Job Insights for First Quarter 2018 Show Optimism for the New Year

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

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

Businesses are optimistic about a strong start to 2018.
With a slight increase over the fourth quarter of 2017, 91% of respondents said they expect either an upward trend in hiring or to at least maintain current levels during the first quarter of the new year. Only 9% expect their employment activity to trend downward, which represents a 2% decrease quarter over quarter.

Thirty-four percent of hiring activity will take place in the “General Labor” segment, followed by skilled labor/industrial (27%), administrative/office clerical (21%), and accounting/finance (7%).

The survey also revealed which segments will create the most new positions in the first quarter. The top three include marketing, information technology, and engineering.

The skills gap remains a top challenge.
Although there are reasons to be optimistic about hiring in the new year, access to skilled workers remains a major challenge. It’s a job seekers’ market as businesses continue to feel the pain of the ever-widening skills gap. Top talent with the right mix of experience and expertise is at a premium, and companies must be willing to adjust in order to attract them.

In fact, only 20% of respondents said all their positions are filled with the top three reasons for open jobs being lack of applicants with experience (35%), lack of applicants in general (35%), and lack of applicants with hard skills (21%).

Top 3 reasons qualified candidates turn down job offers:

  • Not the perfect fit: 34%
  • Low pay: 31%
  • Lack of advancement/opportunity: 17%

“The overall optimism about the first quarter of 2018 is encouraging, but the biggest challenge we continue to see isn’t a lack of jobs, but a lack of qualified and available workers. I see that challenge only growing as we head deeper into 2018.” – Bob Funk, CEO of Express Employment Professionals. 

Addressing “barriers to employment” is more important than ever.
Despite the necessary skills and qualifications, there are many barriers that may force a qualified candidate to turn down a job offer. As the talent pool becomes more competitive, companies that are open to adjusting their policies and procedures to help job seekers overcome some of these “barriers to employment” will have the upper hand in the talent war.

The Job Insights survey participants identified several of the major barriers to employment, including inflexible scheduling (15%), lack of benefits (15%), lack of transportation (12%), and no child care available (7%).

“In a growing economy, it can be easy to forget about those who are unemployed. So many want to work, but there are key barriers that stand between them and a regular paycheck. Going forward, it will be more important for businesses to consider ways to help address those barriers to attract and retain top talent” – Bob Funk, CEO of Express Employment Professionals

Although there will be challenges in the new year, the overall positive sentiments about the new year bode well for 2018. Only time will tell how the year will ultimately unfold, but there’s reason to be optimistic.

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