What the Numbers Can Tell Us About Job-seekers in the U.S.

Published on 10/10/2019 by David Webb
Last Updated on 12/2/2022

For the US job market, the Bureau of Labor and Statistics releases thousands of data sets each month defining unemployment rates, employment projections, top occupations, and income levels and more. Interestingly, however, data is also collected about workers themselves. This is particularly applicable to the recruiting and staffing industry, as it provides some insight into who is looking for a job, in terms of why they may be unemployed and what types of jobs might be of interest to them based on their current situation.

People aren’t just working 9-5

For instance, the BLS notes that the number of workers who hold multiple jobs increased by about 6% from August 2018 to August 2019. The workers in most instances held a primary full-time job along with a second part-time job. This information could suggest that multiple job-holders may have experienced some difficulty finding a single position that could support them. Of course, it may be a personal choice to hold two jobs, but this segment of employable individuals (part-time workers), could serve as a targeted candidate source to network with when trying to fill open full-time positions, ultimately creating an increased pool of potential employees.

Part-time Work: Is it happenstance or a choice?

To build on that further, the BLS also surveys workers on the reasons why they may be working a job less than 35 hours per week which equates to a part-time position. Consequently, non-economic reasons surpass the economic reasons for selecting part-time work. In 2018, the top economic reason for only finding part-time work was noted as “slack work or business conditions.” Conversely, the top non-economic reason, aside from the blanket catch-all of “all other reasons” was “Other family or personal obligations”, followed by “In school or training”. Notably, as it underscores the recent statistic that the baby boomer generation is re-entering the workforce at high rates, “Retired or Social Security limit on earnings” is another non-economic reason for working less than 35 hours, suggesting that seasoned workers are still looking for meaningful work and could lend their experience to an organization.

Taking into account some of these factors, employers may wish to target audiences in these categories to supplement their workforces, especially for contingent needs. The non-economic reasons may also parlay into the culture of the employment organization and the benefits they offer. For instance, a company that offers flexible day or workweeks, virtual work-from-home options or generous family leave plans could be the difference-maker for talented candidates that could be an asset to the organization because of their skill-set but who may need some flexibility.

How do US job-seekers look for work?

 While the above data refers to partially employed workers, the BLS also provides significant data on unemployed individuals who are actively seeking work and the methods they use to find it. For 2018, the BLS indicated that there were 6,134,000 million individuals unemployed. That total number included individuals on temporary layoff; active job-seekers were listed at 5,461,000. Of the number of active job seekers, 55% used the method of sending out resumes or filling out applications in order to pursue jobs, followed by 50% who contacted employers directly and 23.8% reaching out to friends and relatives for work leads. Other methods included using a public employment agency, placing or answering ads, using a private employment agency, and other methods. The percentages overlap since many jobseekers use more than one method to seek out jobs.

This data is additional evidence that when you are looking to attract talent, it is more important than ever that your job openings are readily advertised and the process to apply and send in resumes is easily accessible to candidates since that is the most common route taken. Also, if job-seekers are contacting employers directly, promoting a strong employer brand that touts what makes your company unique could create an advantage to attracting the right candidates for your workforce.

Just from a few searches and table sorts, organizations can find pertinent information that can help with workforce solutions. From who to target, to where job-seekers are looking so that you make the most of your recruiting dollars, analyzing the data available can help formulate a solid plan that will result in an abundant candidate pool for building the best workforce. Look for more BrightMove Data Blogs like this each month for new ideas on how to implement new or augment existing recruiting efforts.





About the Author, David Webb

David is the CEO of BrightMove and is a seasoned technology executive & entrepreneur noted for creating successful businesses. Over his 25+ year career, David has developed multi-platform expertise in the domains of computer science, data analytics & business transformation. Starting in 1995, David worked with his best friend, Jimmy Hurff, to develop one of the world's first Internet job board and resume bank applications. David is the primary architect of BrightMove and has an active role in the product's evolution to this day. From then to now, David has been consistently helping his customers to build great teams, using best practices and world-class technology.

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