We recently spoke with Robin Fischman, Director of Talent Acquisition at OLIVER Agency, on what she has observed in the job market from her perch at a global marketing firm with clients around the world.
With signs that our initial encounter with Covid-19 hasn’t ended and concerns that a second wave is taking shape in China, her more bearish view that freelance positions will first open up in hotspots like digital and e-commerce toward the end of the year track with the Federal Reserve's expectations that we’re set for a gradual recovery.
Here is what the job market currently looks like for the remainder of the year. We’ll update as information trickles in.
DON'T MIND THE STOCK MARKET.
Stock market performance is often not indicative of workers’ economic circumstances. As much as we'd love to believe in the narrative of a V-shaped recovery, we encourage you to be patient and cautious in your recovery expectations. Since mid-March, states have seen about 42.5 million unemployment claims.
A better than expected jobs report for May gives weight to the V-shaped recovery narrative, but Heidi Shierholz, the former Chief Economist at the US Department of Labor, noticed how an accounting technicality caused those numbers to appear rosier on the surface than the data show. What's happening in the stock market is decoupled from the reality of what’s happening to workers and, particularly, small and medium-sized businesses.
CAN WORKERS AND SMES BE SAVED?
Yes! The expanded unemployment benefits, stimulus payments, and Paycheck Protection Program were a great start. The only people with the power to protect the economy and accelerate the recovery are our federal legislators. While we do our best to not politicize issues, some in Congress feel that the unemployment benefits and stimulus payments disincentivize people from returning to work.
This idea is problematic. Given signs that premature reopenings lead to a resurgence in Covid-19 cases, and barring a near-term breakthrough discovery of a vaccine, the only way to ensure people can stay safe and continue to pay their rents and bills and debts is to give them money. By consuming, we stimulate the economy and, ultimately, improve recovery prospects. If the current level of private sector - including households - spending drops, more businesses will either close or make further cuts to their workforces to reduce costs. Without those jobs to return to, the pain of this recession will be deeper and last longer.
Going into the crisis, private sector debt levels were high. Coming out of the crisis, they will be higher. What we spend as consumers is vital to the health and long-term viability of these companies. Fortunately, others in Congress want to expand and guarantee monthly payments to the entire country for the duration of the crisis and recession. We’ll know more about the shape of the recovery when Congress debates the next spending package, set for a vote in mid-July.
DOES IT MAKE SENSE TO APPLY FOR OPEN JOBS RIGHT NOW?
The short answer is yes. The size of applicant pools has increased, but there are critical steps you can take that many candidates overlook or dismiss to help yourself stand out. Here's how to put together a strong résumé, portfolio, and, if requested, a cover letter.
Robin pressed the point of gradual decision-making among businesses. Don't be discouraged if you don't hear back about a job for a while! If you're able to, some of the best things you can do for yourself as a candidate are to keep applying for openings, take on side projects, or get involved in an online class or webinar series.
GETTING THROUGH THE CRISIS.
While we await the policy resolution, there are resources that you can and should take advantage of if you need assistance.
If you're in New York:
• Cash assistance for rent and food
• Medical care
• Mental health resources
• The Freelancers Relief Fund is providing up to $1,000 to freelancers impacted by the virus
• Freelance Mutual Aid Circle has CARES Act updates and financial relief funds
If you're not in New York and need help locating resources available to you, send us an email at email@example.com, and we will assist you! Additionally, we are providing those who've been laid off or furloughed due to the crisis with free résumé and portfolio reviews. Email us with your materials, and a member of our team will reach out to you.
OPTIMISM FOR THE FUTURE.
When the crisis ends, we believe our world will look different. Robin expressed her pleasant surprise at how easily the team at OLIVER adapted to remote work and predicted that "people are...going to be able to get involved in business and get jobs that aren’t in their locations. It’s going to provide talent and people hiring an opportunity to hire people outside of their market.”
Although things are difficult now, they will pass. Stay tuned for more updates on our market outlook.
Wishing you strength, solidarity, and good health,