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Unemployment is Astoundingly Low. What Does That Mean for You?

Only good news seems to be coming out of the U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics these days. The U.S. unemployment rate is the lowest it has been in the last 10 years, reaching 4.0% earlier this month. As economic indicators go, that’s an excellent one—particularly if you’re looking for work! The national unemployment rate hasn’t been this low in close to half a century. Pretty incredible! When you dig into the numbers, however, you can find some even more encouraging employment statistics:

  • The unemployment rate for African-Americans, Asian-Americans, disabled Americans, and Hispanic Americans are all now at historic lows.
  • The women’s unemployment rate is currently the lowest it’s been in 65 years.
  • The unemployment rate of military veterans has decreased to a level not seen in 18 years—that’s pre-9/11!

There’s no question the numbers look good. But what do they mean for you? Well, a low unemployment rate can often prove challenging for employers competing for top talent. Restaurants can’t find delivery drivers because they can make more money driving for Uber and Lyft; livestock processing facilities can’t reach full capacity because of the strong competition for skilled labor; retailers can’t find staff to fill seasonal or part-time jobs because full-time positions are readily available. Additionally, high turn-over is becoming an issue as baby boomers are retiring and current employees are quick to move on or give less notice when another opportunity presents itself.

Is the intensity of competition for workers increasing in your industry? If it is, the time to do something about it is now. Here’s what you’ll need to do:

  1. Make sure your salaries are competitive. If workers think they can make more money elsewhere, it’s going to be hard to keep them. Use Glassdoor and Payscale to research the market near you.
  2. Get creative with benefits. Providing health insurance, competitive compensation and a retirement-savings plan is essential in recruiting employees but it’s other soft incentives such as flextime or time off to volunteer that show potential employees the company is committed to accommodating their work/life balance.
  3. Improve your team culture. Try assigning a mentor to each new employee. It’s a policy that can provide a double benefit because not only do they learn from each other but as employees retire or move on, they are not simply taking their knowledge with them, they are passing it on. It’s a win-win for the company and the employee.
  4. Recruit from within. Mobility opportunities that allow employees to move across different departments or even change their career path appeal to all generations. This helps employees stay engaged and grow their skills and, with talent management planning, helps the organization build competencies and future leaders organically.
  5. Invest in technology. New technology in the form of applicant tracking software (ATS) helps to streamline the recruiting process and provide richer insights into the candidates. Additionally, millennials are far more apt to use technology for job searches, so an organization that relies on paper-based applications and on-boarding would be seen as outdated and may be scratched from their list.

While low unemployment can make hiring a challenge, it’s no excuse not to do your due diligence on every qualified applicant. Résumé and academic fraud don’t go away just because unemployment is low, and neither do criminal histories. Make sure you’re working with an experienced, reliable, tech-savvy pre-employment screening company to ensure you don’t get taken advantage of by applicants in a tight employment market. KRESS offers free background checks to new clients! Give us a call today at 888.636.3693 to learn more.

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