusing their existing teams,” Charlet said.

Gartner’s survey took place between November and December 2020 and included 184 CIOs in North America, EMEA and APAC.

Government revises 4th quarter GDP up slightly to 4.3%

Martin Crutsinger, AP Economics Writer, March 25, 2021

The U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of 4.3% in the final three months of 2020, slightly faster than previously estimated, as recovery expectations for 2021 rise along with vaccinations as the U.S. unleashes nearly $2 trillion in government support

WASHINGTON — The U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of 4.3% in the final 3 months of 2020, slightly faster than previously estimated, as recovery expectations for 2021 rise along with vaccinations as the U.S. unleashes nearly $2 trillion in government support.

GDP in the October-December quarter rose from an estimate last month of an 4.1% rate.  The upward revision reflected stronger inventory restocking by businesses.

For the whole year, the GDP shrank by 3.5%, the largest annual decline since a plunge of 11.6% in 1946 when the U.S. demobilized after World War II.  The 3.5% drop was unchanged from the previous report.

Economists are looking for a huge rebound this year, helped by government support packages including a $1.9 trillion package signed by President Joe Biden on March 11 that is delivering $1,400 payments to individuals, extending emergency unemployment until early September and providing billions of dollars in relief to state and local governments.

Economists believe all the government relief measures will boost GDP in the current January-March quarter to 5% or higher.  They are forecasting growth for the entire year of around 6%, which would the strongest performance since 1984 when the economy was coming out of a deep recession during the Reagan administration.

“The economy is poised for robust growth,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics.  He pointed to what he called a “potpourri of help including substantial stimulus checks, more unemployment insurance, rental, childcare and food assistance and aid to small businesses, airlines, schools and state and local governments.”

US Leading Economic Index Rises in February, Signaling Recovery Should Pick Up Steam

Daily News, March 18, 2021

Economic recovery in the US should pick up steam, according to The Conference Board Leading Economic Index for the US.  The measure rose 0.2% in February to a level of 110.5.

“The US [Leading Economic Index] continued rising in February, suggesting economic growth should continue well into this year,” said Ataman Ozyildirim, senior director of economic research at The Conference Board.  “Indeed, the acceleration of the vaccination campaign and a new round of large fiscal supports are not yet fully reflected in the [Leading Economic Index].  With those developments, The Conference Board now expects the pace of growth to improve even further this year, with the US economy expanding by 5.5% in 2021.”

Ozyildirim noted some leading indicators showed signs of weakness amid impacts from bad weather and supply chain disruptions in February, but the effects may prove transitory.

In January, the index had risen by 0.5%; December’s increase was 0.4%.

UCLA Forecast Projects 6.1% Growth in 2021 After Worst Annual GDP Decline in 60 Years

Daily News, March 12, 2021

US real gross domestic product fell by 3.5% in 2020 amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the worst annual decline in 60 years, according to the quarterly University of California Los Angeles Anderson Forecast.  However, the forecast estimates 6.3% growth in real GDP in 2021.

In addition, it estimates GDP growth of 4.6% in 2022 and 2.7% in 2023.

“For the economy, a waning pandemic combined with fiscal relief means a strong year of growth in 2021 — one of the strongest years of growth in the last 60 years — followed by sustained higher growth rates in 2022 and 2023,” UCLA Anderson Senior Economist Leo Feler wrote in an essay.

The Anderson Forecast also projects the US unemployment rate will average 5.2% in the fourth quarter of this year.  Projected rates in future years are 4.1% in the fourth quarter of 2022 and 3.7% in the fourth quarter of 2023.

“Recovering labor force participation will slow the decline in the unemployment rate as workers who exited the labor force, including those who left for childcare and home-schooling responsibilities, reenter and begin looking for work,” according to the forecast.

The forecast noted the economic damage in 2020 could have been much worse without government action such as the Paycheck Protection Program, extended unemployment insurance and stimulus checks.

