What Does the National Unemployment Rate Mean to Recruiters?

The numbers get thrown around in the national news media all the time. Nearly eight million jobs lost during this recession . . . with only about 600,000 of those jobs recovered . . . and the national unemployment rate expected to hover around 10% for quite some time.

But what exactly does all of that mean for executive recruiters?

As a general rule, there are different unemployment rates:

  • The overall unemployment rate
  • The unemployment rate for people without a high school diploma
  • The unemployment rate for people with a high school diploma
  • The unemployment rate for people with a college degree

As expected, the unemployment rate for those without a high school diploma is much higher than for those who own a college degree. According to a recent article on Philly.com, the disparity was 15% to 4.7% as recently as May of this year. Interestingly enough, the same disparity existed five years ago, when the economy was much better than it is right now (7.8% to 2.4%).

Obviously, recruiters predominately place people who have a college degree. So while there are undoubtedly more unemployed job seekers with such a degree, that percentage is still nowhere near 10%. In fact, it’s about half that.

In addition, these numbers would theoretically mean that five years ago, 97.6% of all people with a college degree were employed and that right now, 95.3% of all people with a college degree are employed. It seems like such a small change, but the market is radically different for recruiters now as compared to 2005.

So that begs the question . . . what do all of these numbers mean? Do they mean anything? Does it depend on the industry and/or niche you’re working? Or do you not even give them credence?

With all the attention that's being focused on the national unemployment rate as an indication of what’s happening in the economy, I’m most interested in the opinions of recruiters who are working in the trenches right now. Those opinions are more a gauge of what’s really going on than all the statistical data that the mainstream media can muster.

(Matt Deutsch is a writer for Top Echelon's Recruiter Training Blog.)

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