Category Archives: Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Do You Know About the Hourly Workforce?

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Here’s an eye opener:

“As of 2014, hourly workers make up 56.7 percent of the United States workforce. Think about that for a moment. More than half of all people working the U.S. make an hourly wage. That’s 77.2 million workers aged 16 and up. Yet there is little data to be found about the hourly worker. The U.S. Census publishes a total number of hourly workers and breaks that number down by very broad age characteristics, full-time vs. private sector and race. But that’s all. The segment is so ignored that even the monthly unemployment report doesn’t categorize the workforce by salary vs hourly. The U.S. Department of Labor recognizes them only in an annual report on minimum wage workers. To understand the majority of laborers in the United States, we are left to guess.”

redeapp is changing this through the commission of a series surveys and reports from Edison Research. The first, Profile of The Hourly Worker: Demographics, Devices and Disconnection, crossed my desk right before the end of 2015. And it’s pretty interesting.

Redeapp provides private and secure communications platforms that connect companies with their hourly, front-line employees and those without company email access. So they have a vested interest in having a deep understanding of this segment of the workforce. What they’ve found, in some cases, seems counter-intuitive. Like this, for example:

Profile of Hourly Worker 1.png

If the data are to be believed, more than 30% of the U.S.’s hourly workforce has 1-3 years of college or more – with fully 24% having some graduate credits or an advanced degree! I would not have expected that 49% of our hourly worker population would have a 4-year college degree – or a high school degree and some college credits.

Another surprise: email is used by this segment of the workforce multiple times each day in their general work responsibilities. But here’s the rub: only 50% of this segment have an email address provided by their employer. And 42% report that they use their personal email account for work communication either sometimes or often. How many liabilities and risks can we count here?

Given that scenario, this chart becomes very interesting:

Profile of Hourly Worker 2

The risk and control issues that exist in an un-secured corporate communication environment are quite large. Clearly, understanding hourly workers and how to communicate with them is a priority for organizations that employ this segment of the workforce. And perhaps, this segment of the workforce isn’t quite what you pictured.

Take a look at this survey report. It’ll make you think about your communication strategies. In a good way.

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Filed under Big Data and HR, Bureau of Labor Statistics, China Gorman, Corporate Risk Management, Data Point Tuesday, Employee Demographics, Employee Loyalty, Hourly Workers, HR Analytics, HR Data, redeapp, Strategic Workforce Planning, Uncategorized, Workforce Management

From the Archives: We can’t succeed without Millennials

This was a very popular post from April, 2012. The data is pretty much the same. And it bears repeating.

Managers and supervisors (especially in the Baby Boomer cohort) in almost every type and size of business have been known to lament the lack of loyalty and so-called business savvy in the Millennial generation.

  • “They want to be promoted too fast!”
  • “They don’t want to pay their dues!”
  • “They don’t understand how things work!”
  • “They want too much flexibility!”
  • “When things don’t go their way they quit!”
  • “Why won’t they stay?”

The bottom line is that organizations are finding it challenging to keep Millennials engaged and on the payroll.  In fact, with the average employment tenure of workers in the 20-24 year -old age group at 1.5 years (per the BLS), it’s challenging to keep all our employees engaged and the on the payroll.  (See my previous post on the Quits vs. Layoffs gap.  It might not be what you think!)

Achievers and Experience Inc. fielded their annual survey of graduating college students in January.  The data are eye opening.

Despite what we think we know about them, the vast majority of these about-to-enter-the-workforce Milllennials would really like to stay with their next (in most cases, first) employer for 5 years or longer!  Wait.  What?  Look at the chart below:

47% of the 8,000 college graduating respondents in the Achievers/Experience Inc. survey indicated that they expected to stay with their next employer five years or longer.  Note the language:  expect to stay not would like to stay!  That means when they join our organizations they have every expectation of making a career with us.  They’re not just accepting a job.  They’ve evaluated our EVP (Employer Value Proposition) as a match for the meaning they want to create in their lives through their work.  (Interesting to note that the biggest percentage of respondents expect to stay with their employer for 10+ years!)

So, OK.  This has got to be their youthful exuberance and relative inexperience speaking, right?  Well, I wonder if that really matters.

Employers need these Millennials.  Employers need these Millennials now.  Employers will need these Millennials more every day.  (See my recent post here.)

And employers need them to stay a whole lot longer than 1.5 years!

So what happens between “I expect to stay with my employer for 10 or more years…” and “…after one year with the organization I’m leaving for a better opportunity”?  I think we all know that answer to that question.

