Karin Kimbrough, LinkedIn Chief Economist, joins Yahoo Finance Live to breakdown September's jobs report, the future of work post-COVID and more.
- This is Yahoo Finance Live. We continue to dig through the jobs report and the reaction to it and the interpretations of it. With us now is Karen Kimbrough, LinkedIn chief economist. Karen, it's good to see you. Thanks for being with us. I would ask, first of all, your reaction to the jobs report given what you've been seeing in the LinkedIn data and whether you were surprised by it or it sort of comports with what you've been seeing.
KAREN KIMBROUGH: So we did expect that the data would come in a little bit under consensus-- that is to say, we didn't think we'd get 500,000 in non-farm payrolls-- thought it would be a little shy of that. It's probably a bit more than we were expecting.
And what it tells me is, largely, that we're on this slow, but steady, pace forward in terms of labor market healing. And I think the emphasis here is on slow because if we go at this pace, it's two more years before we get back all the jobs that we want. So that's the downside.
The upside, of course, is that we are seeing, for example, African-American unemployment rates start to improve a little bit faster and pick up in the sense that they're getting better and aligning with white unemployment rates. So that's good news. But there's-- it's sort of a mix of good and bad, right, because the women's labor force participation rates are a little disappointing. And we're seeing also, you know, a sign that maybe we're not bringing back enough jobs in the sectors where there's still a lot of jobs missing.
- Karen, Julie just brought up a good point earlier on about women leaving the workforce. How big a headwind is that right now to the jobs market recovery?
KAREN KIMBROUGH: So I think it's actually a pretty big headwind because until you have consistent childcare, until you have kids that are in school that you can be pretty sure they're not going to have to get sent home for any particular reason, like a COVID outbreak, women may be reluctant to go ahead and commit to a full-time job. And I think that's a lot of what's holding people back, particularly women.
And when you look at people who we call our marginally attached to the workforce-- so people-- and this is in the data-- people who, you know, might have been looking for a job, but recently haven't been, but would like to work, I think a lot of that captures women who are a little bit caught up with all of the sort of-- you know, the wake of COVID that's left them holding extra burden. So I do think that's a bit of a drag, and we've got to fix that in order to get everyone back working.
- I'm curious, Karen, because it seems like we keep hearing from companies that they are not finding the workers that they need. But at the same time, I wonder how much-- sort of how genuine that is. In other words, we know that some companies have cut back and have figured out how to make do with less. So are you guys seeing a decrease in postings on-- or not a decrease, but maybe a decrease in the rate of postings? Talk to me about what-- how you view that question.
KAREN KIMBROUGH: Sure. Well, it's interesting. Actually, what we've seen, and this is pretty consistent since the beginning of the year, is a really strong increase in job postings. So postings have actually-- right now are double what they were pre-pandemic-- so before COVID even hit. We have now twice as many job openings on our platform.
So at LinkedIn, this is a very positive sign, of course. Employers are back. They're ready to go. And yes, they are saying that it's really hard to hire.
We actually see that the time to hire is shortening, which suggests there's an eagerness by employers to go ahead and seal the deal. And I think by job seekers-- they're being choosier. They are looking for exactly what they want. They've had a year and a half to sit at home and think about it. And now they're only applying for the jobs that really make the heart sing, so to speak.
So I think, all in all, there's a lot of signs that actually point to a very tight labor market. There's a lot of seeking on the-- by the employers. There's a lot of turnover. We can see in our own data that turnover is much higher than it was a year ago or even two years ago. So people are rotating and moving around. That's also a sign of a healthy market.
So all in all, you know, really, I don't see this jobs report quite as negatively, I think, as some others do. I think there's still a lot of glimmers of hope.
- Karen, within the listings, these increased listings you are seeing, what are some of the skills that employers are looking for? And is it just that employers are looking for too much and this-- these pool of workers that are out there just don't have these new skills?
KAREN KIMBROUGH: There is some-- there's always an element of skills mismatch that can hold, you know, employment back, where people don't have exactly the right skills for what the employer is looking for. And I think sometimes, employers are putting onto the job postings the most aspirational set of skills and experience that they would like to see.
Now, what we know at LinkedIn is that often, being-- having a kind of a skills-first approach, where you focus more on what skills you think the employee can bring or what skills the employee potentially can develop, are probably the most-- it's easiest way to kind of make the match between employer/employee and get someone hired.
And to answer your question, the skills that we see right now most in demand are threefold. 1, it's going to be what you might call-- excuse me-- soft skills-- so communication, negotiation, leadership, management, all the things that, basically, a computer cannot do-- having tough conversations.
2, it's going to be digital skills. And by the way, they can be disruptively digital skills, like cloud computing and AI, machine learning. But they can also be very, you know-- is kind of normal digital skills. It could be I can manipulate a computer to use video conferencing. I can use the chat function on my computer. Those are basic digital skills that also are being sought.
And then 3, in addition to soft skills and digital skills, they're also looking for sort of analytical skills, a lot of analysis and, basically, data management. So those are the three categories we see the most demand for.
- All right. Karen, thank you so much for being here-- really interesting stuff there, and useful information for people to know if they are looking for jobs right now. Karen Kimbrough is LinkedIn chief economist. Thanks, Karen.