IT Jobs continue Rebound in February, Still Not Back to Pre-COVID levels

Daily News, March 12, 2021

IT employment continued its rebound in February, but remains down from pre-Covid levels, the TechServe Alliance reported Thursday.

“With 7 consecutive months of strong growth, IT employment is less than 1% below pre-Covid levels,” TechServe Alliance CEO Mark Roberts said.  “While the economic fallout from Covid-19 temporarily reduced demand in some skill sets, strong job growth over the last few months highlights our chronic long-term problem — a talent shortage in IT.”

IT jobs in the US rose by 0.43% in February to a total of nearly 5,300,000.  Still, they were down 0.9% since February 2020 — a decrease of 48,100 IT jobs.

The TechServe Alliance is a national trade association of the IT and engineering staffing and solutions industry.

It also reported that engineering employment rose by 0.12% to nearly 2,600,000 jobs in February.  It, too, was down year over year — engineering employment was down 3.01%, representing a loss of 80,200 jobs.

US Employers Optimistic, 52% Expect Pre-Pandemic Hiring Before End of Year: ManpowerGroup

Daily News, March 9, 2021

More than half of US employers, 52%, expect hiring will return to pre-pandemic levels before the end of 2021, according to the ManpowerGroup Employment Outlook Survey released today by ManpowerGroup.

ManpowerGroup’s report, which looks ahead to the second quarter, also showed improved sentiment compared to the depths of the Covid crisis.

“The American workforce and labor market is resilient, and we have a silver lining in sight with the vaccine rollout boosting optimism for the months ahead,” said Becky Frankiewicz, president of ManpowerGroup North America.

ManpowerGroup’s survey asked more than 7,500 employers in the US “how do you anticipate total employment at your location to change in the three months to the end of June 2021 compared to the current quarter?”

23% said they plan to increase hiring, 4% plan to decrease, 70% reported no change and 3% didn’t know, which resulted in a net employment outlook of 19%.  It becomes a net employment outlook of 18% when adjusted for seasonality.  

That compares to 19% for the report looking to the second quarter of 2020, which was produced just before the crisis; amid the pandemic, the employment outlook had plummeted to a seasonally adjusted basis to 3% in the report for the third quarter of 2020.  It has improved since then.

By industry, the highest seasonally adjusted net employment outlooks were in leisure and hospitality at 27%; transportation and utilities at 23%; wholesale and retail trade at 22%; and manufacturing – nondurable goods at 20%.

“It’s encouraging to see positive outlooks reported in leisure and hospitality and retail, particularly as this week we mark International Women’s Day and roles in these industries are predominantly held by women,” Frankiewicz said.

Other findings in the report included:

  • The metro area with the highest seasonally adjusted net employment outlook was Madison, Wisconsin, at 38%
  • 48% of employers have no plans to mandate vaccinations, 17% will encourage by promoting the benefits, 4% plan to require employees to be vaccinated and 31% are undecided.

ManpowerGroup’s survey did not just include the US, it took place in 43 countries.

Canada had a seasonally adjusted net employment outlook of 8% while the reading for Mexico is 7%.

Employment Trends Index Pointing to Strong Jobs Growth

Daily News, March 8, 2021

The Conference Board Employment Trend Index now signals strong jobs growth ahead.  The index reading for February, released today, stands at 101.01, up from an upwardly revised reading of 99.69 in January.

Some 5,000,000 to 6,000,000 jobs could be added through the end of the year, and the unemployment rate will drop well below 5%, said Gad Levanon, head of The Conference Board Labor Markets Institute.

“The combination of declining new infections, lower pandemic-related restrictions, households flush with savings, and large government stimulus will all contribute to robust growth in economic activity and employment in 2021,” Levanon said.

Still, concerns remain.  Levanon cautioned that when the pandemic hit, a tight labor market appeared years away.  However, the current forecast is that it may reemerge as soon as 2022.

