For the last year, the talk of the town has been the low unemployment rate. We ended 2019 at a record low of 3.5% and maintained it through the start of 2020. Just for a refresher, that’s the lowest unemployment rate in over 50 years: a candidate’s market if we’ve ever seen one.
It was projected smooth-sailing, nowhere-to-go-but-up for our economy until the current COVID-19 pandemic set in. Millions of people have lost their jobs, and more likely will. Budgets have been slashed, and managers who are still hiring are trying to figure out how to transition into tech-savvy ways of interviewing from their respective quarantined homes. With no end date in sight, and so much uncertainty in the air, how do you plan ahead for your business needs?
FEAR NOT - in the midst of all the doom and gloom, the prospect for hiring in technology has an almost-certain light at the end of the tunnel.
Start with the facts. Over three million people filed for unemployment benefits last week; in comparison, three weeks ago it was barely 200,000. Countless people have been laid off, and many small businesses have been closed. Glassdoor senior economist Daniel Zhao told CNN, "Most historical comparisons of this scale are inadequate.The closest would be natural disasters like major hurricanes. However, as today's report shows, the coronavirus outbreak is economically akin to a major hurricane occurring in every state around the country for weeks on end.”
In fact, this surge in unemployment from the last couple weeks alone would be enough to push the unemployment rate from its previous 3.5 percent up to a staggering 5.7 percent.
Much of this depends on the industry you work in. The restaurant industry and freelance economy have both been hit hard, with many restaurants being closed and projects put on hold. While certain companies, such as CVS, Walgreens, Amazon, and 7-Eleven are looking to hire new positions (and thousands of them, from the sound of it), for things now considered essential, such as warehouse workers and store associates. Taking this a step further, we can ask ourselves this: will this change the way we prioritize certain jobs and industries?
The outlook for technology, for example, is bright. With most of the world relying on video conferencing as the main method of communication for their business and personal lives, it can hardly be a question that companies whose main outputs are digital will rise to the top. Facebook’s demand for messaging and video has increased, and Zoom’s video conferencing is now one of the most popular ways to communicate with a team. Don’t be mistaken: the technology industry will likely suffer somewhat, as the entire economy is taking a hit, but the transition into living a mostly digital life for the time-being will likely mean a lot of growth in the future.
As for where we stand now, the hiring hasn’t stopped. Forbes quotes The Financial Times, “Tech companies are still hiring feverishly as they move to take advantage of a world shifting increasingly to digital as a result of the coronavirus, despite mass lay-offs elsewhere and growing concerns over plummeting global markets.”
The moral of the story? If you’re a hiring manager in technology, don’t put your roles on hold. The light at the end of the tunnel is bright, and when the pandemonium lifts, and the hiring market explodes, you’ll want the leg-up and the luxury of already having a full and ready team.