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November jobs numbers overall ‘very positive for the economy’: expert

Steve Lucas — CEO of iCIMS, a talent cloud company — joins Yahoo Finance Live to discuss the November jobs report.

Video Transcript

MYLES UDLAND: All right, welcome back to Yahoo Finance Live. Jobs numbers just out, 245,000 jobs created or really, added back to the economy in the month of November. Unemployment rate at 6.7%. Joining us now to talk a bit more about the jobs report, we're joined by Yahoo Finance's Brian Cheung, as well as Steve Lucas. He is the CEO at iCIMS.

Steve, thanks for joining the show today. I'd love to begin with you and just some of the trends that you're seeing in your business as it relates to kind of the data we've seen, slowing growth in the pace of hiring and how that's looking on your end.

STEVE LUCAS: Yeah, I think, you know, the November jobs report, part of that was a little disappointing in that we saw the jobs slightly lower than what analysts expected, but I think the market, overall, largely absorbing that today. But you know, really, part of that is November, traditionally slower, number one. What we're seeing within our customer base-- we have 4,000 of the world's largest companies using iCIMS to build their workforce using our recruiting platform, so we get to see a very unique kind of second set of data that just-- it isn't in the payroll report. It's not there.

And that's really intent to hire and that's job openings, on the left hand. And on the right hand is applicant activity, and that's more of the-- kind of a-- almost a consumer confidence report at the individual level. And so those numbers are very, very different, what we're seeing out of these-- these large companies across the world.

So we're seeing-- in November of 2019, we saw job openings up 10% year-over-year. Now, that's more of a lead indicator. What we saw today or this morning is more of a lag indicator. So there is some positive news in that I think intent to hire, it looks up.

At the same time, you've got applicants which are more hesitant, I think, to apply right now than what we've seen. So there's a bit of a widening gap, so it creates some question marks around what are we going to see in the future. But overall, I do think it's positive. I think we're continuing to see unemployment go down overall.

Now, you called out earlier in the segment that we still have, you know, 10 million-plus, 10.7 million unemployed people. And Anthony just commented we've got a long way to go. But seeing these numbers overall, in concert, I think they're very positive for the economy.

JULIE HYMAN: And Steve, talk to me about what kinds of jobs are listed through using your software because, as you probably also heard, we've been talking a lot about this K-shaped recovery. So are they more low-wage jobs? Are they high-wage jobs? For those that are, what kinds of trends are you seeing there?

STEVE LUCAS: Yeah, that's a great question. I think first of all, when you look at this, if you want to call it kind of job growth at this point-- and it is. It's very, very modest, I'll emphasize that. And at the same point in time, we have to be focused on the individual that's concerned about am I going to get my job back? Am I going to have health care between now and then? So that's incredibly important.

But in this kind of recovery that we've seen since the bottoming out of the jobs market-- remember, we lost 20 million jobs if you go back to the beginning of the pandemic. And yes, we've gained back 10 million. We still have a long way to go.

The reality is, it's a very asymmetric recovery right now. It's uneven industry by industry. If you look at retail pulled back very, very quickly in the kind of March to May time frame. But we've seen this sustained recovery there, even though we're seeing a little softness in November. The holiday hiring, it is behind last year, also, about 10%, but overall, it continues to help.

If you look at other industries like hospitality, transportation, they continue to be incredibly challenged. But look at tech. Look at health care. Even in pockets of manufacturing, we're seeing sustained job growth there. So there's this very uneven or asymmetric kind of set of jobs going on.

And I think that that implies where we're going as an economy. Where we're going is we're not going to see all 10 million jobs that we need to go get come back the way they were before the pandemic. So we're going to need to see those, and they will come. In areas like STEM-specific jobs, that's one big area, to your question, where we're seeing a lot of sustained growth.

But I think it's going to continue to be mixed kind of by zip code, by industry SIC codes, or industry. So I think it's-- rather than calling it uneven, I think it's a good way to think about it is asymmetric across all of these different industries. And until, as Anthony called out, when the vaccine starts to hit over the next six months, we'll start to see more sustained recovery, but we're still going to see unevenness in the market.

BRIAN SOZZI: Steve, how important do you think a massive job retraining program under the Biden administration will be?

STEVE LUCAS: Paramount, Paramount, Paramount. We are not going back to the way the economy was before COVID. It's not going to happen. I mean, you've called it out, you know, prior to this. Its remote work. It's things that are going on.

And granted, the economy and jobs overall, very, very broad in the labor market. So the warehouse worker's going to be wondering, when do I get my job back, obviously, on the left hand. But jobs retraining, upskilling, reskilling, that's happening right now, and it's happening across corporate America. Also worldwide, companies are looking to upskill and reskill their employees.

We're seeing massive numbers or increase in STEM hiring with nontraditional workers. So we're seeing people hired into STEM jobs, computer administration, IT administration. In July, that was up 50% year-over-year, the hiring trends there, for non-STEM job-- non-STEM degreed employees.

That's very, very significant. It tells me, and should tell us or give us a clue, that we're seeing companies look to those nontraditional workers to get them in STEM jobs and give them the skills and training they need. Under the Biden administration, we absolutely need that. Between now and then, we're also going to need some sort of stimulus package.

No matter what anybody says, we still have a lot of disproportionately affected communities. We need this right now. But back to the upskilling, retraining, et cetera, I think it's paramount across the country that it's time to get our workforce into this kind of century and beyond, and there's no better time to do it than now.

JULIE HYMAN: Steve, I also want to ask you, when we talk about communities that have been disproportionately hit by all this, of course, we have talked about communities of color as well. And just looking at the jobs report today, Black unemployment 10.3, still elevated. Hispanic unemployment 8.4%. So when you are dealing with your clients, are they focused more on diverse hires? And when you're hiring remotely, are you trying to find ways to sort of facilitate finding those diverse candidates?

STEVE LUCAS: Well, so absolutely we are. I think first of all, what I find super encouraging is most CEOs that I talk to, they are leaning in right now on how do we drive diversity, equity, and inclusion? It's a big question and something that we need to answer as a society, not just economically.

The reality is, is that while people are leaning in, there's still a lot of question marks. You know, I've heard some-- some disheartening statements in the news lately from different leaders saying things that-- you know, just nonsensical things like, you know, there's not enough talent out there. The reality is there's plenty of talent in communities of color, certainly, and beyond.

What we're not seeing enough of yet is companies lean in across the board and build a very deliberate strategy, on the left hand, within their own company to make this happen. But then partnering with historically Black colleges and universities as an analog is something that needs to be happening right now. And beyond that, it's a partnership with government. We need to make sure that corporate America is partnering, especially under the new administration, to find new ways to bring jobs into these disproportionately affected communities.

I'm a big believer in making sure that that retraining that we called out earlier that that happens all the more so in these communities. We have an incredibly rich and diverse amount of skill and talent there. We just need to provide the training, and we need to provide the opportunity. It's achievable.

And here at iCIMS, we're partnering with companies daily building their diversity and inclusion strategies. But it's something that it's going to be-- it's not a point in time. This is a sustained effort. It is that-- that movement, not a moment. So I think we're going to need to see people really lean and commit long term.

MYLES UDLAND: All right, Steve Lucas is the CEO of iCIMS. Steve, thanks for joining the show. Great to have you on on this jobs Friday.

STEVE LUCAS: Thank you.