80% Satisfied with Remote Work Despite Higher Workloads, Lack of Social Interaction

Daily News, March 8, 2021

As Covid-19 nears the one-year mark, Infosys Ltd. reported a majority of US workers, 80%, said they are very or somewhat satisfied with remote work despite higher workloads and a lack of social interaction with colleagues.  The information comes from a survey of employees and managers at US-based companies by Infosys and the Milken Institute.

Women were slightly more satisfied with remote work than men; 93% of women said they were satisfied compared to 88% of men.

However, 82% of manager said their employees are working more than they were before the pandemic, with more than half saying that they work “a lot” more.

Income inequality also appears as an issue with remote work.  The survey found that 69% of those with an income below $50,000 per year said they saw increased remote work opportunities since Covid-19, compared to 86% of those making more than $75,000 per year.

With the ability to hire workers beyond where companies physically operate, some firms have used the opportunity to double down on diversity and inclusion.

The survey also found an increased focus on skills training with more than half of respondents citing training some form as a benefit of remote work.

54% Say Working from Home Boosts Mental Health, Few Favor Full-Time Return to Office: CHG

Daily News, February 24, 2021

Working from home during the pandemic has brought change — more than half say it improved their mental health — but returning to the office is raising questions as well.  Healthcare staffing firm CHG Healthcare surveyed more than 850 US workers to get their thoughts.  In addition to the mental health question, it found many are interested in hybrid office/work-from-home arrangements going forward and relatively few are interested in going back to the office on a full-time basis.

“CHG Healthcare is one of many US companies that chose to move all employees out of our offices and into their homes back in March of 2020,” said Kevin Ricklefs, chief culture officer at CHG Healthcare.  “We are still determining what returning to the office will look like for our organization and know other companies are in the same boat.”

Among the findings, 54% say working from home during the Covid-19 pandemic has improved their mental health.  This compares to 26% who say working from home has had a negative impact while 39% said working from home resulted in no change to their mental health.

Of those who say working from home negatively affected their mental health, 82% believe returning to the office will improve it.

The survey also found that when offices reopen, 54% of respondents indicated they are interested in a hybrid in-office/work-from-home schedule.  Nearly 32% have no interest in returning the office, and only 9% want to go back to the office full-time.

Safety measures are also important; 79% want employers to enforce extended time away from the office when an employee falls ill.  And 17% want other increased safety measures, including masks, spacing between employees and limited social gatherings.

In addition, 44% prefer their employer require employees to be vaccinated before returning to the office, while 33% don’t think the vaccination should be required before returning and 23% don’t have an opinion.

The new ADP/Moody’s National Employment Report: Over 70% of all new job growth in March 2021 came from Small and Medium-size Companies!

March 31, 2021

Private sector employment increased by 517,000 jobs from February to March according to the March ADP National Employment Report.  Broadly distributed to the public each month, free of charge, the ADP NER is produced by the ADP Research Institute in collaboration with Moody’s Analytics.  The report, which is derived from ADP’s actual payroll data, measures the change in total nonfarm private employment each month on a seasonally-adjusted basis.

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

117,000 to 176,000.