We don’t live up to the EVP we sold them.  We don’t engage Millennials the way they tell us they want to be engaged.  Instead, we…

  • make sure they fit into our existing career paths and job descriptions
  • focus on making sure they “pay their dues” – the way we did
  • keep our processes and rules rigid and unbending – and only pretend to listen when they offer up “different” ways of working
  • resist the notion that work can be done with excellence anywhere but in a cubicle
  • make it difficult for Millennials to interact with senior leaders
  • make it difficult for Millennials to collaborate with colleagues
  • designate social responsibility activities a perk instead of a foundational value
  • try to “lure” them to stay with tenure-based plaques and timepieces

These data are a wake-up call for employers.  It’s a message from our talent pipeline that they really do want to engage with us; they believe our employer brand marketing messages; they want to learn and grow with us.

It’s time to listen harder and make sure our employer brand messages aren’t experienced as bait and switch tactics.

I don’t know about you, but I’d hate for the Millennials to have such negative employment experiences at the beginning of their careers that they opt out of organizational life altogether before they’re 30.  We’d really be in a pickle then!

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Filed under Achievers, Baby Boomers, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Business Success, China Gorman, Demographics, Employment Data, Engagement, Millennials, Rewards & Recognition, Student Job Search, Talent pipeline, U.S. Department of Labor

Jobs recovery? Not so much…

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I’ve referenced several times the good work that Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce is doing in predicting the educational Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce logopreparedness (or lack thereof) of the workforce in relation to the anticipated jobs growth in the United States. Anthony P. Carnevale and his colleagues have just published Recovery:  Job Growth and Education Requirements Through 2020. This is a follow up to their 2010 publication, Help Wanted:  Projection of Jobs and Education Requirements Through 2018.

The bad news is that the educational preparedness of the U.S. workforce is getting worse as we look to the future. Without systemic changes to the U.S. post-secondary education system, the economy will now fall 5 million workers short with post-secondary degrees by 2020 – an increase of 2 million from their projection of a 3 million shortfall in 2018.

While many sources are predicting that the U.S. economy will create 55 million new job openings over the next decade, these new job openings are a combination of an anticipated 24 million newly created jobs and 31 million openings created by Baby Boomer retirements. Foundational to the calculations are that jobs are returning much more slowly that we thought they would following the recession.

Recovery Figure 1

Still, an increase of 24 million new jobs between now and 2020 seems hugely optimistic. That’s an average of 307,000 new jobs per month between now and 2020. When has the U.S. sustained that kind of consistent job growth? Well, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics, in the last 30 years, only 1994 averaged new jobs creation at a rate of over 300,000 per month. 1994. A long time ago.

So there’s that.

But there’s more from this report that’s worth noting for those concerned about the future of the talent pipeline:

  • By 2020, 65% of all jobs in the economy will require post-secondary education and training beyond high school

    • 35% of the job openings will require at least a bachelor’s degree

    • 30% of the job openings will require some college or an associate’s degree

    • 36% of the job openings will not require education beyond high school

Reccovery Figure 4

The implications here are clear regardless of the numbers of new jobs created: employers and others predict that soon nearly two-thirds of all jobs will require some kind of post-secondary education or training. In 1973 – just 40 years ago – less than one-third of all jobs required the same. Forty years isn’t a very long time – just one generation. Lots of change in the nature of jobs, work, education, skills and employability in 40 years.

The report also defines the skills that will be most valued and in demand for the new jobs landscape. These are not as revolutionary as one might think. Cognitive skills of leadership, communication, analytics and administration will be most valued and in demand. Take a look and see what you think.

The Center on Education and the Workforce generates useful information for those involved with education and/or workforce planning – functions that should joined at the hip today and in the future.

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Filed under Baby Boomers, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Center on Education and the Workforce, China Gorman, College Graduation Rates, Education Deficit, Job Creation, Post-secondary education

The Hidden Job Market is Alive and Well — and That’s Not Good News!

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Last week I wrote about matching the number of job openings to the number of unemployed people by industry. The numbers were arresting. I used data from the Economic Policy Institute’s Heidi Shierholz.

In that post, Unemployed Workers Still Far Outnumber Job Openings in Every Major Sector, Shierholz provided this graph showing the Job-Seekers ratio from December 2000 through April 2013 based on data from the BLS JOLTS Survey and Current Population Survey:

Not enough jobs to go around June 2013

This is an incredible view of the last 13 years. The Jobs-to-Seekers ratio in December 2000 was 1 to 1.1:  pretty much full employment. The unemployment rate that month was 3.9%, which means that even people who didn’t want to work were working.

As I read the data, though, it looks a little odd:  the CPS (Current Population Survey) and the JOLTS Survey together show that in April while there were 3,737,000 reported job openings, 4,425,000 workers were hired and 4,279,000 workers were separated for a net employment increase of 146,000. Which means that  688,000 more workers were hired than there were job openings. Even if these April hires were from the March job openings (3,875,000), there were still 550,000 more hires than openings.

