five failure points of a measurement strategy 5

Let’s take a look at the job market

This data was originally featured in the September 27, 2023 newsletter found here:

In this week’s Data Diaries, let’s take a look at the job market. A number of friends and colleagues have been looking for work in recent weeks at all levels; one friend who’s a senior marketing leader has been searching for 8 months now for a new role. The question we have to ask is, why? Is the market really that bad? The answer, as always, is that it depends.

It’s been about 6 weeks since we last checked in on this data, so let’s take a look at job postings in six verticals, using data from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis and The six verticals we selected are banking and finance, information design jobs, management jobs, marketing jobs, sales jobs, and software development jobs. Using February 2020 (pre-pandemic) as the baseline, how has the job market changed over the last 3 1/2 years?

Fred Data

What we see is a lot of variability. Jobs like banking and finance are still above pre-pandemic levels, while marketing, information design, and software development jobs are well below pre-pandemic levels. Job seekers who were flush with opportunities in 2021 and the first half of 2022 are facing considerable headwinds over the last 12 months:

Fred data last 12 months

What we see for marketing jobs specifically is a bottom happening right now. Looking carefully at the marketing line (green) on the chart above, we see the lower end inflection point of a bounce, of a rebound from a low. That means for people looking for work in the marketing sector specifically, things may be improving very slightly – with an emphasis on slight. It’s still a challenging environment for marketers looking for work.

It’s also worth noting that very recently, sales jobs have gone into negative territory compared to pre-pandemic levels. When both sales and marketing hiring are receding, that’s an indication companies are not growing, or at least not growing enough to justify headcount for increased growth.

That said, we see that for most of the categories shown, we’re at the bottom of the bounce. Marketing and information jobs are on the ascent, albeit slowly, software jobs appear near their bottom, and sales probably still has a little ways to go before they bottom out of whatever is causing this jobs recession.

What does this mean for us? Obviously, if you’re a job seeker, it means that hopefully things are starting to improve for you. If you’re a hiring manager, this might indicate competition for certain types of candidates is going to start getting a little tougher; the pendulum of balance between candidate and employer may be beginning to swing in favor of the candidate again. When that happens, you’ll need to increase the appeal of working for your company. And for those of us marketing TO these various roles, the “that person is no longer with our company” message hopefully will be a little less frequent, especially as we head into Q4 and the new year.

We’ll keep checking in on employment numbers, probably once or twice a quarter, to see how the market is progressing; hiring is a great leading economic indicator because it’s so impactful to an organization and so costly compared to bringing in contractors or agencies. If a company is hiring, it’s growing, and if the economy overall is hiring, it’s a good sign for everyone.

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