Total U.S. Nonfarm Private Employment:             517,000

By Company Size

Small businesses:                                174,000

1-19 employees                                    100,000

20-49 employees                                    74,000

Medium businesses:                           188,000

50-499 employees                                188,000

Large businesses:                              155,000

500-999 employees                                49,000

1,000+ employees                                105,000

By Sector

I.  Goods-producing:                                           80,000

A.  Natural resources/mining                                               <-1,000>

B.  Construction                                                                      32,000

C.  Manufacturing                                                                   49,000

II.  Service-providing:                                       437,000

A.  Trade/transportation/utilities                                             92,000

B.  Information                                                                      <-7,000>

C.  Financial activities                                                                           9,000

D.  Professional/business services                                           83,000

                        1.  Professional/technical services                               27,000

                        2.  Management of companies/enterprises                     4,000

                        3.  Administrative/support services                             53,000

            E.  Education/health services                                                   68,000

                        1.  Health care/social assistance                                   66,000

                        2.  Education                                                                  2,000

            F.  Leisure/hospitality                                                            169,000

            G.  Other services                                                                     22,000

Franchise Employment

Franchise Jobs                                     15,500

“We saw marked improvement in March’s labor market data, reporting the strongest gain since September 2020,” said Nela Richardson, chief economist, ADP.  “Job growth in the service sector significantly outpaced its recent monthly average, led with notable increase by the leisure and hospitality industry.  This sector has the most opportunity to improve as the economy continues to gradually reopen and the vaccine is made more widely available.  We are continuing to keep a close watch on the hardest hit sectors but the groundwork is being laid for a further boost in the monthly pace of hiring in the months ahead.”

(The April 2021 ADP National Employment Report will be released at 8:15 a.m. ET on May 5, 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.

March 2021 Small Business Report Highlights

Total Small Business Employment:             174,000

●By Size  
►1-19 employees 100,000
►20-49 employees 74,000
●By Sector for 1-49 Employees  
►Goods Producing 11,000
►Service Producing 163,000
●By Sector for 1-19 Employees  
►Goods Producing 4,000
►Service Producing 96,000
●By Sector for 20-49 Employees  
►Goods Producing 6,000
►Service Producing 68,000

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 – January 2021

March 11, 2021    

The number of job openings changed little at 6,900,000 on the last business day of January, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.  Hires were little changed at 5,300,000 million while total separations decreased to 5,300,000.  Within separations, the quits rate and layoffs and discharges rate changed little at 2.3% and 1.2%, respectively.  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.  The release also includes 2020 annual estimates for hires and separations.  The annual number of hires at 73,100.000 and the annual number of layoffs and discharges at 41,000,000 increased in 2020.  The annual number of quits at 36,300,000 decreased in 2020.

Job Openings

On the last business day of January, the number and rate of job openings were little changed at 6,900,000 and 4.6%, respectively. Job openings increased in state and local government education (+56,000); educational services (+21,000); and mining and logging (+10,000).  The number of job openings was little changed in all 4 regions.

Over the year, the number of job openings (not seasonally adjusted) was little changed in January.  Job openings decreased in a number of industries over the year with the largest decreases in accommodation and food services; state and local government, excluding education; and arts, entertainment, and recreation.  The job openings level increased over the year in nondurable goods manufacturing; durable goods manufacturing; and mining and logging.  The number of job openings decreased in the West region.


Revisions to the JOLTS Estimates

Job openings, hires, and separations have been revised to incorporate the annual updates to the Current Employment Statistics employment data and the JOLTS seasonal adjustment factors. See the revision section at the end of this release for more information.



In January, the number and rate of hires were little changed at 5,300,000 and 3.7%, respectively.  Hires increased in arts, entertainment, and recreation (+59,000) and in educational services (+25,000).  Hires decreased in federal government (-15,000).  The number of hires decreased in the South region.

The number of hires in January (not seasonally adjusted) decreased over the year

(-696,000).  Hires decreased in a number of industries with the largest decreases in accommodation and food services; professional and business services; and health care and social assistance.  The number of hires decreased in the South and West 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 January, the number of total separations decreased to 5,300,000 (-275,000), and the total separations rate was little changed at 3.7%.  The total separations level decreased in accommodation and food services (-242,000); educational services (-38,000); and state and local government education (-27,000).  Total separations increased in transportation, warehousing, and utilities (+87,000) and in federal government (+9,000).  Total separations were little changed in all 4 regions.

Over the year, the number of total separations (not seasonally adjusted) decreased

(-403,000).  Total separations decreased in a number of industries with the largest decreases in professional and business services; state and local government education; and educational services.  Total separations increased in transportation, warehousing, and utilities and in federal government.  The number of total separations decreased in the South and Midwest regions.

