In the past few weeks friends of mine looking for new jobs were astounded when they didn’t get a call back from a few applications. They turned to their resident labor market nerd (hand raised) just to say, “this feels different…” to which I respond, “welcome to the 2019 of a parallel universe.” This is mostly good news for employers with open positions. Rising interest rates, recession fears and a reduction in purchasing power for millions of Americans due to inflation (and despite rising wages) have moderated demand and helped loosen up a tight labor market. Hamilton County in October 2022 had 15,990 open positions, in September 2023 there were 9,054… very close to where we were four years ago.
The job market also isn’t the one of 2019… while there was similar volume of positions open in September 2019 and today, the median wage for those roles was $15.21 compared to today’s $21.97. Of note also is that education and experience levels for open roles were also very similar for the overall market.
September- October 2019:
(Top Occupations by code, Sept–Oct 2019, Source: Invest Hamilton County, Lightcast 2023)
August – September 2023:
(Top Occupations by code, Aug-Sept 2023, Source: Invest Hamilton County, Lightcast 2023)
The top jobs both look the same… and different.
Health care has always been a hiring engine within Hamilton County, but demand and labor shortage has skyrocketed post-pandemic. Tractor-Trailer Drivers went from not in the top 10 to a consistent #2 to registered nurses over the past two years. Sales reps and software developer demand fell significantly for fall hiring, but both still sit comfortably in the top 20 occupations county-wide.
Postings vs Hires:
(STEM Occupation Group, Hires vs Postings, Source: Invest Hamilton County, Lightcast, 2023)
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) occupations continue to see more demand than hires, but levels are also lower than pre-pandemic.
(Management & Finance Group, Hires vs. Postings, Source: Invest Hamilton County, Lightcast, 2023)
Management and finance occupations have narrowed the gap considerably and for the first time since 2018 hires and postings were aligned in volume.
(Skilled Trades Group, Hires vs. Postings, Source: Invest Hamilton County, Lightcast 2023)
Skilled trades traditionally is an area where multiple people were hired for each posted position. Hamilton County’s labor market in 2023 is back to this trend after multiple years of higher volume. Posting volume is down but still remains higher than any point before 2019 and hires are steadily close to all time high.
(Food Service & Accommodations Group, Hires vs. Postings, Source: Invest Hamilton County, Lightcast 2023)
Food service and accommodation occupations always hire more than posts. Hiring volume remains strong despite decreased postings and is projected to remain steady throughout 2024.
Overall 81% of the job postings in 2023 were for new positions, which is much higher than previous years. Even those occupation groups seeing postings go down are seeing hires staying flat or rising. The anecdotal evidence attached is that companies are retaining talent at higher levels and growing the total number of employees in-house. With wages and unemployment continuing to rise it is also a good time for a job seeker with the right skills, but the days of 4 interviews for every 5 applications submitted are behind them (for now).
Overall… the market today (aside from wages) looks more like 2019 than 2022… which is good. 2019 overall was a period of measured growth facilitated by natural market demand rather than massive societal forces/crisis. I predict training and short-term credentials are going to begin paying off again for job seekers (which they havn’t been for a least two years)… and that employers are going to see increased scarcity among certain pockets of trained talent even while the labor market itself continues to flex in a healthy way.
We’ll have our 2030 labor market forecast launched publicly soon… and the short answer for occupations and opportunity is.. growth.