Is the job market for professionals unraveling?
The jobs data in the US has recently taken a nasty spill. Last week it was an ugly jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It could bounce off next month, and the current data could be revised higher, but we’re not seeing the signs of this sort of hiring momentum.
Instead, we’re confronted with a sharp and ongoing deterioration of a leading indicator of the labor market: temporary jobs. They rise and fall months ahead of the overall number of jobs. The sector peaked in December 2015 at 2.94 million. It shed 21,000 jobs in May, and 63,800 since December. This is also what happened in 2007 and 2000, at the eve of recessions [read… What Makes this Jobs Report so Truly Ugly?].
This week, it was the Fed’s very own Labor Market Conditions Index which dropped to the worst level since the Financial Crisis, a level to which it typically drops shortly before the onset of a recession – and shortly before employment gives way altogether. It still could bounce off as it had done in early 2003, but it better do so in a hurry:
So now comes LinkedIn, or rather MKM Partners, an equity and economics research firm, with a report in Barron’s about LinkedIn – “While we like LinkedIn’s long-term prospects and believe that sentiment on the company’s opportunity is overly negative, we remain at Neutral on the stock,” it says. Rather than disputing the deterioration in the labor market or throwing some uplifting tidbits into the mix, the report highlights yet another 2009-type super-ugly data point.
LinkedIn has some, let’s say, issues. Its stock has gotten hammered, including a dizzying plunge in February. It’s now down over 50% from its high in February 2015. The company lost money in 2014, 2015, and in the first quarter 2016 despite soaring revenues. And that revenue growth may now be at risk.
But we aren’t concerned about the stock or the company. We’re concerned about that 2009-type super-ugly employment data point.
MKM Partners discussed that data point because it’s worried that investors might misconstrue it as weakness at LinkedIn, rather than what’s happening in the labor market and the overall economy:
We believe that LinkedIn is a unique network, the de facto in Recruiting with promising opportunities in Sales and Learning. We are concerned that the jobs tailwind over the past six-years is becoming a headwind and that any further softness in Hiring revenue would incorrectly be perceived as a TAM (total addressable market) issue vs. a macro issue.
The online jobs data is getting “incrementally worse,” the report explained (emphasis added):
After 73 consecutive months of year-over-year growth, online jobs postings have been in decline since February. May was by far the worst month since January 2009, down 285k from April and down 552k from a year ago.
Online job postings are not a direct revenue driver for LinkedIn. We do however believe it is a reflection of overall hiring activity and should be considered a check on demand vibrancy.
And the report frets that “further deterioration” could trigger a “revenue shortfall” in the second half.
LinkedIn caters to professionals, people with well-paid jobs, or people looking for well-paid jobs. They’re software developers, program managers, petroleum engineers, executives of all kinds, marketing professionals, sales gurus…. They span the entire gamut. And companies use LinkedIn to recruit those folks.
So with online job postings on LinkedIn plunging since February, and with May clocking in as “by far the worst month since January 2009,” then by the looks of it, businesses are slashing their recruiting efforts in those professional categories.
If that bears out, it would be another sign that not only the labor market but the overall US economy have taken a major hit recently, that businesses have started to respond to sales which have been falling since mid-2014 and to profits which have been falling since early 2015, and to productivity which declined in Q1 and has been weak for years – and that they’ve begun to look at their workforce for savings. And if this bears out, they will confront the possibility of a looming recession with even steeper cuts.
The evidence keeps piling up. In Texas, sales tax collections, a raw and unvarnished measure of the real economy, just experienced their worst plunge since the Financial Crisis. Read… Consumers in Texas Begin to React
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The problem is there is no economic growth in any industry. Just M&A and stock buy backs to spur earnings and revenue. Add to that declining demand and what is the end result? We’re seeing it now in these horrendous reports. But why worry. The stock market keeps grinding and grinding higher.
I shorted LinkedIn thanks to your insights…
When are you going to report on the Microsoft buyout?
You owe me $37,573 and counting…
You didn’t read my article about why I don’t short anything anymore.
So here it is:
Also, the article — titled, “LinkedIn Job Postings Plunge, ‘by far the Worst Month since January 2009’ —
was about professional jobs (job postings) and the employment situation in the US. That’s what the chart was about and most of the text. And it included this line:
“But we aren’t concerned about the stock or the company. We’re concerned about that 2009-type super-ugly employment data point.”
