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iCIMS February Workforce Report: A tale of unrequited love

February 19, 2024
4 min read
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February may be the month for romance, but it appears Cupid hasn’t been making too many matches within the labor market. Our February Workforce Report shows that employers are leaving candidates in the friend zone. Our other findings include:

  • The slow start to hiring in 2024
  • Gen Z’s job market takeover
  • The pulse on healthcare hiring


Are employers afraid of commitment?

Employers will be pleased to hear that January saw a surge in job growth, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. iCIMS data saw a similar spike of activity. But our findings showed that candidates displayed stronger interest than employers, who may be holding out on hiring as the economy continues to take shape.

Applications are up as well, by 13% — the highest level in at least a year. Applicants per job opening (APO) has risen to a skyscraping 30. Some important context: Even when unemployment peaked at 14%, APO was not this high. This information should make employers pause, as it suggests that the applications are likely submitted by those who are already employed.

Job openings are also strong, up 6% from January 2023. But employers may not need to fret over job hoppers too much. Why? Because hires are down 5%, suggesting employers may be playing coy as they open opportunities but remain shy of commitment.

iCIMS February Workforce Report, platform indicators


A slow start to the hiring season

Hiring is up from December, when it’s typically low due to the holidays. But hiring is down even in sectors like healthcare and retail, which are usually pushing for new talent. This shift could signal a slow-down in hiring among back-of-the-house roles, while industries continue to compete for the frontline workers they always need.

iCIMS February Workforce Report, hires by industry

Hiring in tech and manufacturing also took a hit last month. In January, hiring for tech dropped 13% year over year, while hiring within manufacturing slowed down 10% in the same period.


Gen Z wants a job

Employers looking for entry level talent are in luck. The composition of applicants skews younger for the time being: Only a third of candidates in January were over the age of 34. And 40% of the January applicant pool were between the ages of 18 and 24.

iCIMS February Workforce Report, applicants by age

As the workforce continues to get younger, employers need to think about how younger candidates will receive their recruitment marketing efforts. Gen Z job seekers want to communicate via text. They also prefer an application that takes fewer than five minutes.


Taking the pulse of healthcare hiring

Here’s the good news: Healthcare employers are getting candidates. Applications for health services jobs skyrocketed in January, up 23% year over year and almost 25% jump month over month.

Unfortunately, there’s bad news to report, as well. The candidates who are applying are not able to fill the most critical front-line roles. The number of applicants per opening for non-clinical roles hit a high in January. Employers hunting for key talent may be feeling a bit frustrated as a result.


Want more talent insights?

Download the full February Workforce Report.


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About the author

Rhea Moss

Rhea Moss is director of customer experience and data insights at iCIMS. She oversees the iCIMS Insights program, which aggregates and anonymizes the billions of data points iCIMS’ software processes per year and transforms them into actionable insights to help drive business and hiring strategies. Previously, Rhea was head of products at prescriptive data, and served as product and program managers at MongoDB and Thomson Reuters.

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