The unemployment rate continues to decline from its high in March 2020 at the start of the coronavirus pandemic. However, there were still more than 11 million job openings reported in the U.S. at the end of January 2022, up from 7.2 million job openings a year earlier.
So why haven’t these positions been filled if so many people are looking to grow their wealth and advance their careers? One of the main issues is the coronavirus pandemic, which has drastically changed the employment landscape for many Americans. Here are some of the factors contributing to open jobs throughout the U.S.
Baby boomers retiring
The pandemic hastened the departure of the aging baby-boom generation from the workforce, and they may not be coming back. Roughly 2.5 million Americans over the age of 55 retired, including more than one million early retirements, leaving a hole in the labor force.
Pro tip: If you’re thinking about retiring or have retired recently, review your options for your retirement savings, including issues with your Social Security benefits or how to handle a 401(k) or 403(b) account from your employer.
More workers have been moving away from a traditional 9-to-5 office job into jobs with flexible hours or temporary positions. Gig workers could include freelancers, contractors, or drivers for ride-sharing companies or some of the best food delivery services that emerged during the pandemic.
Because gig workers may not be in traditional jobs, they might not be counted as part of the general workforce. And if they’re working for themselves, that means they aren’t filling an open position that has been advertised by an employer, leaving that spot unfilled.
Finding someone to care for your child while you’re working continues to be a struggle for working parents. The U.S. Census Bureau found that in the months after the first shutdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic, 19.6% of adults said they weren’t working due to childcare issues, and that issue continues to be a factor.
Demand for childcare has increased due to a decline in childcare workers, making it harder for parents to find openings for their kids at daycares and preschools. Costs have also risen, which means more parents are having to decide between staying in the workforce or quitting their jobs to become full-time stay-at-home parents.
Immigration to the United States decreased dramatically due to the pandemic and changes in American immigration policy. In fact, 2021 saw the sharpest decline in immigration in a decade, with the number of immigrants falling nearly 50% from 2020 to 2021.
And every state reported a decrease in international migration in 2021. That meant fewer people coming into the country to take positions that would normally be taken by immigrants, leaving more jobs without employees to fill them.
Automated hiring software
Hiring software has become mainstream in recent years, helping employers filter through hundreds or even thousands of resumes from potential workers. These programs, however, may also be filtering well-qualified workers from consideration for a particular position.
It can also be difficult to stand out as a remote job candidate with high demand for positions that don’t require an in-office presence. Instead, workers should consider other options like utilizing their networking options, such as contacting friends or connecting with trade groups in your industry, or updating your LinkedIn profile to make it easier for recruiters to find you.
Desire for higher wages
Inflation has caused prices to rise on products and services across the country from gas and cars to food and furniture. In order to mitigate the impact of these rising costs, some workers are looking for jobs with higher wages or better benefits.
Workers may not feel it’s necessary to take any job for any wage. With plenty of job openings, workers have decided to spend their time as an unemployed worker looking for a job that better fits their salary and benefit needs.
Working from home
During the pandemic, a wave of workers had to adjust to working from home — and many of them liked it. In fact, 83% of workers in one survey said they enjoy working remotely and 80% said they would be more likely to apply to a job that offers a remote work option.
Potential employees are looking for more work-at-home opportunities, offering them more flexibility with their time and much shorter commutes. And they’re willing to hold out for a job that can offer the situation they want.
Starting a business
The unemployment rate went up dramatically as businesses shut down or laid off workers in March 2020. For some newly unemployed workers, this change meant turning to some of the best side hustles to bring in a little more cash. Now, they’ve decided to turn that side hustle into a business, which means those workers are not applying for open jobs that companies are trying to fill.
Pro tip: Before you decide if this is an option for you, research how to start a business, focusing on factors like creating a business plan, finding funding to get your idea off the ground, and any marketing or accounting issues for your new endeavor.
COVID-19’s human toll
When looking at the latest COVID-19 statistics, it’s easy to see the destructive power this pandemic has had on the United States, which includes potential consequences on employment. More than 950,000 Americans have died due to the virus, meaning fewer workers are available to fill jobs. The virus may also have left some working-age adults with longer lasting health issues, which may prevent them from returning to the workforce.
It may be a good time to examine your current employment situation and see if there are different options for you in this changing workforce. If you’re looking for a job to grow your wealth or your career trajectory, try to find new ways to land the best job for you in this new environment. And if you’re looking for employees, consider some of the factors involved with their work decisions to see if you can find ways to make your open positions more attractive to workers.
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