In January, the quits level and rate were little changed at 3,300,000 and 2.3%, respectively.  The number of quits increased in finance and insurance (+36,000) and in federal government (+5,000).  The number of quits decreased in wholesale trade

(-28,000); educational services (-18,000); and state and local government education

(-14,000).  The number of quits was little changed in all 4 regions.

Over the year, the number of quits (not seasonally adjusted) decreased (-239,000).  Quits decreased in a number of industries with the largest decreases in professional and business services; state and local government education; and educational services.  Quits increased in a number of industries with the largest increases in durable goods manufacturing; finance and insurance; and nondurable goods manufacturing.  The number of quits decreased in the West region.

In January, the number and rate of layoffs and discharges were little changed at 1,700,000 and 1.2%, respectively.  The number of layoffs and discharges decreased in accommodation and food services (-209,000).  The number of layoffs and discharges increased in transportation, warehousing, and utilities (+113,000) and in federal government (+5,000).  Layoffs and discharges were little changed in all 4 regions.

Over the year, the layoffs and discharges level (not seasonally adjusted) was little changed.  The number of layoffs and discharges decreased in a number of industries with the largest decreases in professional and business services; durable goods manufacturing; and finance and insurance.  Layoffs and discharges increased in transportation, warehousing, and utilities; wholesale trade; and federal government.  The number of layoffs and discharges increased in the West region but decreased in the Midwest region.

The number of other separations edged down in January to 310,000 (-42,000).  Other separations decreased in a number of industries with the largest decreases in retail trade

(-21,000); state and local government education (-9,000); and transportation, warehousing, and utilities (-8,000).  Other separations increased in health care and social assistance (+17,000).  The other separations level decreased in the South region but increased in the West region.

Over the year, the other separations level (not seasonally adjusted) decreased (-67,000).  Other separations decreased in a number of industries with the largest decreases in retail trade; accommodation and food services; and state and local government education.  The number of other separations increased in federal government.  The number of other separations decreased in the South region.

Net Change in Employment

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

Over the 12 months ending in January, hires totaled 72,400,000 and separations totaled 81,200,000, yielding a net employment loss of 8,800,000.  These totals include workers who may have been hired and separated more than once during the year.

Annual Levels and Rates

Consistent with BLS practice, annual estimates are published for not seasonally adjusted data and are published with the January news release each year.  Annual estimates are not calculated for job openings because job openings are a stock, or point-in-time, measurement for the last business day of each month.  Calculating annual levels and rates allows additional comparisons across years.  Annual levels for hires, quits, layoffs and discharges, other separations, and total separations are the sum of the 12 revised

monthly levels.  Annual rates are computed by dividing the annual level by the Current Employment Statistics (CES) annual average employment level, and multiplying that quotient by 100.

In 2020, there were 73,100,000 hires, an increase of 3,100,000 from 2019.  Total separations increased by 13,500,000 in 2020 to 81,500,000.  Quits decreased for the first time in 11 years to 36,300,000 in 2020, down by 5,800,000.  Quits comprised 44.6% of total separations.  Layoffs and discharges increased by 19,200,000 in 2020 to 41,000,000 and comprised 50.3% of total separations.  Other separations increased by 162,000 in 2020 to 4,200,000 and comprised 5.1% of total separations.  These data reflect the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and efforts to contain it.

The annual hires rate for 2020 was 51.4% of the annual average CES employment level.   The annual total separations rate for 2020 was 57.3%.  The annual rates for the components of total separations were 25.5%for quits, 28.8% for layoffs and discharges, and 2.9% for other separations.

The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey estimates for February 2021 are scheduled to be released on Tuesday, April 6, 2021 at 10:00 a.m. (ET).

As we recruiters know, that 6,900,000 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 6,900,000 published job openings now become a total of 34,500,000 published AND hidden job orders.



