April 2020 Jobs Data: New Jobs Are Up, Applications Are Down

After weeks of new jobs disappearing from the job boards, job postings are starting to trend back upwards. However, applicant volume is not following suit. 

Industries we partner closely with at CareerPlug — including Fitness, Hospitality, and Restaurants — were heavily impacted by the pandemic. Most have had to temporarily close their doors and many had to make tough decisions to furlough or layoff staff. As unemployment climbs and some companies shut their doors forever, the impact of COVID-19 on hiring is undeniable. 

We’ve kept an eye on hiring traffic, and we’re beginning to see a story emerge that tells us not only how employers and job seekers reacted when the crisis began, but how they’re approaching hiring in the near future. 

What the data says about new jobs

We took a look at new jobs posted from our clients, as well as the number of applicants they received each week and compared those data points with the job and applicant volume for the six weeks prior to the drop-off initiated by COVID-19. 

The decline in both new jobs posted and applicant volume began six weeks ago when the social distancing and stay-at-home orders began in most places across the country. Employers acted quickly to freeze their hiring while applicant volume went down more slowly as the situation developed. In the following weeks, jobs and applicants continued to trend downward as more businesses shut their doors and people have stayed home.  

For the first time since mid-March, we’re seeing an increase in new jobs posted over the last two weeks. After a low point nearing 30% of the average jobs posted, new jobs rose to 65% of the average during the week of April 20th. Some employers are reengaging and preparing to open their businesses again and hire or rehire employees. 

New job postings by week vs. pre-COVID-19 average

New Job Postings March 2020 to April 2020

This varies by industry. Fitness centers, for example, appear optimistic and have quickly posted job opportunities in anticipation of reopening their doors, climbing from a low of 13% of their average new job postings up to 71% in the last two weeks.

Fitness industry: new job postings by week vs. pre-COVID-19 average

Fitness New Job Postings March 2020 to April 2020

On the other hand, restaurants and hospitality businesses may not be ready to ramp up their hiring as rapidly yet. Restaurants have moved just eight percentage points (from 17% to 25%) and Hospitality only one percentage point (from 10% to 11%) in the last two weeks. 

Restaurant industry: new job postings by week vs. pre-COVID-19 average

Restaurants New Job Postings March 2020 to April 2020

What the data says about job seekers

Interestingly, job seekers haven’t followed employers’ lead. Applicant volume took longer to decrease at the start of the crisis and now is lagging on the upswing. Despite employers’ growing excitement to hire up, job seekers aren’t yet ready to return to the market. 

Applicant volume by week vs. pre-COVID-19 average

Applicant Volume by Week March 2020 to April 2020

Typically, employers might predict a higher applicant volume in correlation with a high unemployment rate (the current unemployment rate has reached over 20%), but employers should be prepared for a more difficult market than expected as job seekers continue to exercise caution before returning to the workforce despite the availability of jobs. 

What employers can do now

The situation is developing quickly as federal, state, and local governments navigate the uncertainty of reopening businesses amidst a public health crisis to provide guidance to employers and job seekers alike. For now, here are a few things employers can do to prepare and aid in their hiring efforts: 

  • Share what you’re doing to protect employee and new hire health and safety in your job postings and in your promotion (careers page, social media, etc). This can help address some logistical concerns job seekers may have in the near term.
  • Prepare for remote hiring practices to allow you to make hires ahead of the time you need them on-site. 
  • Optimize your job postings sooner rather than later. Do your research to see which job titles resonate best with job seekers in your industry. Write high-quality job descriptions so that when your ideal candidate reads it, they’ll be compelled to apply.
  • Having fewer applicants on the job boards means you need to do more to stand out to great candidates. Check out a few ways to improve the candidate experience
  • If you plan to rehire laid off or furloughed staff, stay in touch and communicate openly with them as your timeline develops. 

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