The numbers say it is still a workers’ job market

Workers still have the upper hand, generally speaking, in the current job market despite speculation that the economy may slow to a point where employers need fewer workers or begin laying off employees in significant numbers.

Wall Street Journal article yesterday pushed back on the idea that the current labor market is tipped in favor of employers. The piece, authored by Kathryn Dill and Jemal R. Brinson, identified five indicators that support the thesis that it is still a workers’ market.

The first is that the percentage of job postings on advertising remote positions is now just over nine percent of total postings, compared to under three percent in 2019.

New job postings are another indicator and, while the total on sites including Indeed and LinkedIn has fallen somewhat, the reality is that open positions listed on these platforms are still nearly 54 percent higher than in February 2020.

Employees are continuing to quit jobs and look for better opportunities elsewhere, often outside their current industries. The numbers have drifted down somewhat since last November’s record, yet 4.3 million people quit in May.

The number of people in retail fell by 61,000 in May, according to data released last month by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Food and beverage stores, department stores and general merchandise stores, including supercenters and warehouse clubs, saw their numbers decline on a seasonally adjusted basis.

Concerns that a slowing economy may bring job cuts is supported by worker polls, but layoffs to date have been confined to a few industries, such as automotive, consumer products and technology. Tesla became one of the more high-profile cases with CEO Elon Musk’s announcement last month that 10 percent of the company’s workforce would be culled. Reuters yesterday reported that the electric car maker laid off 229 employees at its San Mateo, CA, office and is permanently closing the facility.

The Journal piece pointed out that there are still more job openings than there are people to fill them. It also found, citing federal data, that the number of people who are working part-time but are seeking full-time hours decreased by more than 700,000 in June.

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