What the Data Tells Us about Hiring Trends in 2017

At Glassdoor, I spend my time trying to make sense of the labor market through research, primarily with our own data. In 2016 I learned a lot about hiring challenges facing both the recruiter and job seeker, about how the labor market has fluctuated, and what folks can expect going into the new year. As we close our books for 2016, let’s examine how things went, and see what this means for the year to come.

A Remarkable Year for Hiring

With significant gains, the economy turned a corner this year and continues to be strong and healthy. Unemployment is at its lowest since 2007, and we are in the longest streak on record for positive job gains.

So pat yourselves on the back. Every new you role you filled in 2016 contributed to today’s historically strong job market.

Hiring is Tougher Than Ever

This tight labor market makes it tough for employers to hire. As of April, the economy set a new all-time record of 5.85 million unfilled job openings, the most since the BLS started collecting surveys of open jobs in 2000. The ratio of unemployed Americans to open jobs is 1.4 to 1, down sharply from July 2009 when that ratio was 6.6 to 1. With fewer unemployed people looking for jobs, sourcing is simply harder.

If you met your 2016 hiring goals, you deserve congratulations for doing it in an extremely competitive market. If you didn’t, these extraordinary circumstances may help explain why.

Explosion of Tech Roles Across Industries

An increasing number of traditional employers need to hire what have been typically considered tech roles — data scientists, software engineers, mobile developers, etc. Our technology-driven lifestyles mean that more employers in finance, retail, healthcare, etc., need employees who can derive insights from data, create a mobile app, or code a website. A tight overall hiring market and increased demand for tech talent makes recruiting those coding and analytics stars even more difficult.

Big Push for Pay Transparency

Transparency in the workplace isn’t new, but in 2016 we saw a big push from policymakers for employers be more transparent about pay. New rules from the federal government will require some employers to disclose workers’ pay by gender, race/ethnicity; and the SEC has new rules that will require disclosure of the ratio between CEO pay and median worker pay.

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Increased attention on pay transparency and pay equity means job seekers and employees will come armed with information to job interviews and performance reviews. In 2017, employers should prepare for increased salary negotiations.

Finally Seeing Gains in Americans’ Paychecks

Despite significant and robust job gains across the U.S., wage growth has been fairly slow to catch up. But, some good news in late 2016 shows wages are on the right track to continue to rise for the U.S. workforce. Glassdoor’s own salary data show a 3.1 percent year-over-year growth — the fastest pace in three years. As you prepare for the year ahead, make sure offers and raises are in line with current salary trends.

About the Author

Dr. Andrew Chamberlain is chief economist at Glassdoor. He oversees the research program at Glassdoor, providing analysis and commentary on labor market trends. He is an applied microeconomist who has written widely on labor markets and public policy. His work has been published in academic journals, cited in U.S. congressional testimony, and has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Washington Post, NPR, BBC, and many others. He is a regular guest on a variety of television and radio programs. Previously he served as a policy economist in Washington, D.C., and as chief economist at Columbia Economics, L.L.C. He received his Ph.D. in economics from the University of California, San Diego, and bachelor’s degrees in economics and business administration from the University of Washington in Seattle.

  • Jim D’Amico

    Thank you, great end of year info!

  • Steve Levy

    The inherent problem with economists discussing hiring is that at the 36,000 foot level you’re left with generalizations without substance. “This tight labor market makes it tough for employers to hire….With fewer unemployed people looking for jobs, sourcing is simply harder.”

    Possible assumptions to these generalization include (not in any special order):

    Sourcers only source those who are unemployed;

    All companies hire the same way;

    All companies share equal employment brand desirability;

    All companies employ GD as a key source of hire;

    All recruiters are equally skilled;

    Pay is the primary bait used to recruit people.

    Feel free to add more assumptions…

    Data is nice but data in the wrong hands can cause people to make conclusions that sound good on paper but lack substance in real life.