BLS Analysis for Recruiters May 2021

Bob Marshall’s May 2021 BLS Analysis for Recruiters; 6/4/21

May 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/June 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/June 2021.  Contact us for details @ 770-898-5550 or

Our new TBMG products:

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

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.

Labor Shortages Returning Despite High Unemployment Rates: The Conference Board

Daily News, May 28, 2021

Labor shortages are returning as the Covid-19 pandemic appears to be waning, according to Labor Shortages Are Making a Comeback, a new report from The Conference Board that examines the unique factors and long-run forces driving this return to extremely tight labor markets.

Large segments of the economy continue to open at the same time and labor supply is constrained, resulting in shortages that are likely to remain for the better part of 2021, according to the report.  Employers have been deeply impacted.  Qualified workers are once again hard to find, and retention rates are low.

“Just as job losses in the Covid-19 recession were unprecedented in speed and severity, the post-pandemic recovery has set off a historic set of recruiting difficulties,” said Gad Levanon, VP, labor markets at The Conference Board.  “Some of these reflect unique factors likely to fade by the end of 2021, easing acute hiring troubles.  But they are accompanied by a return—or even acceleration—of the same long-term drivers behind extremely low unemployment before the pandemic.”

Together, these short-run and structural causes will keep labor markets tight until the next recession, according to Levanon.

Additional findings from the report:

Recruiting and retention difficulties are more pronounced in blue-collar and manual services jobs.  These workers face high infection risk and elevated unemployment benefits are an attractive option for workers with relatively low wages.  Tech occupations are also experiencing a tight labor market as the US economy shifts to more online activity and digital transformation grows.

Wages are accelerating.  Companies are reacting to the labor shortages by raising wages, especially in the leisure and hospitality sectors and other blue-collar and manual services occupations.

After a pause in 2022, tight labor markets will remain until the next recession.  Labor shortages may ease by the end of 2021, but they may reappear as soon as late 2022.  And for the first time in US history, the working-age population is shrinking as many baby boomers are retiring.  Though this demographic shift will create increased demand and job opportunities, as younger unemployed job seekers take up these positions, the unemployment rate will lower.

A mix of recruitment strategies can help alleviate labor shortages.  Some of the quickest and most impactful solutions involve making changes to the recruitment process, such as adding or modifying employee referral programs, contracting with staffing firms or implementing technologies to streamline recruitment.  Another strategy is to expand into new recruitment demographics, populations, and geographies.

Companies should reevaluate and possibly lower credential requirements.  To increase the available pool of candidates, organizations could lower requirements for prior experience and for skills/competencies.  However, lowering hiring requirements often creates a need for investing more in improving the skills and development of new recruits.

Remote hiring provides an opportunity to recruit candidates who were previously out of reach.  Inclusion of candidates who can work remotely means employers can cast a wider net.

Extra Unemployment Benefits Have Relatively Small but Noticeable Impact on Unemployed Accepting Job Offers:  San Francisco Fed

Daily News, May 21, 2021

Relatively few workers turn down jobs because of the extra unemployment benefits offered during the Covid-19 pandemic, but the effect is noticeable to employers, according to a Study by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.

It found moderate disincentive effects to find jobs caused by the $600 in extra benefits per week that expired in July 2020.  In addition, it reported relatively small effects of the $300 extra per week that will expire in September.

In discussing the $300 extra benefits per week, the report said “one straightforward way to think about that number is that each month in early 2021, about 7 out of 28 unemployed individuals receive job offers that they would normally accept, but 1 of the 7 decides to decline the offer due to the availability of the extra $300 per week in UI payments.  This implies a small but likely noticeable contribution of expanded UI generosity to job-finding rates and employers’ perceptions of worker availability in early 2021.”

US Leading Economic Index Surpasses Its Previous Peak Reached in January 2020

Daily News, May 20, 2021

The Conference Board Leading Economic Index for the US recovered from Covid in April with a month-over-month increase of 1.6% to a reading of 113.3.

