Women at Work: Job market looking better for workers

From the year 2000 to 2017, my career was comprised of many positions within Express Employment Professionals.

Our main focus was assisting businesses in staffing needs and finding the right fit for those applying for jobs. Oftentimes, those seeking jobs through us were not only fresh on the job hunt, but may also be looking for a career change. When looking for a change, the candidate would research the job outlook and whether or not the growth in that sector was positive.

No matter the industry, a downturn or upturn will change the outlook. Those seeking new jobs should also keep in mind that although economists have the ability to make good predictions, job outlook and job prospects have the capabilities of changing rather quickly.

To provide accurate and timely employment forecasts for business leaders, Express Employment Professionals International Headquarters conducts an ongoing Job Insights survey to track quarterly hiring trends across a wide range of industries.

Express surveyed business owners, decision makers, and human resource professionals about the overall hiring trends in their markets and how they impact their hiring decisions.


Optimism carries over

Quarter over quarter, optimism for 2018 remains steady with 91 percent of respondents who expect either an upward trend in hiring needs or to at least maintain current levels during the second quarter. Only 8 percent expect employment activity to trend down — the lowest percentage in four quarters. In fact, 93 percent of companies represented in the survey do not plan to eliminate any positions in the surveyed segments during second quarter.

The top segments hiring in the second quarter include general labor (industrial), skilled Labor (industrial), administrative/office clerical, and accounting/finance. Additionally, the segments creating the most new positions include engineering, marketing, IT, accounting and finance, and skilled labor.

Skilled workers at a premium

A recurring theme across the past four quarters — access to skilled workers — continues to plague businesses. In a job seekers’ market, businesses must go the extra mile and be more creative in the way they recruit top talent. Only 18 percent of respondents said all their positions are filled — a 2 percent decrease quarter over quarter. Additionally, since the second quarter of 2017, the number of businesses that say it is "somewhat" or "very" difficult to fill positions has increased from 65 percent to 75 percent.

Survey respondents noted that the top reasons their jobs go unfilled include:

1. Lack of applicants in general (37 percent)

2. Lack of applicants with experience (36 percent)


3. Lack of applicants with hard skills (24 percent)

Year over year, the challenge of finding skilled workers is only becoming more difficult. Although the economy appears to be growing healthier every day, if we don’t find a practical way to address the ever-widening skills gap, that forward momentum could come to an abrupt stop.

Wages expected to increase

Despite the improving health of the economy during the past several years, wages for most segments of the workforce have remained stagnant. However, the tide is beginning to turn as a tighter labor market, economic confidence, and lower taxes may finally help drive higher wages for many workers.

Over the next three months, 40 percent of business leaders expect wages to go up, an 8 percent increase over the second quarter 2017, and 59 percent expect wages to stay the same. Only 1 percent of companies expect wages to decrease over the next three months.

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