Online Labor Demand Rose in February

March 10, 2021


The Conference Board®-Burning Glass® Help Wanted OnLine® (HWOL) Index rose in February and now stands at 106.8 (July 2018=100), up from 104.4 in January.  The Index rose 0.5% from December to January and is down 2.4% 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) Indexmeasures 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 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.

The next release for March 2021 is Wednesday, April 7 at 10 AM.

U-6 Update

In March 2021, the regular unemployment rate fell 0.2% to 6.0% and the broader U-6 measure fell 0.4% to at 10.7%.  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 10.7% 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 March U-6 numbers for the previous 18 years:

March 2020                 8.7%

March 2019                 7.4%

March 2018                 7.9%

March 2017                 8.8%

March 2016                 9.8%

March 2015                 10.9%

March 2014                 12.6%

March 2013                 13.8%

March 2012                 14.5%

March 2011                 15.7%

March 2010                 16.8%

March 2009                 15.6%

March 2008                 9.1%

March 2007                 8.0%

March 2006                 8.2%

March 2005                 9.1%

March 2004                 9.9%

March 2003                 10.0%

The March 2021 BLS Analysis

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 916,000 in March, and the unemployment rate edged down to 6.0%, the U.S. bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.  These improvements in the labor market reflect the continued resumption of economic activity that had been curtailed due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.  Job growth was widespread in March, led by gains in leisure and hospitality, public and private education, and construction.
The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for January was revised up by 67,000, from +166,000 to +233,000, and the change for February was revised up by 89,000, from +379,000 to +468,000.  With these revisions, employment in January and February combined was 156,000 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 April 2nd, 2021, the BLS published the most recent unemployment rate for March 2021 of 6.0% (actually, it is 6.048% down by 0.176% from 6.224% in February.

The unemployment rate was determined by dividing the unemployed of 9,710,000

(–down from the month before by 262,000—since March 2020, this number has increased by 2,525,000) by the total civilian labor force of 160,558,000 (up by 347,000 from February 2020).  Since March 2020, our total civilian labor force has decreased by 2,163,000 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 261,003,000.  This is an increase of 85,000 from last month’s increase of 67,000.  In one year, this population has increased by 1,245,000.  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 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
Up from June 2018by201,000
Up from May 2018by188,000
Up from April 2018by182,000
Up from March 2018by175,000

This month the BLS has increased the Civilian Labor Force to 160,558,000 (up from February by 347,000, 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 100,445,000 ‘Not in Labor Force’—down by 263,000 from last month’s 100,708,000.  In one year, this NILF population has increased by 3,408,000.  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—rose to 61.5%.  This ‘reopening’ rate is .9% 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 March was 3.1% (this rate was .1% 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 March was3.7% (this rate was .1% lower than last month’s 3.8%).

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

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


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

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

On March 25th, the US Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) announced the real gross domestic product (GDP) increased at an annual rate of 4.3% in the fourth quarter of 2020, according to the “third” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis.  In the third quarter, real GDP increased 33.4%.

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 4.1%.  The upward revision primarily reflected an upward revision to private inventory investment that was partly offset by a downward revision to nonresidential fixed investment.

The increase in real GDP reflected increases in exports, nonresidential fixed investment, personal consumption expenditures (PCE), residential fixed investment, and private inventory investment, that were partly offset by decreases in state and local government spending as well as federal government spending (reflecting fewer fees paid to administer the Paycheck Protection Program loans).  Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, increased.

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

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

The increase in exports primarily reflected an increase in goods (led by industrial supplies and materials).  The increase in nonresidential fixed investment primarily reflected an increase in equipment (led by transportation equipment).  The increase in PCE reflected an increase in services (led by health care).  The increase in residential fixed investment primarily reflected an increase in single family units.  The increase in private inventory investment primarily reflected an increase in manufacturing, including both durable and nondurable goods industries.