“With April’s large monthly gain to start the second quarter, the US [Leading Economic Index] has now recovered fully from its Covid-19 contraction — surpassing the index’s previous peak, reached at the very onset of the global pandemic in January 2020,” said Ataman Ozyildirim, senior director of economic research at The Conference Board.

“While employment and production have not recovered to their pre-pandemic levels yet, the US [Leading Economic Index] suggests the economy’s upward trend should continue and growth may even accelerate in the near term,” Ozyildirim said.  “The Conference Board now forecasts real GDP could grow around 8% to 9% (annualized) in the second quarter, with year-over-year economic growth reaching 6.4% for 2021.”

Separately, the 4-week moving average of US initial claims for unemployment hit another post-pandemic low last week, the US Department of Labor reported.  The average fell by 30,500 in the week ended May 15 to a level of 504,750, the lowest since the week of March 14, 2020, when the average was at 225,500.

Total jobless claims fell by 34,000 to 444,000 the week ended May 15.  They were also at their lowest level since the week ended March 14, 2020.

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance claims, which are not seasonally adjusted, fell by 8,592 to a total of 95,086.  Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program claims include self-employed workers, among others.

Also, today, Randstad RiseSmart launched its Labor Market Barometer, which aggregates 10 key labor market indicators into a single, monthly figure representing the pulse of the US labor market.

The Labor Market Barometer rose 17.5 points to a reading of 106.2 in April.  That compares to a pandemic low of 88.7 in April 2020.  The index has a baseline figure of 100 set in March 2020, at the onset of the pandemic’s economic impact in the US.

“Continued labor market improvement will be highly dependent on the ability to get millions of Americans back to work, especially by boosting labor participation rates in industries that have been heavily impacted throughout this crisis such as leisure, retail and hospitality,” Randstad RiseSmart CEO Dan Davenport said.

The labor market indicators included in the barometer are the unemployment level, unemployment rate, number of employees in the temporary help services industry, initial jobless claims, the ASA staffing index, the percentage of industries that have increase their payrolls in the last month, layoffs, the ISM Index percentage reporting lower volumes in services, the ISM index percentage reporting lower volumes in manufacturing and Google searches on unemployment.

CEO Confidence at Highest Level Since 1976; Finding Workers Gets Tougher

Daily News, May 19, 2021

The Conference Board Measure of CEO Confidence rose to its highest level this quarter since the index began in 1976.  The measure is now at a level of 82, up from 73 in the first quarter.  However, CEOs cited increasing difficulty finding workers.

“This quarter’s survey marks a remarkable turnaround from a year ago — when CEO confidence reached a nadir of 34 at the height of Covid-19’s first wave,” said Dana Peterson, chief economist at The Conference Board.

A survey for the CEO confidence measure found that 94% of CEOs said business conditions are better compared to 6 months ago.  That compares to only 67% who said the same thing in the first quarter.

CEOs are also seeing a boost in jobs.  The second-quarter survey found that 54% plan to expand their workforce compared to 47% in the first quarter.  This comes even as more CEOs report difficulty finding qualified workers — the survey found that 57% reported difficulty finding workers in the second quarter compared to 50% in the first quarter.

“Optimism is surging in C-suites and boardrooms across industries,” said Roger Ferguson, Jr., vice chairman of The Business Council and Trustee of The Conference Board.  “For CEOs, the challenge is no longer staying afloat, but keeping pace — in particular, with a likely resurgence of the labor shortages experienced before the pandemic.”

The new ADP/Moody’s National Employment Report: Nearly 69% of all new job growth in May 2021 came from Small and Medium-size Companies!

June 4, 2021

Private sector employment increased by 978,000 jobs from April to May according to the May 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 April total of jobs added was revised from

742,000 to 654,000.

