Teen Jobs Update: Strong Spring May Have Stunted Summer Job Growth

More teenagers found jobs in July compared to a year ago, but it was not enough to lift the overall summer hiring total above last year’s levels, according to an analysis of government employment data by global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. 

Get the full report here.


Shutdown Will Ripple Through Economy, Could Impact Holiday Spending

The government shutdown that went into effect today, due to the inability of Congress to negotiate an agreement on a new budget, could have dire consequences for the economy at large, according to John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

“Even if the shutdown lasts just a few days, we are talking about nearly 2.0 million government workers who are bracing themselves for the loss of income resulting from the shutdown.  Many may have already started to rein in their spending weeks ago in anticipation of a shutdown.  Now, they are likely to go into full cost-cutting mode, spending only what they need to put food on the table and pay the most important bills.  Dinners out, new furniture or appliances, vacations, and other discretionary expenditures are now off the table,” said Challenger.

“The economy is already weakened by continued high unemployment, as well as underemployment, which both impact consumers’ spending power.  Now, the government is basically shooting the economy in the foot, hobbling millions of other consumers.  And the timing couldn’t be worse, as we are just weeks away from the all-important holiday season, when retailers and other businesses benefit from increased spending.  Depending on how long the shutdown lasts, government workers may have to slash holiday spending,” said Challenger.

According to reports, analysts estimate that a two-week shutdown will slow economic growth by 0.3 to 0.4 percentage points, which was at an already-meager growth rate of 2.5 percent in the second quarter.  The 21-day shutdown in the mid-1990s caused a four percent dip in the stock market, but it rebounded quickly along with job creation and economic growth, after the shutdown ended.

“Unfortunately, this is not the mid-1990s, when the economy was in a much stronger position heading into the shutdown.  Unemployment was at 5.6 percent and job creation was averaging 190,000 new jobs per month over the five months leading up to the furloughs.  Following the shutdown, job creation bounced to an average of 257,000 per month for the remainder of 1996.  That is unlikely to happen this time, as the government continues to seek spending cuts even if a budget is agreed upon,” said Challenger.

New Survey Finds Obstacles To Post-Recession Job Creation

A new survey of human resources executives provides further evidence of just how difficult it is in a non-manufacturing-based economy to quickly increase employment following a downturn and why it could be another year or more for the unemployment rate to fall to pre-recession levels.

In the survey conducted by global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., just over half (53 percent) of the human resources executives polled said their companies implemented workforce reductions as a result of the recession that began in December 2007 and ended in June 2009.  The good news is that 82 percent of companies have added new workers since January 2010.  However, while 33 percent of those hiring were able to bring back some of their former workers, 67 percent indicated that the re-staffing process started from scratch.

Meanwhile, less than half (43 percent) of the companies adding new workers have reached or surpassed the number of workers employed prior to workforce reductions.  Nearly 15 percent said they expect to eventually return to pre-layoff workforce levels. However, 43 percent indicated that their companies will meet future demand with fewer employees, suggesting that their payrolls will never return to pre-recession peaks.

“What we have come to know as ‘the jobless recovery’ may be the new post-recession norm, as employers rebuild their workforces from scratch, take more time to vet candidates, and find ways to operate with fewer workers,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

Get the survey results here.

Slight Increase In Travel Could Mean Uptick In Jobs

While prices at the gas pump are still higher than most drivers would like, more American workers are expected to use their vacation days this summer, thanks to the steadily improving economy, increased job security and reasonable airfares.  Increased summer travel, beginning with the Memorial Day holiday, is likely to boost hiring across several travel-related sectors, including leisure and hospitality, food service, retail, and entertainment, according to the employment experts at global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

“For young job seekers on break from high school or college, travel and leisure-related industries offer a wealth of employment opportunities.  While many employers have already hired the bulk of their seasonal workers by this point, it is still not too late to find openings, particularly for those who live near or are willing to temporarily relocate to popular travel destinations,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas. Continue reading

Analysis: Labor Shortages Threaten Economy

Rising quit rates and fewer job seekers vying for open positions could signal a return to the types of labor shortages that plagued employers during the dot.com boom.  While widespread talent shortages are probably five to ten years away, some regions and industries already may be feeling the pinch, according to the workplace authorities at global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

“With 11.6 million Americans still unemployed as of April, it may be difficult for most to contemplate labor shortages.  However, it is important that not all of the unemployed reside where jobs are being created at the fastest rate and many lack the skills required to fill the openings that exist.  These two factors alone make skill shortages a reality right now for some employers,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

“As the economy continues to improve and more people find employment, labor shortages will only worsen; accelerated by an aging workforce that may not necessarily enter traditional retirement, but will alter their career path to the extent that it will prove disruptive to the companies that have employed them,” he added.

