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iCIMS Workforce Report: Hiring Activity Dips for First Time in 8 Months

December 28, 2021
iCIMS Staff
4 min read
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After months of dwindling job applications, the talent shortage is beginning to take a toll on hiring activity, according to iCIMS data, and forcing talent acquisition pros to dig a little deeper as we chug toward the end of the calendar year. 

The start of Q4 saw the number of hires in the overall workforce dip for the first time in eight months, according to the iCIMS November Workforce Report. Hiring activity steadily increased until October, despite the gap between surging job openings and the lagging number of applications. But iCIMS data showed recent hiring up only 66% from the start of the year, down from 71% the month earlier.  

Job openings also fell to 80% in October, compared to the jump to 86% the previous month, but job applications were up during the same month span from 3% to 8%. While different sectors of the economy showed various job opening and hiring activity, job applications were at or below January 2021 levels for all. 

The November 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.  

One consistent trend across all sectors was the age shift in job applicants.  

The majority of applicants is skewing younger 

Gen Z continues to make its mark on the economy (they’re not just canceling skinny jeans). As of October 2021, females aged 18 to 24  made up the largest job applicant pool, followed by their male 18- 24-year-old counterparts. This swath of would-be workers falls into the generation coined Gen Z, defined as being born between 1997-2012.  

This skews the largest group of job seekers even younger than before the pandemic when 25- to 34-year-old job seekers made up the largest group of job applicants. 

Learn how to navigate the new talent economy and successfully hire Gen Z professionals. Watch the webinar here. 

Here are some of the highlights of how various job sectors looked in November and how it’s impacting talent acquisition.

Retail hiring remains strong despite ongoing labor shortage 

Holiday hiring is in full swing, which was reflected in October when hiring spiked, with data showing a 135% increase since the start of the year. 

While hiring soared, applications for retail positions dropped 20% since the start of the year. Overall, applications per opening were down 33% since pre-pandemic (October 2019), with about 13 applicants per opening.  

In an interview with The New York Times, a chief executive of Macy’s said, “Everyone’s experiencing this – there’s a war for talent at the front lines. My sense is we all have to raise our game.” 

Manufacturing hiring lags behind rest of the market 

Despite continued demand for labor, hiring activity in the manufacturing industry has been up only 43% since the start of the year, our data showed. This may be due to the low application activity, with applicants per opening down 23% from pre-pandemic levels (October 2019). Data from October of this year showed 22 applicants per job opening, and the number of job openings dipped slightly to 69%. 

Hiring for tech roles remains challenging 

The numbers showed that hiring for tech jobs remains tricky due to a stagnant application rate. There is a 36-point gap between openings and hires for tech roles, which is more than double the gap of the overall market. While job openings increased to 59%, job openings dropped to 23%. 

Application activity to these roles has been nearly the same since the start of the year, but applicants per opening are down 13% from pre-pandemic (October 2019). Data showed 26 applicants per tech job opening.

Download our guide to learn the tools you can use today to help you hire for speed, quality, and diversity in a talent shortage.

Finance organizations are hiring despite labor shortage 

Hiring activity remains mostly steady in the finance industry despite applications below January 2021 levels. 

The number of openings rose slightly, up 42%, while applications have been down 2% since the start of the year. Like other industries, employers in this sector are receiving fewer applicants per opening, with a 17% decrease since October 2019.

Healthcare openings are on the rise (again) 

Employers in the healthcare industry strain to hire workers amid falling application activity. Applications have declined steadily for the last three months and are now below January 2021 levels. 

Applicants per opening also continue to decrease, now 35% lower than pre-pandemic. 


You can download the full November Insights report to see how the labor shortage is beginning to take a toll on hiring across all sectors by the number.  


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