So the hidden job market must be alive and well if we’re hiring more than half-a-million more workers than there are reported openings. Think about that. And think about the reported skills shortages. And think about the difference between structural and cyclical unemployment (which I wrote about here).

The reason our unemployment rate continues to stay at an unacceptable and economy-stopping 7%+ may not be so related to the lack of new job creation – we appear to be filling more than the reported number of job openings every month! – but to the scarcity of specific skills and talent. So maybe the skills gap is real and the 9,000,000+ workers who are unemployed will stay that way until they acquire new skills or further lower their job targets.

Either way, that’s not good news for employers with openings they can’t fill, workers who can’t find jobs for the skills they have, or our economy which can’t get out of 2nd gear.

The hidden job market is very much alive. Too bad that’s not good news.

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Filed under Bureau of Labor Statistics, China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Hidden Job Market, HR Data, Job Creation, Structural Unemployment, Unemployment Rate

Forget the Skills Deficit: How About Filling Open Jobs?

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So the unemployment rate went up a little in May, from 7.5% to 7.6%. The Bureau of Labor Statistics deems this increase as “essentially unchanged.” Despite 175,000 more people working. How does this math work?

I’ve written about the how the unemployment rate in the U.S. is determined here and here. But here’s another slice of data to consider. It’s the number of job openings. The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) published each month alongside the unemployment numbers, shares really interesting data each month. Along with the data about quits and hires, are data about job openings. Fascinating. Really.

JOLTS June 2013

So, although there were 3,757,000 job openings in April (down 118,000 from March, or “little changed” as the BLS describes it) the difference between hires and total separations was just 146,000 month over month. So on the surface, a net of 175,000 new jobs is curious.

More curious is matching the number of job openings to the number of unemployed people by industry. Economist Heidi Shierholz published a piece for the Economic Policy Institute last week that shows in stark relief that unemployed workers still significantly outnumber job openings in every major sector.  Based on analysis of the JOLTS and other data, the following chart is a snapshot of current job openings numbers by industry and the numbers of unemployed workers in those industries. It’s rather eye popping and raises lots of questions.

Unemployed far outstrips available jobs June 2013

Ouch! So think about this data when you read about employers not being able to find the right skills for their openings. Is it really skills they can’t find? Or something else? How hard are they looking? What BFOQs are they using that overlook millions of job seekers?

Curious, yes?

There are so many data points around employment, job openings, quits, hires, workers, unemployed workers, discouraged job seekers, skills, education levels, education spending… The data points come from bonafide sources (like the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and  the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce), quasi bonafide sources with bias (like the Economic Policy Institute, SHRM, U.S. Chamber of Commerce and AARP), vendor sponsored research and white papers, and millions of blogs and other media sources.

Lots of sources. Lots of data points. Lots of analysis. Lots of conflicting findings and conclusions.

The best we can do is be pro-active in finding sources that are transparent about their data and analysts who seem unbiased. And then be persistent in looking at all sides of an issue and smart in believing what you read.

On the issues of skills, jobs and unemployment, though, it seems that we don’t know what we’re doing. We may not even really know what the truth is. Except this:  we’ve got to do better at matching job openings with available talent. It’s clear that we haven’t figured this out. Not government, not business/employers, not education providers, not workers, not vendors, not recruiters.

Forget the skills deficit. What about filling the open the jobs?

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Filed under Bureau of Labor Statistics, China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Economic Policy Institute, Employment Data, HR Data, Job Creation, SHRM, Skills Shortage, Structural Unemployment, U.S. Department of Labor, Unemployment

Gen Y’s Self-fulfilling Prophecy

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Accenture recently published its 2013 College Graduate Employment Survey Findings. Lots of great data. Especially if you plan to hire recent college grads. In fact, some of the data are surprising.

One of the important takeaways is that employers have unrealistic expectations for the skills of the hires they make out of college. They think these young people should be able to hit the ground running and are surprised and disappointed when they don’t. And to compound the problem, these employers are not investing in training initiatives to get the newly hired up to speed in the short term or effective in the long term. This is all pretty logical. It’s good data and if you plan on hiring entry level employees from the ranks of the newly graduated, you should read this.

But here’s what caught my attention. It’s about the willingness to commit. And it isn’t the first time I’ve seen data like these.

Young people, entering the economy for the first time, want to commit to their employers. It’s not what we expect, I know. We expect these youngsters to be gone in the career equivalent of sixty seconds. And sometimes they are. But it’s important to know that that isn’t what they want! This isn’t what they expect!

From Accenture:  The class of 2013 is expecting more career longevity from their first jobs:  68% of pending 2013 college grads expect to be at their first job more than 3 years compared to 49% of 2011/2012 college grads.

