It was another good month for job growth and unemployment, yet the talent market remains tight as ever. In a recent speech, Fed chair Jerome H. Powell characterized the current conditions as "extremely tight, significantly tighter than the very strong job market just before the pandemic,” even going so far as to claim that, right now, it's reached an unhealthy level.

Here, we'll walk you through the numbers that led to that assessment, and provide insights into what you can do right now as an employer to turn it around and find talent.

marching along

The economy added 431,000 new jobs in March, while the unemployment rate decreased yet again to 3.6 percent. Major job gains occurred in sectors like:

  • services to buildings and dwellings (+22,000)
  • accounting and bookkeeping services (+18,000)
  • management and technical consulting services (+15,000)
  • computer systems design and related services (+12,000)
  • scientific research and development services (+5,000)

For the first time in a long time, however, all this hiring activity may actually be too much. Unemployment claims have continued to drop, with fewer people filing for unemployment today than at any time since 1969. While the quits rate has been steadily declining, there are still 1.7 job openings for every unemployed person. This competition, combined with high inflation, has pushed up wages. As of last month, Randstad saw the average wage increase significantly for workers in:

  • business services (+17.9%)
  • security and commodity brokers (+16.6%)
  • health services (+15.1%)
  • depository institutions (+8.4%)

However, even if your company has the flexibility to match rising wages, finding talent in today's market remains a challenge. Employers will need to engage untapped talent pools in order to make up the difference.

welcome back women with new benefits

Women experienced disproportionate job losses over the course of the pandemic and are still down 2.1 million jobs since February 2020. In fact, unemployed women experienced as much as a 40 percent increase in the time it takes to find a new job, while men experienced an increase of just 27 percent.

Welcoming women back into the workforce will be key to solving the current talent shortage for employers. In order to do so, however, they'll have to ensure their benefits match women's current work preferences.

Childcare, for starters, is a highly sought-after benefit for many women — yet only nine percent of U.S. companies offered childcare stipends or benefits to their employees during the pandemic. With women often being primary caregivers, a lack of childcare support is a major barrier that's preventing them from returning to work.

Tangentially related to childcare, but still a robust benefit all its own, is the provision of flexible working arrangements. Where possible, remote work has been a popular preference with job seekers, with 57 percent of them saying they'd prefer to work remotely on a full-time basis. This flexibility is especially important for working mothers, however, as it enables them to more easily balance personal and work obligations.

finding work for refugees in need

With the Biden administration's recent announcement that the U.S. would accept 100,000 refugees from Ukraine, the stage is set for employers to step up and provide work opportunities to incoming refugees. As an example, Randstad recently launched a Ukrainian edition of its jobs portal, with links to country-specific jobs sites for refugees who have landed in Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany, Poland, Portugal and Spain, and is one of nearly 50 employers that signed the Tent Partnership for Refugees pledge to provide both short- and long-term support for displaced Ukrainians.

In addition to providing financial support, mental healthcare and employment opportunities to the fleeing families of Ukrainian employees in Poland, Randstad also pledged to directly support an additional 1,500 people seeking refuge in Poland by helping them to find employment as well as offering material support, covering the costs of accommodation, childcare and upskilling.

While these efforts are already underway in Europe, U.S.-based companies need to start putting their own plans into action and find the best ways to leverage their existing resources to help incoming Ukrainian refugees secure employment.

the bottom line 

It turns out you can have too much of a good thing. Another month of positive job growth and declining unemployment has done little to ease talent woes for employers — If anything, the talent market is tighter today than it has been in decades.

In order to continue attracting and retaining talent, employers will need to keep pace with rising wages and widen hiring to include groups that are currently underrepresented on the job market.

For more hiring tips to help you navigate today's tight talent market, visit Randstad's Business Insights page.