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We've Reached the Bottom: U.S. Hiring Trends in Response to COVID-19

May 20, 2020

Data is an increasingly powerful tool. It can help us determine where to turn as we navigate a shifting job market and establish new norms to move our business forward.

Our talent acquisition software processes more than 3 million job postings, 75 million applications, and 4 million hires per year across 200+ countries and territories. We’re able to aggregate and anonymize this information into a wealth of real-time hiring trends, providing employers a deeper understanding of the job market ahead of government labor data. This is critical in making business and hiring decisions, especially in today’s climate.

In this video, Rhea Moss, our manager of engineering, shares a look into the latest U.S. hiring trends in response to COVID-19:



Insights highlighted include:

  • Where we were: 2020 began with an incredibly strong job market; Businesses were growing, and they were hiring more than they had in 2019. In the first two months of 2020, we saw a few dips in hiring activity related to COVID-19 fears, but it remained mostly steady until the U.S. declared a national emergency on March 13, 2020. At that point, those increases quickly evaporated, and hires have mostly been declining steadily for the past two months. However, we have seen some promising developments in the past few weeks.
  • Company size matters: While companies of all sizes started reacting mid-March, the decline of small business (under 250 employees) hiring activity was initially the sharpest, after a couple months of expansion in the beginning of the year. Enterprise businesses (more than 10,000 employees) did not see their most dramatic decrease of hiring until April. Mid-size (250-2,499 employees) and large businesses (2,500-9,999 employees) slid steadily downward until mid-April. Our data indicates that we’ve reached the bottom of the downturn, as we’re seeing signs of gradual improvement.
  • Industry impact varies: Effects of COVID-19 on hires have not impacted all industries equally, presenting potential opportunities for business planning. When analyzing openings and hires data for six weeks preceding and the six weeks after March 13, some of the least affected industries include wholesale trade; holding and investment offices; engineering, accounting, research and management services; health services; business services, which includes most software companies; and food and kindred products.
  • Employers are cautious to return to business: Employers preemptively curtailed hiring activity as COVID-19 spread but have been cautious to ramp up hiring activity as they scan the environment for a sign of returning to “normal.” As the curve begins to flatten, we expect that there will be a window of a week or so in which hiring activity will respond. It will be imperative for employers to keep their eye here in order to build workforce needs.
  • There are early signs of a rebound: iCIMS job openings data is usually a leading indicator of hires; in the last few weeks we’ve seen an early, potentially positive sign with openings beginning to tick up across most industries. Educational services, real estate, health services, and more, have turned the corner. This data only represents a single week, so we can’t say if the economy is rebounding quite yet. However, it is positive news we will continue to monitor—historically, when we see openings rise there is a corresponding uptick in hires six weeks later.

Now, more than ever, data is critical for employers. Stay up to date with our latest insights to help guide your business through this transformative time.



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