Listening to the popular press about the status of the job market is enough to make your head spin. Let's face it: the goal of the media is to attract viewers to ultimately sell more advertising. We know the best way to attract viewers isn't to put on a broadcast that tells everyone how wonderful everything is. Rather there are two constants that you can always count on to attract viewership or readership: sex and fear/controversy. I won't broach the topic of "sex sells" in this blog; there are more than enough pieces about that and this is a family-friendly blog, but rather what I hope to clearly address is that much of the fear or uncertainly about the United States current labor situation is nothing more than hype. Before I do that I would like to state that I do know there are people still struggling to find quality and meaningful employment for a variety of reasons. Perhaps their skills haven't kept up with the changes in their field, or maybe technology has replaced their once invaluable expertise, or maybe they live in an area that used to be booming but whose industry has moved elsewhere. Whatever the reason, there are people who are struggling in this labor market. There are people who struggle in EVERY labor market.

My focus is going to be on the market that I serve--the creative, marketing and interactive space. Let's start with the facts (always a good place to start right??). In June 2015 the US economy added 223,000 jobs. This is on top of the 280,000 jobs added in May and the 223,000 jobs in April. The year-over-year job growth average since World War II has been 1.8%. Over the past year we have been seeing many months averaging well over 2% YOY growth. The total unemployment rate declined to 5.3%--a far cry from the 10.2% we saw in October 2009. The fact is that the U.S. economy has been adding jobs consistently and steadily across most sectors for a good while now.

That is just the tip of the iceberg. While the unemployment rate was 5.3% for all levels of education, again this is pretty darn good, the unemployment rate for individuals with a Bachelor's degree or higher was 2.5%. WOW! From a contingent labor standpoint, the market is hotter than ever. The temporary penetration rate, the percentage of the U.S. workforce that is comprised of temporary labor, has risen to more than 2%. In fact, the temp penetration rate now is stronger than it was in 1999, which many consider the golden times of the economy and industry. Remember Y2K? Remember the dot com craziness? Yep, things are hotter statistically now then they were in 1999. Just please don't invest in again! According to Staffing Industry Analysts marketing and creative is the 2nd fastest growing segment.

Validating this was the 2015 In-House Creative Industry Report. Survey respondents told us that 96% of internal departments were either looking to grow or maintain their current fulltime staff. 89% of survey respondents stated they were able to hire freelancers when needed. 72% of respondents stated they had less than 5% attrition last year. So clearly the sun is shining on the labor market as it relates to the creative, marketing and interactive industries. There is a lot of hiring going on with very little attrition. The war for top-notch creative talent is ON!

So, what's the rub? Unfortunately many key decision makers didn't get the memo on this. Let's be frank, the Great Recession was a traumatic event that deeply damaged the psyche of many companies and individuals. Many of these wounds still haven't healed. I STILL to this day meet with HR and procurement profesionals who make comments like "with the economy the way it is must be easy to find candidates with so many people looking for work." During the Great Recession we saw a huge swing in the role of procurement and finance with cost cutting ruling the day. Even though the market has changed, the internal power and dynamics haven't in many organizations. This is why we still have practices that make it very hard to hire talent-- whether it is constant hiring freezes or processes set up that inhibit hiring managers' ability to hire quality creative talent quickly.

Key Takeaways

  • Know the facts! If you need to build a business case to hire talent and your organization is still behaving like it is 2009 then you must know the facts. This information is very easily attainable through a variety of resources including Bureau of Labor Statistics and the 2015 In-House Industry report. Just turn off CNN, MSNBC, FOX News etc.
  • Destroy any roadblocks to acquiring great talent. If your organization makes it difficult for you to hire great talent by making you working through an ineffective Managed Service Provider (MSP) or Vendor Management Systems (VMS) system, grab your facts and work with your higher-ups to destroy any roadblocks. I can assure you the companies that are nimble and make it easy to hire talent are getting the best talent.
  • Keep your skills updated. The statistics tell different stories for those who keep their skills updated and relevant vs. those whose skills are no longer in demand. The world is moving at a very fast pace, and you need to keep up. Companies are still aggressively looking to cut costs and operate more efficiently. Keep your skills ahead of the curve.
  • Be confident. If you are considering a job change know that top skills are in demand. The war for top talent is in full swing.

The sun is shining. Make hay my friends.