If the small possibility exists that you are not yet aware of just how strong the American job market is—and has been on a sustained basis for the last 15 months and counting—then let me not wake you from your nap. It is, simply, in better shape than it’s ever been since record keeping was standardized in 1939.
After last year’s unbelievable record-shattering creation of 6.743 million jobs (the old record was 4.269 million in 1946) most prognosticators said that pace of 562,000 jobs per month wouldn’t continue. It wouldn’t, they said, because it couldn’t.
Nué So what happened? In Q1 this year, we’ve seen 1.685 million jobs created, which is a monthly rate of—get ready—562,000. Exactly. Any questions?
Beyond this, there are 11.266 million open jobs, a level (10-plus million) never seen before July 2021 and a level that’s stayed there ever since. The unemployment rate of 3.6% means that there are nine open jobs for every five unemployed people. By contrast, in the Great Recession of 2008-09, there were 6.5 unemployed candidates for every job. There are so many positive statistics that even the most negative observers are extolling the strength of the job market. No need to go through them all; you can find them if you want them.
What does make sense, though, is to ask what we can expect if we move from watching the job market to watching work. What’s reasonable to expect?
Hiring, Hiring, Hiring
Despite an inflation rate that doesn’t make for a nice dinner table conversation, the economy is still growing at an impressive rate. That means that, if employers are going to keep up with demand, they’re going to have to seriously increase their hiring. That’s where those 11 million open jobs come in. And hiring is going on in all employment sectors: healthcare, business and professional services, construction, retail, transportation—all sectors. Whatever your profession, there are help wanted signs.
Raises, Raises, Raises
Not only is all this hiring going on, but employers are paying more for it. Wages and salaries have risen strongly for the past 15 months and are expected to continue through 2022. This increase applies to starting salaries and to raises, which are—to many employees’ surprise—much easier to get. It is clearly an employees’ market.
Get What You’re Worth
Given the favorable conditions, gone are the days when you had to settle for what you could get: a lower salary, a lesser position, and generally unsatisfactory circumstances. It is just the opposite now and you should know it.
In a market so tilted toward the worker, employers are the ones who have to concede ground—and that includes to the older worker. And, dear senior, while we’re on the subject, stop hiding your age. Your age is your strength, not your weakness. Strut your stuff. You’ve got plenty to offer. And you’re now in demand.
Puppies Back in the Carton
With all the fuss about remote work—which (1) saved us, and (2) now seems to be the preferred mode for many workers—don’t expect it to take over. Sure, remote work will forever be with us, but employers (and most employees) recognize the irreplaceable value of working together, building a cohesive culture, creating camaraderie, and collaborating face-to-face. In short, the puppies might not be back in the carton five days a week, but don’t expect to be sitting at home in your slippers five days a week, either.
Women getting paid 82 cents for every dollar a man makes? Not anymore. That horse has been out of the barn too long and it’s not coming back. But it’s up to each person to know what their pay scale is—and then expect it. The Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes the most unbiased and reliable data in their Occupational Outlook Handbook. When you’re going for either a job interview or a raise, nothing is better ammunition than this data.
Not Just in It for the Dough
Increasingly, companies are aligning with issues in what is referred to as CSR (corporate social responsibility). Whether it’s climate change, Special Olympics, World Central Kitchen, UNICEF, paid family leave, or any good cause for that matter, it makes a big difference in why you go to work. Awareness of these things—and an inclination to align them with core corporate values—is increasingly front and center. If we didn’t know that before 2020, we sure do now.
Add It Up
An unprecedentedly strong market, rising and equitable pay, changing workplace dynamics and alignment with things bigger than ourselves. Not a bad workplace, wouldn’t you say?
In fact, it’s one we’ve been waiting for all along.
It’s just that now we know it.
Career Coach Eli Amdur provides one-on-one coaching in job search, résumés, and interviewing. Reach him at [email protected] or 201-357-5844.