The US Job Market is a Contradiction

The current US job market seems to be in a state of flux. More companies have announced layoffs and hiring freezes, yet the unemployment rate remains low. Some of the statistics appear contradictory and, in an effort to make sense of this data, we sat down with Sara Causey, a Staffing & Recruiting SME and the owner of Causey Consulting LLC, for guidance.

In light of the strange mixture of statistics we’re hearing about the current labor market, how are you making sense of all this?

It’s tricky, to be sure. In my opinion, we are in a transitional period at the moment. I think some job seekers and employees believe that The Great Resignation will last forever and there has been a sea-change in Corporate America. At the risk of sounding like a total pessimist, I don’t believe that’s true. I have encouraged people to get as much as possible out of The Great Resignation precisely because huge market shifts don’t last forever. We’ve seen the same thing play out in the real estate market. Last summer, sellers were at a huge advantage over buyers. That’s not the case anymore. A lot of buyers have walked away from the market to wait on the sidelines for better conditions.

Do you see companies walking away from candidates like buyers walked away from sellers?

In some cases, yes. What I am seeing in the current market is that companies are getting more strategic and intentional about which positions they will fill and most of the time, they are more willing to hold out for what they want versus what things were like last summer. Summer of 2022 seems to be totally different from Summer of 2021 in my experience.

Is there a backlash to The Great Resignation?

Probably so. There was a recent article on Bloomberg about recruiters feeling frustrated with Gen Z and the things they ask for in order to start a job. Things like $90,000 and unlimited PTO with no previous experience. Sometimes in movements, the pendulum can swing so far in one direction that a market correction is absolutely inevitable. We also know that markets are cyclical, so what comes up must eventually come down. And I think that’s where we’re at right now. The heat we saw in the job market last year and earlier this year is cooling off. My fear is that people won’t be able to time the bottom of that cooling off cycle and may suffer for it.

Suffer in what ways?

Well, there’s a saying amongst investors that you can’t time a stock market bottom with total accuracy. I would say the same thing about the job market, too. We can’t know just how cold this cooling off period will get and I believe it’s wise to stay prepared. Layoffs are already increasing. There was another article recently on LinkedIn referring to how many companies conducted layoffs in June and July. Some of those companies cut staff by 30 or 40 percent, which is troubling to me. So when I say people might suffer for not being able to know the bottom of the job market what I mean is: they might be caught off-guard by a layoff or a company shutdown and feel as though they never saw it coming. That is not a fun place to be.

What suggestions do you have about that?

Preparation and paying attention. To me, those things are the ultimate bottom line. Do you know if the company you work for is in good shape financially? If not, can you conduct research to find out? Do you feel like your role is integral to the company? Or are there 10 other people on staff who do the same thing? Are you in an industry considered essential? Is your industry growing or shrinking? These are important things to consider to at least give yourself an important heads-up as we weather this transitional period.

For more HR insights, you can visit Sara at