Businesses Desperate to Hire as Demand Rises

May 14, 2021
Author: Jay Denton

Employers have many open positions, and layoffs have hit their lowest point since 2000. Record numbers were reflected in the most recent data available on U.S. job openings, layoffs and turnover, released May 11.

The latest BLS data on hiring trends for March 2021 provides insight into the overall U.S. employment situation.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that job openings spiked in March. Seasonally-adjusted job openings jumped from 7.5 million in February to 8.1 million in March, the highest total reported since it began being tracked in December 2000. Layoffs hit new lows, as businesses struggle to fill open positions, though millions of people remain unemployed.

What Will Be the Impact on Future Hiring?

Across industries, businesses face obstacles recruiting enough job candidates to meet their hiring needs. However, these obstacles vary.

Talent Shortage Impact on Industries

Even with recent significant job gains, Leisure and Hospitality and Retail Trade still have many positions to fill. In fact, 1 in 4 job openings in March were in one of these two industries. This demand is likely to continue, as more people become vaccinated, they are more willing to eat at restaurants and go shopping. Recent CDC guidelines that reverse mask and social distancing recommendations for those fully vaccinated will potentially fuel more demand for these industries.

Manufacturing businesses saw a sharp rise in open positions, which has made it difficult to produce the large volume of goods resulting from high demand. Even with minimal layoffs, soaring job openings and 8.2 million people unemployed, businesses are grappling with filling open positions to meet production needs.

Job openings in Professional and Business Services have hovered north of 1.3 million since December 2020. As many open roles in this industry require specific skills, talent acquisition professionals have a limited talent supply to recruit from, putting additional pressure on businesses to focus on their retention strategy, as well as hiring.

On the flip side, industries with many low-wage jobs, such as in restaurants, retail stores and some manufacturing facilities, have different challenges. The barriers to hiring are health concerns about COVID-19, competitors paying higher wages, and supplemental unemployment benefits that provide workers with comparable compensation to an employer.

Labor Force Outlook

ThinkWhy’s talent intelligence software, LaborIQ®, projects the U.S. will reach 73 million hires in 2021. This will be from a combination of filling current job openings, refilling roles as people leave their current jobs and adding new jobs. This volume may not be reached until some employment conditions change – the permanent reopening of schools and the discontinuation of supplemental unemployment benefits. We will likely see more people begin to rejoin the labor force in larger numbers in late summer and fall. Until then, more people will need to return to work for hiring momentum to ignite the job gain many expected in April.


LaborIQ by ThinkWhy reports, forecasts and advises on employment conditions and the impact to jobs, industries and businesses across all U.S. cities.