Category Archives: U.S. Department of Labor

Data Point #2: Quits vs. Layoffs/Discharges

The unemployment rate is 8.3%.  Better than a year ago, but still 8.3%.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that there are 12.8 million unemployed workers in the United States.  Most believe that the real number is closer to 18 million – the difference being those who have been unemployed so long that they’ve given up hope in finding a job.

There’s no doubt that the economy is showing signs of improvement.  However, last Tuesday the Dow lost more than 200 points – the single biggest one-day loss in 2012.  Gasoline averages $3.80 a gallon and is predicted to top $4.00/gallon by summer.  Fears of the European economy tanking and taking the U.S. economy with it are still strong.  And the anticipation of a myriad of tax increases hitting businesses and individuals on January 1, 2012 creates enormous uncertainty.

Job satisfaction in the U.S. continues to decline and the percentage of workers who report being engaged is less than 33% by some measures.

So this next data point is somewhat astonishing, and cause for concern by HR professionals everywhere.  According to data released today by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, the numbers of workers who are leaving their jobs voluntarily continues to grow and outpace the number of workers who are leaving their jobs involuntarily.

The graph shows that during good economic times the number of workers who leave their jobs voluntarily is larger – significantly larger – than those who are involuntarily terminated.  It stands to reason.  If they don’t like their boss, if they don’t trust their CEO, if their work isn’t meaningful, if another company offers more money – they resign.

It also stands to reason – and the chart shows this clearly – that in bad economic times the number of workers who quit voluntarily drops precipitously. Leaving your job in a really bad economy– without a new one to go to — defies logic.  And unless the situation is unbearable, most people are logical when it comes to their employment and cash flow.

Most would agree that the economy is still bad.  There are still millions of workers looking for jobs.  The economic and political environments are shaky.  Yet the number of people thinking “I can’t take it another day – there’s got to be something better than this:  I quit” is  growing.  In this economy.  With these uncertainties.

     What does this say about the level of dissatisfaction and disengagement within our workforces?

     What does this say about the cultures of our organizations?

     What does this say about our ability to retain the talent that we need?

Well, if you’re an optimist like I am, this is what you think:

     What a great opportunity we have to create a differentiated employee experience!

     What a great time to start strengthening our culture!

     What a great time to start recruiting!

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Filed under Bureau of Labor Statistics, Data Point Tuesday, Employment Data, Engagement, Talent pipeline, U.S. Department of Labor, Uncategorized

Data Point #1: Unemployment Rate vs. Layoff Data

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics published a mixed bag of news week before last.  While the unemployment rate fell from 8.5% in December to 8.3% in January, the number of mass layoff events in January grew by 50 over the previous month.  (A mass layoff event  involves at least 50 workers from a single employer.)  The total number of employees involved in these events, however, was reduced month-over-month by 15,728.  So while more employers were downsizing in January, fewer employees were impacted.  Good news, right?  Maybe…

Looking at the trend lines in the chart below, HR professionals may scratch their heads and wonder what is different in January 2012 from April 2008?  The number of initial claims are similar:  128,643 in April 2008 vs 129,920 in January 20102.  But the unemployment rate is significanttly dissimilar:  5% unemployment in April 2008 vs. 8.3% unemployment in January 2012.  What’s going on?

Clearly, the lagging effects of the economic downturn which began to gather steam in the 3rd and 4th quarters of 2008 are still being felt.  The resulting embedded base of unemployed workers continues to weigh heavily on the U.S. economy and the unemployment rate despite the falling numbers of layoff events and impacted workers.

So how is this data useful for HR professionals?  Simple.  Putting the long-time unemployed back to work has to be job #1 in our organizations and our communities.  As your organization plans to grow its employee base — whether with contract, temporary or full-time employees — what are your plans to target the long-term unemployed for inclusion in the talent pipeline?

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Filed under Bureau of Labor Statistics, China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Employment Data, HR, Talent pipeline, U.S. Department of Labor, Uncategorized