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Recruiter.com CEO: ‘People are unemployed and the jobs are there’

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Evan Sohn, Recruiter.com Chairman and CEO, joins Yahoo Finance to discuss the imbalance in the labor market and what job candidates care about most when evaluating new opportunities.

Video Transcript

- Let's turn our attention back to the jobs number that we got out this morning. Certainly a disappointment when you consider that the expectation here was for roughly 733,000 jobs expected. That number coming in at 235,000 instead. Retail lost jobs in the month of August, down about 29,000.

Let's bring in Evan Sohn. is Recruiter.com chairman and CEO.

And Evan, of course, you've been watching this space very closely. Looking at the hiring side of things, how surprising is that number we got today when you consider what you've been watching?

EVAN SOHN: So, you know, it's always good to have this in hindsight. Our recruiter index, which we survey our recruiters monthly to get their sentiment, actually pointed to some very interesting trends that really came alive this morning with the jobs report. First off, we saw that back-fill jobs went from 40% of the jobs that recruiters are working on to 44%. What that really means is while we're all looking at the 240,000 jobs that were added, there were many, many thousands and thousands of people-- probably millions of people-- actually hired during the month of August. But only 235,000 of those were actually new jobs.

So people are moving left and right. When we talk about the great resignation, that really means people resigning from one job and taking another job. That's a back-fill. That's not a new job.

Our recruiter index also showed-- I think we had 0 in food and beverage and negative 2 in hospitality. So we really saw those numbers really coming up. And we were kind of prepared for that number to actually happen. It was negative 2 in hospitality and 0 in food and beverage on a month-over-month.

So we also saw the work-life balance as a priority increased from 15% of a priority to 20%. So what that really tells you-- and the call to action here is-- you know, the people are unemployed and the jobs are there. So where is the imbalance? And the imbalance has to be that we're not able to attract those candidates-- the people that are sitting on the sidelines back to actually coming back to the office.

And I think what we are starting to recommend to our clients is to really get creative. And when you see a number like work-life balance come up as a priority-- and we've always been trending compensation and remote work as sort of the number one and two. And those are kind of the obvious ones. I need a higher paying job, and I don't want to work remote, I only want to work hybrid.

But work-life balance. How do I do that? How do I attract people? That work-life balance, companies really have to start getting creative when they're now trying to attract those candidates back to the office. And I think this morning's job report is really a call to action-- the economy, corporations-- to really figure out how to really get that message across to those candidates in a more creative fashion.

- What kind of challenge do those priorities you've just highlighted, that employees have, present to some of these sectors that we saw a lot of weakness in? If you look at something in leisure and hospitality, it's not necessarily one that a lot of people think about as a flexible one. It is, in many ways, one where you have to show up every day instead of doing a hybrid. What does that mean in terms of their ability to fill these jobs when workers are looking for something that's not quite there?

EVAN SOHN: I completely agree with you. You know, I said the other day, every candidate in this country is more valuable today than they were a few months ago. And that's from the CEO or the experienced Java programmer in Buffalo, New York, to the person willing to walk into a factory. Everyone is now more valuable.

And I think people are beginning to recognize that they're more valuable. We saw salaries increase slightly. We saw Walmart announced this morning an increase in overall hourly wages.

The candidate-- it is a candidate market today. The work-from-anywhere. But it really is a candidates' market.

And I think companies have to start being able to address those candidates with what they need, whether it's additional incentives, whether it's upskilling, tuition imbursement, et cetera, to really meet the candidates at where they want. Because, look, the jobs are there, and people are going to have to return to work.

You know, as we say all the time-- certainly the last couple of weeks-- there are more open jobs in this country than there are candidates who are unemployed. And we certainly have to figure out how to close that gap.

- We've got the extra unemployment benefits expiring this weekend. How big of a lift do you anticipate that will provide to the labor market? Some businesses, who early on said that was the reason why the workers weren't coming back to the market, seem to now say, look, we're realizing that it's much more complicated than that.

EVAN SOHN: I was going to say, it's much more complicated than that. You know, we all wish that there was a magic bullet. Oh, I got a vaccine, I'm going back to work. Oh, Labor Day is over, I'm going back to work. Oh, unemployment benefits are over, now I'm going back to work.

The answer is there is no one reason. There are lots of motivating factors. And I think one of them is that productivity levels were actually pretty high. So companies were doing more with less.

So I think there's also that overall balance. You know, why doesn't every company go out and raise wages? But then, you're seeing employees say, hey, it's not just about wage increase, it's about a work-life balance.

So when you have companies that say, you know, thou shalt return to work in person, if their labor force says, no, I don't want to, gee, there is an imbalance there. And I think the old school ways are just not going to work anymore. And we got to be thinking creatively to really bridge this overall gap. And there's going to be lots of different opportunities and lots of different ways that we're going to try to experiment to really get this labor force back working.

- Evan Sohn, Recruiter.com chairman and CEO, good to talk to you. Certainly pointing to the complications of getting or accelerating the recovery here in the labor market. Have a good week.