JOB GROWTH: As expected, this month’s employment report reflects the first wave of COVID-19 mitigation impacts on the American workforce, with a loss of 701,000 jobs. TOP INDUSTRIES: Although some industry sectors continue to work remotely, the severe drop in hiring was felt across the board. The most significant reductions, accounting for nearly two-thirds of the total losses, were recorded in leisure and hospitality. UNEMPLOYMENT: The unemployment rate rose sharply from its historic low of 3.5% to reach 4.4%, reflecting the many layoffs and furloughs relating to COVID-19. With the number of unemployed rising by 1.4 million to 7.1 million in March, this is the largest sequential monthly increase in 45 years. The number included 1.8 million people who reported being on temporary layoff. WAGES: While wage growth in March trended upward, with average hourly earnings over the past 12 months increasing to 3.1%, the movement related less to wage increases and more to the loss of so many lower-wage jobs.

WORK WEEK: The work week contracted in March, with average hours cutting back slightly to 34.2.

TEMPORARY JOB TRENDS: The temporary help sector recorded a loss of 49,500 jobs in March.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN? The only surprise in the dismal employment picture for March is that it appears better than anticipated. This is largely due to the timing of data collection at mid-month, which means the current report does not reflect many of the recent job losses and new claims for unemployment that came in the latter weeks of the month. With so much uncertainty about the length and severity of the pandemic, it is too early to speculate about the recovery. The federal government’s efforts to provide relief to people out of work and businesses in revenue free fall are designed to soften the economic impact of the health crisis. The strategy to help businesses keep employees on the payroll could accelerate a post-pandemic comeback because it minimizes the need for recruiting and training new staff. In the past, those businesses that were able to quickly gear up after a sharp economic decline recovered more strongly than competitors. 

To discuss how this might impact you and your workforce locally, reach out to your Spherion office by clicking here.

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Steinberg Employment Research, CNBC, Washington Post, Staffing Industry Analysts, American Staffing Association, NBC News, FOX Business, MSNBC, The Wall Street Journal


March 2020

Unemployment Ticks Down Again  JOB GROWTH: February job growth exceeded even the most optimistic expectations, reaching 273,000 new jobs. This level of activity was actually on par with upwardly revised numbers for January, which were initially reported as 225,000. Revisions to both the January and December figures raised the job creation totals for the combined two-month period by 85,000, bringing average job gains over the most recent three-month period to 243,000.

TOP INDUSTRIES: Job creation was particularly brisk in healthcare and hospitality in February, with solid gains also reported in government, construction and professional services. Manufacturing improved but transportation/warehousing took a hit in comparison to the prior month.

UNEMPLOYMENT: For the past six months, the unemployment rate has been dancing back and forth from 3.5% to 3.6%. In February, it continued that familiar rhythm when it returned to the lower rate of 3.5%.

WAGES: Wage growth continued to trend upward in February, with average hourly earnings over the past 12 months at 3.0%.

WORK WEEK: The work week got a bit longer in February, with average hours clocked at 34.4.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN? When viewed in isolation, February was a great month for job growth. For a long time, detractors have warned about an approaching downturn that simply has not materialized. They’ve said tradition dictates that a decade-long expansion cannot continue, but it has. During uncertain times though, many employers will take a wait-and-see approach. The most optimistic, however, will take advantage of this pocket of opportunity, because no matter what happens, the best talent will always be in short supply.

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Steinberg Employment Research, FOX News, Staffing Industry Analysts, NBC News, PBS News Hour, CNN Business, Bloomberg, The Washington Post, U.S. News & World Report


Diversity Matters

There was a time when diversity was viewed as a corporate program rather than a corporate strategy, but those days are long past for most employers. Diversity may still offer a snapshot of the workforce in all its many facets, but when coupled with inclusion, it provides an action agenda for ensuring all those diverse elements feel empowered to contribute at optimal levels.

In the Emerging Workforce® Study, sponsored by Spherion, it is apparent that both employers and employees understand the importance of diversity and inclusion in recruiting and retention. Nearly two-thirds of all workers and more than three-quarters of younger workers consider the composition of the workforce a significant factor in their desire to work for a company. Younger workers tend to place even greater value on a workplace that fully embraces diversity and inclusion, especially in terms of collaboration, growth and development, learning and competitiveness. Do employers agree? They actually have even stronger feelings about diversity and inclusion:

  • 93% say a diverse and inclusive workplace allows us all to grow and learn more effectively
  • 86% say hiring employees from diverse backgrounds is essential for my company’s continued success
  • 76% say as our customer base becomes more global and diverse, we need to improve diversity and inclusion to remain competitive

Those in Corporate America who once viewed diversity as little more than a special cultural program are long retired. Today, most employers recognize diversity as essential to overall business success. They’ve seen the hard evidence from multiple studies that show the positive impact of diversity and inclusion on collaboration, innovation, performance and customer loyalty. They get it. Diversity matters. What may not be as clear is how to harness the power of a strong diversity and inclusion strategy to advance their organizations.

Our upcoming webinar can change that. Join Certified Diversity Professional Floss Aggrey on Thursday, April 9 at 12 Noon EST for Building Diverse & Inclusive Environments for Employee Retention. Register here:


February 2020 Newsletter

February 2020 Newsletter