< Back to Hiring Blog

January Insights Report: Gap between job openings and applications continues to widen

February 1, 2022
iCIMS Staff
4 min read

Employers continue to roll out the red carpet for job seekers. Still, applications remained down through the end of 2021, and early indications point to more talent shortages in the year ahead, placing ever more challenges on recruiting.

According to the January iCIMS Insights report, the demand for talent continued through the end of 2021, despite seasonal slowdowns in hiring and the resurgence of COVID-19 cases. Job openings were up 86% from pre-pandemic levels.

Although employers were eager to hire, talent shortages were a challenge. Application activity was down 11% since Q1 2020.

This represents a 97-point gap, the widest seen in the last two years. And we may not see much of a reprieve this year. Early indications point to more talent shortage challenges ahead for 2022.

The January iCIMS Insights report provides an exclusive look into the latest labor market activity and trends drawn from our proprietary database of employer and job seeker activity from more than 4,000 customers.

Download the full January Insights report here to see how job seekers would still rather stay home and wear fluffy slippers than return to an office.


The state of the talent market

The gap between job openings and applications continued to widen to the largest gap seen in two years. While job openings continued their long, steady climb, application activity dropped and is now 11% below what it was in January 2020. Hires also rose 45% during that same period.

In January, the Labor Department reported that more than 4.5 million people voluntarily left their jobs in November 2021, which was up from 4.2 million in October and the most since the government started keeping track 20 years ago.

“This Great Resignation story is really more about lower-wage workers finding new opportunities in a reopening labor market and seizing them,” Nick Bunker, director of economic research at the Indeed Hiring Lab, told The New York Times.


Employers press on as pandemic surges

Employers remain eager to hire. Despite seasonal slowdowns in hiring and a resurgence of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., job opening activity is at elevated levels, according to the iCIMS Insights report.

While the number of reported COVID-19 infections surged to 4.8 million at the beginning of the year with the widespread onset of the Omicron variant, the job openings index rose despite a big dip in December.

“I think 2022 will still be a very strong year for the labor market and the economy after this Omicron disruption at the start of the year,” Julia Pollak, an economist at jobs website ZipRecruiter, told The Wall Street Journal.

 Looking to revamp your talent strategy in the new year? Here are 8 KPIs that give valuable insight into your entire talent function and empower strategic decision making.


New grads struggle to break into workforce despite labor shortage

Despite a labor shortage, the pandemic has made breaking into the workforce even more challenging for recent grads. The good news is that the numbers indicate things started to improve last year.

According to the report, 29% more new college grads (2020 and 2021) were hired last year than the year prior. But 2019 grads are still landing more jobs than both younger cohorts.

Also, the largest group of candidates applying for jobs has shifted to 18-24-year-old job seekers, who now comprise one third of all applicants.


Women are back in the workforce

After comprising a smaller percentage of applicants in the second half of 2020, women applicants are back to within 1% of their pre-pandemic levels one year later.

Dubbed the “she-cession,” many women who dropped out of the workforce at the start of the pandemic for safety measures or to take care of their children are starting to return. The number of women applicants dropped from 52% at the start of 2020 to 45% by the end of the year. The number has been steadily rising and hit 51% of job applicants at the end of last year.


New applicants embrace remote work but employers are not as sure

The report also showed that job seekers would rather be home wearing slippers than suiting up and heading to an office – but employers are less-than-enthusiastic.

One in 5 applicants was from an out-of-state applicant but hires of out-of-state applicants are only half that amount. It looks like companies are still hoping to skip over the last two years and go back to whiteboards and conference rooms.

You can download the full January Insights report here to see the current state of the talent market based on our proprietary database of employer and job seeker activity from more than 4,000 customers.   

Join our growing community

and receive free tips on how to attract, engage, hire, & advance the best talent.

privacy notice

Explore categories

Explore categories

Back to top

Learn how iCIMS can help you attract, engage, hire, and advance the best talent

Read more about Generational workforce

iCIMS Insights May Workforce Report: The summer market is shaping up

Read more

iCIMS February Workforce Report: A tale of unrequited love

Read more

Beyond the Hype: The Essential Need for Fair and Compliant AI Hiring

Read more