Updates to GDP

In the third estimate, the change in fourth-quarter real GDP was revised up 0.2% from the second estimate.  The updated estimates primarily reflected upward revisions to private inventory investment and state and local government spending that were partly offset by downward revisions to nonresidential fixed investment and consumer 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 fourth quarter, private goods-producing industries increased 6.1%, private services-producing industries increased 4.9%, and government decreased 1.1%.  Overall, 17 of 22 industry groups contributed to the fourth-quarter increase in real GDP.

The increase in private goods-producing industries reflected increases in construction and in durable goods manufacturing (led by computer and electronic products as well as fabricated metal products).

The increase in private services-producing industries reflected increases in finance and insurance (led by Federal Reserve banks, credit intermediation, and related activities); health care and social assistance (led by ambulatory health care services); administrative and waste management services (led by administrative and support services); and professional, scientific and technical services.  These increases were partly offset by decreases in accommodation and food services (led by food services and drinking places); utilities; and educational services.

The decrease in the government sector reflected decreases in state and local government as well as federal government.

GDP for 2020

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

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

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

The increase in federal government spending in 2020 reflected an increase in nondefense consumption expenditures (led by an increase in purchases of intermediate services that supported the processing and administration of Paycheck Protection Program loan applications by banks on behalf of the federal government).  The increase in residential fixed investment primarily reflected increases in improvements as well as brokers’ commissions and other ownership transfer costs.

Real GDP by Industry for 2020

In 2020, private goods-producing industries decreased 2.7%, private services-producing industries decreased 3.9%, and government decreased 2.1%.  Overall, 16 of 22 industry groups contributed to the decrease in real GDP in 2020.

Within private goods-producing industries, the leading contributors to the decrease were durable goods manufacturing (led by other transportation equipment) and mining.

Decreases within the private services-producing industries were widespread; the leading contributors to the decrease were accommodation and food services (led by food services and drinking places); arts, entertainment, and recreation; health care and social assistance (led by ambulatory health care services); and transportation and warehousing.  Partly offsetting these decreases were increases in information (mainly data processing, internet publishing, and other information services) and in finance and insurance (mainly Federal Reserve banks, credit intermediation, and related activities).

The decrease in government reflected a decrease in state and local government that was partly offset by an increase in federal government.

Real gross output in 2020decreased 3.3%.  Private goods-producing industries decreased 2.7%, private services-producing industries decreased 3.9%, and government decreased 0.7%.  Overall, 16 of 22 industry groups contributed to the decrease in real gross output.

*          *          *

Next release, April 29, 2021 at 8:30 A.M. EDT
Gross Domestic Product, First Quarter 2021


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

March 2020                 2.4%

March 2019                 2.0%

March 2018                 2.0%

March 2017                 2.0%

March 2016                 2.4%

March 2015                 2.4%

March 2014                 3.3%

March 2013                 3.6%

March 2012                 4.2%

March 2011                 4.3%

March 2010                 4.7%

March 2009                 4.2%

March 2008                 2.1%

March 2007                 1.8%

March 2006                 2.1%

March 2005                 2.3%

March 2004                 2.7%

March 2003                 2.9%

March 2002                 2.8%

March 2001                 2.0%

March 2000                 1.8%

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

March 2020                 2.5%

March 2019                 2.0%

March 2018                 2.2%

March 2017                 2.5%

March 2016                 2.6%

March 2015                 2.5%

March 2014                 3.4%

March 2013                 3.8%                                       

March 2012                 4.2%

March 2011                 4.4%

March 2010                 4.8%

March 2009                 4.4%

March 2008                 2.1%

March 2007                 1.8%

March 2006                 2.2%

March 2005                 2.4%

March 2004                 2.9%

March 2003                 3.1%

March 2002                 2.8%

March 2001                 1.9%

March 2000                 1.6%

The March 2021 rates for these two categories, 3.1% and 3.7%, 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