Total U.S. Nonfarm Private Employment:             978,000

By Company Size

Small businesses:                                333,000

1-19 employees                                    177,000

20-49 employees                                  156,000

Medium businesses:                           338,000

50-499 employees                                338,000

Large businesses:                              308,000

500-999 employees                                88,000

1,000+ employees                                220,000

By Sector

I.  Goods-producing:                                           128,000

A.  Natural resources/mining                                                 11,000

B.  Construction                                                                      65,000

C.  Manufacturing                                                                   52,000

II.  Service-providing:                                        850,000

A.  Trade/transportation/utilities                                            118,000

B.  Information                                                                      <-3,000>

C.  Financial activities                                                                         20,000

D.  Professional/business services                                           68,000

                        1.  Professional/technical services                               24,000

                        2.  Management of companies/enterprises                     4,000

                        3.  Administrative/support services                             40,000

            E.  Education/health services                                                 139,000

                        1.  Health care/social assistance                                 119,000

                        2.  Education                                                                20,000

            F.  Leisure/hospitality                                                            440,000

            G.  Other services                                                                     69,000

Franchise Employment

Franchise Jobs                                     57,700

“Private payrolls showed a marked improvement from recent months and the strongest gain since the early days of the recovery,” said Nela Richardson, chief economist, ADP.  “While goods producers grew at a steady pace, it is service providers that accounted for the lion’s share of the gains, far outpacing the monthly average in the last six months.  Companies of all sizes experienced an uptick in job growth, reflecting the improving nature of the pandemic and economy.”

(The June 2021 ADP National Employment Report will be released at 8:15 a.m. ET on June 30, 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.

May 2021 Small Business Report Highlights

Total Small Business Employment:             333,000

●By Size  
►1-19 employees 177,000
►20-49 employees 156,000
●By Sector for 1-49 Employees  
►Goods Producing 25,000
►Service Producing 308,000
●By Sector for 1-19 Employees  
►Goods Producing 14,000
►Service Producing 163,000
●By Sector for 20-49 Employees  
►Goods Producing 11,000
►Service Producing 145,000

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 – March 2021

May 11, 2021       

The number of job openings reached a series high of 8,100,000 on the last business day of March, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.  Hires were little changed at 6,000,000.  Total separations were little changed at 5,300,000.  Within separations, the quits rate was unchanged at 2.4% while the layoffs and discharges rate decreased to a series low of 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 March, the job openings level reached a series high of 8,100,000 (+597,000).  The job openings series began in December 2000.  The job openings rate increased to 5.3%.  Job openings increased in a number of industries with the largest increases in accommodation and food services (+185,000); state and local government education (+155,000); and arts, entertainment, and recreation (+81,000).  The number of job openings decreased in health care and social assistance (-218,000).  The number of job openings increased in the Northeast and Midwest regions.


In March, the number and rate of hires changed little at 6,000,000 and 4.2%, respectively.  Hires increased in state and local government education (+62,000); educational services (+31,000); and mining and logging (+17,000).  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 March, the number and rate of total separations were little changed at 5,3 million and 3.7 percent, respectively. The total separations level decreased in construction (-82,000) and in state and local government education (-25,000). Total separations were little changed in all four regions.

In March, the quits level and rate were little changed at 3.500,000 and 2.4%, respectively.  The number of quits increased in accommodation and food services (+63,000) and in information (+16,000).  Quits decreased in state and local government education

(-19,000).  The number of quits was little changed in all 4 regions.

In March, the number of layoffs and discharges decreased to a series low of 1,500,000.   The layoffs and discharges rate decreased to 1.0%.  The number of layoffs and discharges decreased in construction (-93,000).  Layoffs and discharges were little changed in all four regions.

The number of other separations was little changed in March at 334,000.  Other separations increased in professional and business services (+29,000).  Other separations decreased in information (-7,000); state and local government education (-6,000); and nondurable goods manufacturing (5,000).  The other separations level was little changed in all 4 regions.

Net Change in Employment

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

Over the 12 months ending in March, hires totaled 73,200,000 and separations totaled 69,900,000, yielding a net employment gain of 3,300,000.  These totals include workers who may have been hired and separated more than once during the year.

