Coronavirus (COVID-19), Recruiting

COVID Norm: June/July 2020 Hiring and Employment Trends

2020 is like a moody teenager who can’t make up his or her mind! We started the year with the candidate-driven market, and then bam! COVID-19 hit, resulting in the worst unemployment numbers since the Great Depression. In June, states began lifting restrictions and businesses started opening back up, and then by July, businesses and states were closing down again. If one thing isn’t clear already, it’s that 2020 is filled with uncertainty.

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Source: Chansom Pantip / Shutterstock

Throughout the pandemic, we have been covering the hiring trends (or lack thereof) during the COVID era. In April, we were just starting to see the effects COVID-19 had on the hiring landscape, as unemployment numbers were starting to rise, and by May, the nation was crippled by double-digit unemployment. While we started to see some improvement in June, numerous states that had fully reopened quickly went back into lockdown in July, creating another vicious cycle of employment and then unemployment.

So, what does the rest of the summer have in store? We aren’t fortune-tellers, but if the past is any indication of what the future has in store, we predict more hiring and layoffs for the remainder of 2020. With that being said, we’ve gathered data from various job platforms to help us get an idea of the trends currently taking shape.

What Jobs Are People Searching For?

According to job platform Monster.com during June 8–14, 2020, while healthcare and work-from-home (WFH) roles dominated searches in the spring, jobseekers were starting to search for more business-related roles. Monster reports that candidates are seeking more business operations positions than healthcare roles.

Administrative, accounting, Human Resources, and receptionist all outranked healthcare and nursing job searches. Similarly, business and financial operations job postings were on an uptick, with finance managers and loan officers showing big increases. 

Manager positions were also on the rise in early June as more companies reopened for business and started rehiring again. In recent weeks, construction manager roles increased, followed by a demand for construction laborers, as newly hired managers started the process of building their teams. Similar activities have occurred in the food service industry, with an uptick in line cook, bartender, dishwasher, and host/hostess roles.

During the week of June 22–28, 2020, Monster reported that healthcare jobs were showing strong vital signs. Healthcare-related new job postings showed signs of getting back to normal, with an uptick in registered nurse jobs and medical and health services managers hitting pre-COVID levels of job postings.

When we hear “COVID-19,” images of overcrowded hospitals fill our heads, and then it makes you wonder why “healthcare” hiring is going “back to normal.” We tend to forget that during the last few months, many healthcare services were shuttered, as well, as such services were deemed “unessential.” Now that things are opening back up, Monster is starting to see positions for opticians, optometrists, physician assistants, and phlebotomists become high demand.

Additionally, the “warehouse worker” search trend has dropped drastically, falling out of the top five keyword searches after entering in mid-April, whereas “administrative assistant” has increased in searches for 4 weeks in a row, getting back on par with pre-COVID search rates.

One thing that remains constant during the pandemic: WFH positions haveincreased in searches and remain in the top three searched keywords on Monster, as WFH becomes standard operating procedure for many businesses as they reopen.

In early July, remote work and transportation work searches started to increase again. For the week of July 6–12, 2020, Monster data reveal that “remote” saw its highest search levels in the last 14 weeks, including an increase as a location search term, putting it in the top 10 locations searched on Monster. This spike indicates that WFH is settling in as the new normal for job search and employment. 

On par with Monster’s data, iCIMS is also finding that geographical boundaries are a thing of the past as more organizations move to virtual work arrangements. The iCIMS data show an increase in the proportion of out-of-state applicants across all segments of business.

While remote work continues to become one of the new preferred methods of employment, Monster also saw a rise in transportation-related searches. Transportation as a sector has seen its most significant increase in new jobs posted to Monster since early June, with industrial truck and tractor operators; laborers and freight, stock, and material movers (hand); heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers; and packers and packagers (hand) all seeing increases week over week.

Similarly, candidate searches for “driver” and “delivery driver” reached pre-pandemic levels during this time, whereas “food delivery” dropped to its lowest level of searches since the pandemic began in mid-March. 

Additional research from iCIMS reveals that retail hiring continues to increase. In the second quarter of 2020, iCIMS saw significant increases in both the retail and the manufacturing sectors, with an 80% and 8% increase (from the first quarter of 2020 to the second quarter) in the number of job applications per opening, respectively.

Hirings and Firings

People analytics platform Visier and recruiting services platform iCIMS both released trends they’re seeing across their various platforms, and these data reveal additional insights into the current employment landscape in the COVID era.

According to iCIMS, there were more job applications (9%) in the second quarter of 2020 than there were in the first quarter of this year. Considering we were in a candidate-driven market until about March, this should come as no surprise. And now that we’re facing such high unemployment rates, we predict the number of applications employers receive in the third quarter will be even higher.

Additionally, Visier reports that turnover is still 40% below what it was in 2019, despite the pandemic. And in the first half of June, Visier reports that involuntary turnover actually decreased as the economy started to reopen and businesses started to hire workers back on. Visier also reports that job confidence is starting to return.

While overall resignation rates are still well below 2019 values, in mid-June, resignation rates were just 34% below 2019 values, find Visier’s data. However, female resignation rates are still half of what they were in 2019, while male employees are nearly back to where they were in 2019.

On the topic of gender, iCIMS reveals additional data points related to the gender and age of jobseekers and employers that are hiring them. According to iCIMS, since May, “offers extended to women have increased nearly 50% across the job market as a whole. Additionally, in May and June, women started to increase their share of applications.”

iCIMS data also show that minority hiring activity is rebounding quickly coming out of the COVID-19 downturn. “This behavior indicates that employers are potentially prioritizing diversity and inclusion efforts throughout their hiring process,” says iCIMS.

While hiring may have picked back up in June and July, we cannot say whether this trend will last throughout the remainder of the year. As the pandemic continues to drive the way we live and work, we’re confident that pandemic-related roles will be in high demand until there is a vaccine in place that will allow us all to go back to some semblance of normal.

Suggested resource: Due to COVID-19, the need for digitizing the hiring and onboarding process has never been more important. If you’re new to virtual hiring and onboarding, we’ve got a great resource for you! Download HR’s Guide to Digital Hiring and Onboarding, to learn more.