New Year, New Job Market?

New Year, New Job Market?

After the highs of the Great Resignation, the 2023 job market didn’t seem to achieve the same liftoff for many people. Will 2024 be better? Worse? We talked to Sara Causey, a Staffing & Recruiting SME, the owner of Causey Consulting LLC, and the author of the job market journal to ask for her predictions as we approach the new year.

How would you describe the 2023 job market?

The way I would describe it is quite different from what we often hear in the mainstream media. We heard a lot of narratives that the labour market was robust and even though there were obvious signs that things were slowing down, we were still supposed to believe the unemployment rate was below 4% and all was well somehow. We also heard a lot about how the various contradictory economic statistics were baffling, but for me, it was only baffling if you were willing to believe utter nonsense. I think we had an artificially manipulated, overheated job market in 2021 when the Great Resignation was going strong. In 2022, the wind came out of the sails. In 2023, we really started to see more layoffs and hiring freezes as well as individual job seekers saying, “You know what, I think I’ll plant roots and stay put for a while.”

What goes up must come down.

Exactly that. In a boom cycle, it’s tempting to imagine the good times will last forever but they don’t. Perhaps for the bankers and corporations deemed “too big to fail” but for the rest of us: a boom cycle will always end with a bust cycle.

Do you think the downturn will last into 2024?

Unfortunately, I do. In fact, I expect things will get worse before they get better. I doubt that any mainstream sources will report the true unemployment rate, but I predict more layoffs, hiring freezes, and company closures. I also believe that many people who have full-time employment will want to keep it and will avoid making any job changes without a clear, compelling reason. Sadly, I believe you’ll also hear people on social media along the lines of: “I didn’t see this coming. I’ve been unemployed for months and it feels hopeless.” We’ve already encountered these horror stories in 2023 and I believe we’ll see even more in 2024. However believe me, I hope I am wrong.

No silver linings to report?

Probably not for 2024, no. In the US, 2024 is an election year, which only adds to the drama. The economy and job market can – and I’m sure will – be used as fodder for the campaigns. I’m reminded of the debate between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan in 1980 when Reagan asked the American public, “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” We also have to factor in what the Fed will do. Do they return to low-interest rates and cheap money, or do they keep raising interest rates and tightening the belt? Only time will tell. They don’t consult me on such decisions, that’s for sure.

What happens either way with the job market?

If the dollar is further devalued, you will see job seekers and employees asking for higher wages to try to cope with the reality that their salary simply isn’t going as far anymore. It’s important to note that asking for a higher salary doesn’t always equal getting it. In fact, that might lead to increased job losses. If small businesses are less able to obtain credit and/or loans, you’ll see more downsizing and companies going out of business completely. So that, in turn, leads to increased job losses. If we hit a deflationary cycle and corporate profits go down, you can expect to see job losses. I understand this sounds super pessimistic, super doom-and-gloom. I get it. From my perspective, I think the economic engine is out of gasoline and we’re past the point where any correction is going to happen without job losses. Again, I hope I am wrong on this. I want to be wrong!

If someone loses their job in such a difficult economy, what should they do?

One of the best things you can do is prepare ahead of time. Are you spending money on foolish items you don’t need? Are you living above or beneath your means? I recommend that everyone have a list of their first five phone calls post-job loss. For example, after you have called your spouse or best friend to vent about what’s happened, who will you call first that can help you to land a new job ASAP? Once you have a list of five, it’s even better if you can make a list of ten. This list should not be random and haphazard. Select people in your network who have some true possible chance of helping you get back to work. No one likes to think about an economic downturn or a job loss, but you’ll thank yourself later for the preparation.

For more job market insights, you can visit Sara at https://causeyconsultingllc.com/.