Hiring Outlook Improves as Skilled Worker Shortage Drops

By Stefano Tromba
July 28, 2020

“It’s hard to find good work these days”. Well, it may be getting easier. A recent “Business Conditions Survey”, indicates that Covid-19 helped reduce the skilled worker shortage.

The findings are based on a survey of 104 NABE (National Association for Business Economics) members. It shows that 16% reported skilled labor shortages. Compare that to an April report citing 21% and signs are clearly improving. Furthermore, those reporting shortages in unskilled labor saw a 5% drop, from 8% to 3%.

Improved Economic Outlook

The report had a slightly improved outlook on overall economic conditions, than it had in previous months and signs are optimistic. “Respondents in this survey report a significant snapback in expectations from the depths reached across nearly all categories in April, suggesting that the economy and business operating environment are no longer in quicksand after the Covid-19 lockdowns in the United States and elsewhere,” said NABE Business Conditions Survey Chair Megan Greene, senior fellow, Harvard Kennedy School.

Respondents’ outlooks for the next three months improved for sales, profit margins, prices, employment and capital spending. Compare that to the second quarter of 2020 which was considered as the worst since the 2008 for sales, price and capital spending.

The Future of Hiring

The outlook for hiring improved in the new survey, with 22% of those participating, saying they anticipate increases in employment at their firms. That’s up 1% in the April survey. We’ll take it!  However, nearly a fifth of respondents indicated their firms reduced wages and salaries in Q2.

“Firms have imposed a number of special measures to limit the negative financial impact of Covid-19 on their firms, including freezing hiring and terminating and furloughing employees,” Greene said. “One in three firms has resumed normal operations, but nearly as many respondents say they don’t expect their firms to return to normal operations for more than six months.”

Finally, in what has turned out to be the legacy of the coronavirus, NABE’s report found that 80% of companies expect employees to remain working remotely (to some degree) post pandemic.

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