Total Hires Dipped to 5.5 Million in December

February 10, 2021

The latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the number of new hires dropped in December 2020, as a surge in coronavirus cases slowed business activity. Total hires went from 5.9 million in November down to 5.5 million in December on a seasonally adjusted basis in the U.S.

The latest BLS data on hiring and job openings provide insight into the overall U.S. employment situation.

With hiring data for all of 2020 now available, we can compare it to past years and figure out what this means moving forward. For talent acquisition professionals, these numbers represent movement within the job market, allowing them to adjust their hiring strategy as the economy recovers from 2020.

In the nine years prior, total hires averaged 61 million annually. In 2020, though the U.S. totaled 70 million hires, these hires were mainly workers returning to the jobs they had previously lost at the beginning of the pandemic. This number also includes displaced workers moving into other industries and opportunities because their previous roles remained unavailable. LaborIQ® by ThinkWhy projects the U.S. to reach 73 million hires in 2021, exceeding 2020 hiring activity. While the 2021 number includes millions of the currently unemployed finding work as the economy recovers, LaborIQ doesn’t expect enough workers will be employed to return the labor market to its full pre-pandemic potential.

This slow progression to full employment, along with January employment numbers, reinforces the expectation of a slow climb out of the recession. LaborIQ expects a return to full employment levels to still be a couple years out – around 2023.

The Quits rate, an indicator of whether people are open to leaving their current jobs for a new one, ticked up in December, but it remains under its pre-pandemic level. What does this mean for hiring and businesses? Talent acquisition professionals may find they have a growing talent pool this year. Highly skilled, currently employed workers may be willing to consider a new employment offer if it comes with desirable professional growth, benefits or compensation. This would be in addition to the many unemployed and displaced workers willing to upskill or transfer to a new industry.

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