Establishment Size Class

JOLTS produces estimates for job openings, hires, and separations by establishment size.  These estimates can provide additional insight into the internal dynamics of the labor market.  There are 6 employment size classes: 1-9; 10-49; 50-249; 250-999; 1,000-4,999; and 5,000 or more employees.  Utilizing these size classes, establishments can also be described as small (1-49 employees), medium (50-249), and large (250+).

In March, the job openings rate increased in medium establishments with 50-249 employees and large establishments with 5,000 or more employees.  In small establishments with 1-9 employees, the layoffs and discharges rate decreased.  The layoffs and discharges rate increased in large establishments with 250-999 employees.


The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey estimates for April 2021 are scheduled to be released on Tuesday, June 8, 2021 at 10:00 a.m. (ET).

As we recruiters know that 8,100,000 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 8,100,000 published job openings now become a total of 40,500,000 published AND hidden job orders.



Online Labor Demand Slightly Declined in April

May 12, 2021

The Conference Board®-Burning Glass® Help Wanted OnLine® (HWOL) Index declined inApril and now stands at 112.2 (July 2018=100), down from 113.5 in March.  The Index rose 1.3% from February to March and is up 59.3% 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 May 2021 is Wednesday, June 9th at 10 AM.

U-6 Update

In May 2021, the regular unemployment rate declined .3% to 5.8% and the broader U-6 measure fell .2% to 10.2%.  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 10.2% is referred to as the U-6 unemployment rate (found in the monthly BLS Employment Situation Summary, Table A-15; Table A-12 in 2008 and before).  It counts not only people without work seeking full-time employment (the more familiar U-3 rate), but also counts “marginally attached workers and those working part-time for economic reasons.”  Note that some of these part-time workers counted as employed by U-3 could be working as little as an hour a week.  And the “marginally attached workers” include those who have gotten discouraged and stopped looking, but still want to work.  The age considered for this calculation is 16 years and over.

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

May 2020                    21.2%

May 2019                    7.2%

May 2018                    7.7%

May 2017                    8.4%

May 2016                    9.7%

May 2015                    10.7%

May 2014                    12.1%

May 2013                    13.8%

May 2012                    14.8%

May 2011                    15.8%

May 2010                    16.5%

May 2009                    16.4%

May 2008                    9.8%

May 2007                    8.3%

May 2006                    8.2%

May 2005                    8.9%

May 2004                    9.7%

May 2003                    10.1%

The May 2021 BLS Analysis

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 559,000 in May, and the unemployment rate declined by .3% to 5.8%, the U.S. bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.  Notable job gains occurred in leisure and hospitality, in public and private education, and in health care and social assistance.
The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for March was revised up by 15,000, from +770,000 to +785,000, and the change for April was revised up by 12,000, from +266,000 to +278,000.  With these revisions, employment in March and April combined is 27,000 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 June 4th, 2021, the BLS published the most recent unemployment rate for May 2021 of 5.8% (actually, it is 5.789% down by 0.306% from 6.095% in April.

The unemployment rate was determined by dividing the unemployed of 9,316,000

(–down from the month before by 496,000—since May 2020, this number has decreased by 11,659,000) by the total civilian labor force of 160,935,000 (down by 53,000 from April 2020).  Since May 2020, our total civilian labor force has increased by 2,735,000 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 261,210,000.  This is an increase of 107,000 from last month’s increase of 100,000.  In one year, this population has increased by 1,163,000.  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 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
Up from June 2018by201,000
Up from May 2018by188,000

This month the BLS has increased the Civilian Labor Force to 160,935,000 (down from April by 53,000, 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 100,275,000 ‘Not in Labor Force’up by 160,000 from last month’s 100,115,000.  In one year, this NILF population has decreased by 1,572,000.  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 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 May was 2.8% (this rate was .2% lower than last month’s 3.0%).  Or you can look at it another way.  We usually place people who have college degrees.  That unemployment rate in May was3.2% (this rate was .3% lower than last month’s 3.5%).

