What a difference a year makes! Approximately a year ago, the business world was slowly shutting down on the throes of one of the worst global pandemics in history. Unemployment had soared to 14.6% after being the lowest in decades only months earlier. There were large-scale layoffs in many industries and with the exception of “essential” workers, hiring was almost non-existent. Since then, much has changed thanks to the development of a vaccine and society slowly opening up once again. Unemployment fell to 6.3% in early 2021, largely due to a much-improved job market.
It is impossible to get a consensus as to the prognosis for the economy in the years ahead and the future of the job market. Predictions are that some areas will thrive in the decade. Examples are health care, and on-line fulfillment which carries over to many other categories like transportation and shipping.
Some experts believe that the job market will henceforth greatly improve. They see the economy firing up once the pandemic ends. They argue that the seeds were in place before Covid for growth and that it is just “an event waiting to happen.” On the flip side are those that feel that the economy endured a shock to the system that it will not quickly recover from. A new report by Rutgers University says that “more Americans think that jobs, careers and employment opportunities after the pandemic will be harder to obtain for the next generation than they were following the 2008 Great Recession.”
Overall, the report confirms what many experts are predicting. 46% of Americans surveyed at the end of 2020 were optimistic that economic conditions will improve in 2021, while 30% thought that conditions will deteriorate. Some simply said that 2020 was so bad that they cannot envision a repeat or that any future year could be worse.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s $192.9 billion budget paints a sober picture of New York’s current and post-pandemic economy, as it forecasts a bleak job market for much of this decade. “New York State employment is not expected to reach its pre-pandemic peak until 2025,” the analysis from the governor’s budget division said. New York City recovered just 39.4 percent of jobs lost during the COVID-19 outbreak last spring compared to more than 60 percent for surrounding Long Island and Westchester-Rockland-Orange counties, the analysis said.
If one is looking for a job nowadays and reads the tea leaves, they will note the steady transformation of traditional office-based companies as they transition to online systems and become heavily reliant on remote working. Using various digital methods to stay in contact with employees such as Skype or Zoom has become a replacement for face-to-face meetings. Equally, webinar hosting platforms such as ON24 is a replacement for client events and conferences. But will that dampen hiring? Good question that we can only hope for the best, wait and see.
Looking at the broader picture of the regional economy, it might be easy for a job seeker to become disenchanted, as some of the New York City and State data shows. There is a great deal of turbulence in the regional economy and until the dust settles, it will be impossible to project the true strength of the job market going forward. But open up any one of the weekly Jewish periodicals like Hamodia, and you are likely to see page after page with jobs and career opportunities in many different sectors, including many not-for-profits.
There seems to be quite a demand for managers, in offices and in retail establishments. Managers are needed to oversee employees, manage the flow of projects and work, and make sure that a business is operating efficiently and profitably. An effective manager has the ability to evaluate and decide which are crucial to the success of an establishment. The best managers know how to get the most out of their team by using their people management skills, listening skills, and problem-solving skills to encourage their associates and sustain employee engagement. A manager must be able to look for areas in which the rules or procedures of the company can be improved. If you believe you have some of these skills, there likely is a good job waiting for you.
Managerial jobs are available wherever you look. Many of them are entry level which means that there is some degree of on-job-training. The combined experience of being a manager can serve one well in a host of career options for the future. There are so many different tasks a manager does that he or she often appears to do the jobs of multiple people.
Another job that is greatly in demand is sales. Good sales people can write their own ticket in terms of work schedules and compensation. At the moment with travel being restricted sales means working a local area.
Although experience in a related field does count for a lot, life experience is also very much factored in. So does a good working knowledge of digital technology. An increasing number of retail establishments are going on-line and need good people to manage their Internet sales. On-line sales for a retailer can be tantamount to opening another store which would need a good manager.
Some 700,000 jobs were lost in the first few weeks after the pandemic hit. It is safe to say that at least half will be permanent losses. Some will have learnt that the downsized model works for them while others will find the working remotely model satisfactory. But there will be a significant number that will be looking to rebuild their in-person teams and will be rehiring again. I noticed that some jobs were lost by people who used the opportunity to opt for early retirement. Again, these will be a source for someone breaking in and replacing the retiree.
Based on all these factors, job seekers should not become discouraged at the prospects for finding a job. Nor should they be concerned at the lack of experience. There are many opportunities for training, particularly in our growing “heimish” commerce world which are desperately looking for good loyal and reliable help.
If I had to project ahead, I believe that our local commerce establishments will thrive in the next five to ten years and those that will be on board will be treated to quite a journey. Happy job hunting!