Accenture career longevity in first jobs 2013

And from the Achievers Class of 2012 white paper:

Achievers Class of 2012 White Paper

In this survey, more than 70% of 2012 college graduates expected to be with their first/next employer 3 years or longer — and 48% expected to be with their first/next employer 5 years or more. Surprising, right? Not what we expect, right? Not what we “know” about Gen Y, right?

But the BLS shows us what happens once they join our organizations:

BLS years of tenure by age

So, young people entering the economy for the first time with a newly minted degree are filled with optimism and have every intention of committing to their first employer for 5 years or more. Is it naivte or is it a real desire to commit, belong and make a difference?

And what happens once they start that first job that impels them out the door in 18 months or less?  Are employers so inept at selection that they really can’t hire employees that will persist? Are young people so naïve that they don’t really know what they’re signing up for and leave when reality doesn’t match expectations? Or, as the Accenture survey suggests, are young people disappointed when expected training and development doesn’t materialize and they leave in search of greater learning opportunities?

Clearly this is a complex issue with lots of dynamics, as the Accenture survey results show. However, if we started with the belief and understanding that young people really do want to engage and commit to their employer, would we be more likely to invest in developing their skills?

If we started with the belief and understanding that young people really do want to engage and commit to their employer, would we create onboarding processes that ensure expectations – on both sides – are being understood and met?

If we started with the belief and understanding that young people really do want to engage and commit to their employer, how would we approach them differently?

I suspect that most employers believe that there’s no return in investing in a talent pool that will be gone in 60 seconds.

I further suspect that the EVP that is sold in the recruiting process doesn’t exactly come to life once the recruit joins the organization.

But I suspect that the real issue is that Gen X and Baby Boomer managers, supervisors and recruiters believe all the negative stereotypes about Gen Y and their lack of commitment to any agendas other than their own — despite multiple data sources that show just the opposite. And we’ve ended up in this tough reality that has become a full-fledged self-fulfilling prophecy.

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Filed under Accenture, Achievers, Baby Boomers, Bureau of Labor Statistics, China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Employee Value Proposition, Gen Y, GenX, HR Data, Turnover, U.S. Department of Labor

7.8% Huh?

Most people saw the U.S. jobs report numbers on Friday and thought, “this doesn’t make sense.”   All the data we’ve been seeing shows that employment continues to be weak and job seekers continue to drop out of the job market.

Monster’s Employment Index for September showed a 2 point decline month-over-month:

That’s a decline in U.S. online job posting activity.  This would indicate a slowdown in hiring not a hiring urge of massive proportions.

The Glassdoor Q3 Employment Confidence Survey shows a pretty strong worsening of confidence on the part of job seekers that they’ll find a job in the next six months:

This wouldn’t indicate that job seekers see people around them getting jobs.  And 59% of employed people don’t think they could replace their job in six months.  Six months!

So what’s the deal with the massive reduction in the unemployment rate from 8.1% to 7.8%?  Well, as I wrote here, the official BLS unemployment rate combines data from two surveys conducted by the U.S. government:  The Establishment Survey which surveys employers and the Household Survey which surveys thousands of households on a range of topics including employment.  The two surveys tell two very different stories in September.

Here’s the Establishment Survey portion of the jobs report from the BLS (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics):

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 114,000 in September. In 2012, employment growth has averaged 146,000 per month, compared with an average monthly gain of 153,000 in 2011.

So we’re down from the monthly average in both 2011 and 2012.  And the monthly average in 2011 was higher than this year’s monthly average.  Nonfarm payroll employment increased by 114,000 in September.  That isn’t enough to cover the new entrants into the labor force – much less hundreds of thousands of unemployed job seekers.

The Household Survey tells a different story:

Total employment rose by 873,000 in September, following 3 months of little change. The employment-population ratio increased by 0.4 percentage point to 58.7 percent, after edging down in the prior 2 months. The overall trend in the employment-population ratio for this year has been flat. The civilian labor force rose by 418,000 to 155.1 million in September, while the labor force participation rate was little changed at 63.6 percent.

So.  Total employment – as reported by individuals not employers – rose by 873,000 in September following “three months of little change.”  Despite declining confidence in almost every other survey we see, 873,000 people reported working in September who weren’t working in August.  It boggles the mind.

Here’s where those jobs came from:

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) rose from 8.0 million in August to 8.6 million in September. These individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.

Part-timers.  600,000 new part-timers.  Part-timers who could be working as little as a couple of hours a week from home. Truly, it boggles the mind.

This is all very confusing.  We’re covered over in statistics, trends and data that tell us that the employment picture is stagnant at best.  Confidence in the job market continues to decline. And the unemployment rate went down .3% in one month.

I’m with Jack Welch:  I can’t connect these dots.

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Filed under Bureau of Labor Statistics, Connecting Dots, Employment Data, Glassdoor, HR Data, Jack Welch, Monster, U.S. Department of Labor, Unemployment, Unemployment Rate