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 May 27th, the US Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) announced the real gross domestic product (GDP) increased at an annual rate of 6.4% in the first quarter of 2021, according to the “second” estimate.   In the fourth quarter of 2020, real GDP increased 4.3%.

The GDP estimate released today is based on more complete source data than were available for the “advance” estimate issued last month.  In the advance estimate, the increase in real GDP was also 6.4%.  Upward revisions to consumer spending and nonresidential fixed investment were offset by downward revisions to exports and private inventory investment. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, were revised up

COVID-19 Impact on the First Quarter 2021 GDP Estimate

The increase in first quarter GDP reflected the continued economic recovery, reopening of establishments, and continued government response related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the first quarter, government assistance payments, such as direct economic impact payments, expanded unemployment benefits, and Paycheck Protection Program loans, were distributed to households and businesses through the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act and the American Rescue Plan Act.

The full economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic cannot be quantified in the GDP estimate for the first quarter of 2021 because the impacts are generally embedded in source data and cannot be separately identified.

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

The increase in PCE reflected increases in durable goods (led by motor vehicles and parts), nondurable goods (led by food and beverages) and services (led by food services and accommodations).

The increase in nonresidential fixed investment reflected increases in intellectual property products (led by software) and in equipment (led by information processing equipment).

The increase in federal government spending primarily reflected an increase in payments made to banks for processing and administering the Paycheck Protection Program loan applications as well as purchases of COVID-19 vaccines for distribution to the public.

The decrease in private inventory investment primarily reflected a decrease in retail trade inventories.

Updates to GDP

In the second estimate for the first quarter, real GDP increased 6.4 percent, the same rate as in the advance estimate. Upward revisions to consumer spending, nonresidential fixed investment, and residential fixed investment were offset by downward revisions to exports, private inventory investment, and state and local government spending. Imports were revised up.

Annual Update of the National Economic Accounts

BEA will release results from the 2021 annual update of the National Economic Accounts, which includes the National Income and Product Accounts (NIPAs) as well as the Industry Economic Accounts, later this year.

Results from the annual update of the NIPAs will be released on July 29, 2021, along with the advance estimate of GDP for the second quarter of 2021.

Results from the annual update of the Industry Economic Accounts will be released on September 30, 2021, along with the third estimate of GDP for the second quarter of 2021.

The update of the National Economic Accounts will cover the first quarter of 1999 through the first quarter of 2021 and will result in revisions to GDP, GDP by Industry, and gross domestic income.

*          *          *

Next release, June 24, 2021 at 8:30 A.M. EDT
Gross Domestic Product (Third Estimate)
Gross Domestic Product by Industry
Corporate Profits (Revised Estimate)
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 May “management, professional and related” types of worker category, you will find the following rates:

May 2020                    6.6%

May 2019                    1.7%

May 2018                    1.7%

May 2017                    1.9%

May 2016                    2.1%

May 2015                    2.4%

May 2014                    3.1%

May 2013                    3.5%

May 2012                    4.0%

May 2011                    4.4%

May 2010                    4.5%

May 2009                    4.3%

May 2008                    2.6%

May 2007                    1.9%

May 2006                    2.0%

May 2005                    2.4%

May 2004                    2.8%

May 2003                    3.0%

May 2002                    3.1%

May 2001                    2.0%

May 2000                    1.8%

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

May 2020                    7.4%

May 2019                    2.1%

May 2018                    2.0%

May 2017                    2.3%

May 2016                    2.4%

May 2015                    2.7%

May 2014                    3.2%

May 2013                    3.8%

May 2012                    3.9%

May 2011                    4.5%

May 2010                    4.6%

May 2009                    4.8%

May 2008                    2.3%

May 2007                    2.0%

May 2006                    2.1%

May 2005                    2.4%

May 2004                    2.8%

May 2003                    3.1%

May 2002                    3.0%

May 2001                    2.1%

May 2000                    1.6%

The May 2021 rates for these two categories, 2.8% and 3.2%, 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