Invest Hamilton County

Memos From Mike

Hamilton Co Has 16,000+ Open Jobs…. Breaking Down the Data
July 21, 2022

Title: Hamilton Co Has 16,000+ Open Jobs…. Breaking Down the Data

When considering how hot the labor market has been over the past year it seems like a wild time to be saying we’ve hit a new peak. The goal of federal action on interest rates to combat inflation was/is to cool demand for products, services, homes, durable goods etc within the economy and in doing so restore price stability.  The so called, “soft-landing” dreamed of by the federal reserve means that demand slows, prices stabilize and the labor market withstands the shock of those co-occurring actions.

Nationally, the labor market is softening… a bit. The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) showed a significant decline in open positions from April to May (there are still 1.9 job openings for every available worker). During that same time in Hamilton County over 1700 more positions became available which is the largest month to month increase in the past year. From May to June a net of 400 positions were filled from this tally.

One of the remarkable trends for this summer is the trajectory of open positions within our local economy, both in light of national context and when compared to historical trends. It makes sense to have some increase in seasonal employment demand but what is unique to this moment in the continued upward trajectory of unique job postings compared to previous years (excluding the 2020 outlier). This means that while on June 16th we were only 5.7% above 2021, on July 16th we were 16.7% above 2021 openings.

The competition for talent is real and regional. Since 2019 Median wage is up over 20% and in June surpassed $19/hour for the first time. The population demographics of Hamilton County when compared to the positions being hired for showcase that while we may be a net exporter of talent to the Indy region, we need to bring in people from other communities to fill open roles. Here are the education and experience requirements for open positions and the educational demographics of our commuity:

Some of this is a very tried and true narrative we’ve been familiar with for years, but I think one important item of note is that 75% of the open positions in our community through May and June of 2022 requiring a bachelor’s degree are asking for 3 years of experience or less. At $54.9k/year median salary these are well paid positions, but with the level of competition existing for talent it is more important than ever we continue to build a community where those entry level professionals want to (and can afford to) live.

Here are some tactical recommendations employers should consider:

  • Evaluate the level of local competition for the positions you have available and use that as a benchmark for transparency in the interviewing and application process. While I always recommend posting salary information if possible (at least in a range) it is a lot less important when there are 3 open positions of that kind in your market than it is when there are 50.
  • Carefully consider your job titles and the tasks involved. Take a look at other posting using the same word. Sometimes a one-word difference means only people with 4-year degrees will see your entry level production job. If you need help… we’re here to assist in this evaluation free of charge.
  • If you can…avoid hiring part-time employees. Multiple consecutive reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) have shown it is a dying pool of workers (with a 700,000 worker national decline from May to June 2022). While one job pays $17-$19 and the gig economy is so available and flexible this trend will continue. If you need help with this… engage your team. Finding ways to carve what were previously multiple part time roles into full time ones is a task best suited for people on the frontlines working with those teams whenever possible.
  • Historically, when employers raise wages they don’t bring them back down. Don’t play a game of chicken with your applicant pool and try to bargain hunt… because it will mostly mean that the quality of talent you’ll find jumps ship for a minimal pay increase

Overall, all the “challenges” outlined above mean that our local economy is in a strong state. Businesses hire when they are looking to expand and see more opportunity on the horizon, not when preparing for a calamitous economic downturn. While nationally the economy is giving off some mixed signals… locally we’re seeing one word ring true… grow.