Challenger pointed to the latest jobs data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) as evidence that it will become increasingly difficult for employers to attract and keep the best talent.  The April employment situation report showed that payrolls experienced a net increase of 165,000.  However, that figure from the BLS merely shows the difference between the total number of jobs added and the total number lost as a result of layoffs, terminations, retirements, people quitting, etc.  For the number of Americans actually hired in a given month, Challenger turns to the BLS job openings and labor turnover survey.

In March, the latest month for which data is available, the nation’s employers hired 4,259,000 new workers.  That was down from the previous month, when 4,451,000 Americans were hired.  However, the hiring levels tracked by the survey typically fluctuate significantly from month to month.  Overall, hiring levels have steadily risen since falling to a recession low in June 2009, when only 3,626,000 workers were hired during the month.

Get the full analysis here.


Hey College Grads, Things Are Looking Up

With college seniors around the nation returning to their respective campuses following spring break recess, many will undoubtedly turn their attention to their impending graduation and the search for their first post-collegiate job.  A new analysis of the entry-level job market estimates that while the job market continues to strengthen for college graduates, the environment remains highly competitive, which may force some to pursue unexpected career paths.

In its annual college graduate job-market outlook, global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. says this year’s crop of 1.8 million bachelor’s degree recipients will be able to take advantage of the 36 consecutive months of private-sector employment growth that has occurred since the jobs recovery began in earnest in March 2010.

“Job creation has been slow, but it has been steady.  Over the past 14 months, private payrolls have grown by an average of 190,000 new workers per month.  There are a growing number of opportunities for job seekers, but the search definitely requires an aggressive approach.  This is especially true for new graduates, who are likely to have less real-world experience to point to in job interviews,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

“This lack of experience would have less impact if they were only competing for jobs with their fellow graduates.  However, in this economy, it is likely that they will be vying for entry-level job opportunities with those who have been in the workforce for one to five years.  They may even be competing with seniors looking for any opportunity to continue working even it means taking a dramatic cut in pay, title and responsibility,” he added.

Despite increased competition for entry-level positions, the latest data on starting salaries suggest that demand for new graduates is on the rise.  According to a January survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (www.naceweb.org), the average starting salary for new college graduates earning bachelor’s degrees increased 3.4 percent over last year.  The biggest gains were achieved by those in education, whose starting salaries rose by 5.4 percent from $38,581 for the class of 2011 to $40,668 for last year’s graduating class.

While those in education saw the biggest increase, last year’s graduates with a bachelor’s degree in engineering enjoyed the highest starting salary at $62,655, up 3.8 percent from $60,344 for 2011 graduates.

Engineering and technology graduates are likely to experience some of the shortest post-graduation job search times.  In fact, the most talented students in these fields may have multiple job offers to weigh before they even collect their diplomas, according to Challenger.

Read the full report here.

US Airways/American Merger Could Bring Job Cuts

Tempe, AZ-based US Airways Group may announce a merger with bankrupt carrier American Airlines this week.  The combined airlines would surpass United Continental as the world’s largest airline. US Airways’ CEO Doug Parker, who has been in talks with AMR since last January, is expected to lead the combined companies, while American’s CEO Tom Horton would become non-executive chairman, according to sources who spoke with Bloomberg News. The attempted merger comes after an unsuccessful bid to combine with Delta Air Lines in 2007. If successful, this merger will further consolidate an industry hit hard by the global economy and government regulations and could pave the way for the possibility of higher fares and more routes. The industry has seen five large mergers since 2001, including the May 2010 merger of United and Continental, costing 1,500 jobs in 2011. This, like other mergers, could also cost jobs: American Airlines announced 13,000 job cuts last February after seeking court protection. Airlines and airport/airline services companies announced 29,273 job cuts in 2012, according to tracking by global outplacement Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. So far this year, job cuts at airlines total 1,281. How might this merger impact airline and air travel employment? How may the consumer be affected? What other industries could see major mergers?