Why is it so Hard to Find a Job Despite Strong Job Reports?

why is it hard to get a job right now

On paper, today’s job market looks strong. Unemployment is at 3.9%. And there are close to 9 million job openings currently. Those two stats indicate that people are finding and keeping jobs.

However, that’s not quite the reality. Today’s headlines are filled with layoff announcements. And you’re probably seeing more friends and colleagues who are #OpentoWork in your LinkedIn feed.

To make matters worse, employers are getting more comfortable with “ghosting” applicants, leaving them wondering what they did to not only leave them jobless, but unworthy of a simple rejection email?

In this week’s blog, we’re going to explore four reasons why finding a job continues to be challenging, even when unemployment is low.

1. The Threat of Recession 

We’ve been experiencing high inflation over the past few years, which has led to the threat of a recession. Whenever a recession is seen as a possibility, companies pump the brakes on hiring.

It’s true that investors have been feeling more confident since late last year that the dreaded recession won’t come after all. However, business leaders and CEOs of major firms are concerned that we’re not out of the woods yet. They still think that recession could very well be in our future.

That means business leaders are very cautious about hiring. They don’t want to bring on new staff only to have to lay them off a year or even a few months later.

On top of a softening on hiring, companies are cutting their talent acquisition and retention teams, which only exacerbates the problem. There are simply less people available to manage the company’s job listings, respond to job applicants, and actively recruit talent.

This creates a perfect storm of sorts. More jobseekers are competing for fewer available jobs and there are fewer recruiters and to deal with the onslaught of resumes.

2. Jobseekers’ Unrealistic Expectations

why is it hard to get a job right now

In many ways jobseekers, believe they are entering into the job market of the recent past.

From 2021 to mid-2023, there were vast labor shortages due to the COVID-19 pandemic. During that time, wages increased sharply and employers were offering all kinds of perks to attract talent.

Although the labor market of 2024 is shaping up to be healthier than expected, it’s certainly not the job-seekers’ market of the past 24 to 36 months.

A recent survey revealed that 70% of candidates from the staffing firm Aerotek say their current job search is more difficult than their last one. Plus, employers are more cost-conscious and less willing to let employees work remote 100% of the time.

Jobseekers are coming to the stark realization that they don’t have as much leverage in today’s market as they once did. They are competing with fellow job seekers who are willing to work for less, expect fewer benefits, and are less reluctant to head back to the office in person.

3. Low-Quality Employment Opportunities 

A strong job report typically means that there are a fewer number of individuals looking for jobs and that there are more jobs being created each month.

However, that does not mean that the jobs that are being created match the skills, education, or skillsets of those seeking work. In many instances the job market may be filled with positions that pay low wages or are unskilled labor jobs that many people are overqualified for and therefore, uninterested in pursuing.

For example, 275,000 jobs were created in February, which is good news on its face. However, 58,000 of those jobs were in the leisure and hospitality sector, which is typically low paying work.

The most jobs were added to the healthcare and ambulatory sector. That’s a broad category, but includes home health aides, who make an average of $30,000 annually.

Meanwhile, the jobs report showed a loss in manufacturing and wholesale trade jobs, which typically offer good wages.

We also have to consider the number of part-time vs. full time jobs. The number of those employed full time decreased by 187,000 and the number of those workers who are employed part-time rose by 51,000. Part-time workers are often those who would rather be working full time but have taken a part-time job just to cover expenses.

4. Measuring Unemployment is not Straightforward

why is it hard to get a job right now

According to the BLS, a person must not only be out of work, but also be actively looking for a job to be considered unemployed.

The labor force excludes people who are old enough to work but are neither employed nor looking for a job—such as students and homemakers. Also excluded are jobless people who were in the job market for so long that they just gave up looking for a job.

This is one reason why unemployment statistics can underestimate the true demand for jobs in an economy.

There’s Still an Upside in Today’s Job Market 

Despite the challenges of today’s labor market, including tech and media companies laying off thousands, there are still opportunities out there for those jobseekers who want to land a new job.

The top four recession proof jobs at the moment are in these fields:

  1. Healthcare
  2. Government
  3. Construction
  4. Education

In addition to pursuing a position in one of those fields, the best approach to take right now if you are a jobseeker is to be persistent. Continue to send out resumes, apply for jobs, and use your network to find opportunities.

If you think your resume needs a refresh, then contact Empire Resume. We are a professional resume writing service that guarantees results.

And don’t forget to check out our professional blog with tons of articles about finding a job, perfecting interview skills, writing cover letters, and more.

Maria Gold is a Content Manager/Writer for Empire Resume. She is dedicated to helping educate and motivate people with the latest career articles and job search advice. Her interests range from writing to programming and design. She is also passionate about innovation, entrepreneurship, and technology.

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