I had read it — but forgot about it :)
Apple would be a most dangerous short considering the pile of cash they’ve got in the bank!
True, you did say “But we aren’t concerned about the stock or the company. We’re concerned about that 2009-type super-ugly employment data point.”
I was joking that I shorted LinkedIn. Thanks for the link to your other article.
Glad to hear you were joking. Now that I’m re-reading your comment, it seems I should have picked up on it.
One factor may be that more and more professional positions are being targeted at H1-B candidates, who are hired through completely different channels.
True, but this has been happening since 2000. IT departments have been filled by H1Bs for years.
It started long before the millennium but has accelerated greatly since. Tech workers are being increasingly looked upon by the MBA’s as disposable resources, similar to how Rockefeller regarded his steel workers. Why employ an American when you can hire an H1-B for a third the salary, and as a bonus, they are indentured and can’t leave? It’s like crack to bean counters. Just ask Mickey Mouse.
The fallacy people have regarding H1B Pay is just that. I work in corporate recruiting and have worked with Indian on-shoring companies who specialize in H1B orientation & placement. My wife was an H1B worker from India. These people are not underpaid, in fact they’re paid more than full-time salaried workers to compensate for what are usually smaller benefits packages ( or they’re contractors )
If you’re typical salaried programmer is making 100k & benefits, your H1B contractors are usually making 110k assuming they’re at the same experience level.
It makes a good sound byte saying these people are underpaid and abused, the sad truth is though, companies just don’t want full-time workers, and immigrants often have better work ethics, they often work longer hours, they’re not forced at gun-point, they just have less entitlement.
I don’t support the H1B program in it’s current form, it is over-used and unnecessary, that said, you have no clue about H1B visa workers or their level of play, you’re just repeating some bullshit you heard or want to believe.
The H1B program is about siphoning talent from other countries, for our government, and for industry, it’s about having a larger pool of talent to pull from & to an extent to keep wages moderate with a larger pool of skilled professionals, it is about keeping wages down, but not by underpaying H1B workers, but by avoiding a scarcity of labor in IT fields that would see wages rise. So programmers make 100k now, without H1B workers that might be 150-200k.
Also, if that scarcity occurred, and those level of wages were required to recruit in the US, companies would likely off-shore ALL of their programming & IT to India. So it’s more nuanced than you think, without the exxpanded pool of talent here we might not have any Programming jobs in the US at all, except a handful of consultants and off-shoring intermediaries.
Sorry for the late reply. Your comment keeps bubbling up, so….
You might have had your positive experiences with H1-B visa folks from your point of view. But here is one on Southern Edison, quite the opposite of your statements (this blew into the open in Feb 2015, and there have been all kinds of developments since):
The H1-B abuses have become so common that even the US Senate has started investigating:
Anecdotal but telling.. It feels like we are going into a recession just before the election and that won’t help HRC but Trump seems too distracted by his own legal troubles to take advantage of it. If this isn’t the time for a 3rd party to move the needle in a significant way then that time will never come.
There will never be a 3rd party in the US. All of the existing manipulative BS is taken by the Red and Blue Team. Unless somebody has some amazing new BS to bamboozle the peasants with, there’s nothing for a 3rd party to do but tell the truth; which isn’t the purpose of a political party.
Until the Constitution is amended to get rid of the Electoral College, a third party would mean the election of the President would be assigned to the House of Representatives. And it seems doubtful that a “third party” would achieve a breakthrough for the next twenty years.
In twenty years, AI will become the “new Mandarin” of government and taxes, IMHO.
“The evidence keeps piling up”.
Employment and unemployment data are lagging indicators. Often by the time this data reaches recession territory, the recession is already six months or more along.
The litany of negative economic fundamentals is growing longer by the day. Taken as a whole they paint a grim economic picture of ever slowing and deepening stagnation.
Another negative economic signal. TAX COLLECTION.
Evercore ISI State Tax Survey
Payroll tax with holdings have slipped into recession range.
The last two times the survey plunged this much, the US was already in recession.
“Employment and unemployment data are lagging indicators”
Yes, that’s true.
Would you agree that investment index is a forecasting indicator?
How about recruiters not attracting the calibre of persons they are after?
I have friends with entries on Linked-in (UK). I wonder what it says about their loyalty to their current employers to give the impression they’re in the jobs market and on the look out for something else.
A healthy sense of self respect and an openness change? A realistic understanding of the reciprocal nature of employment? This is just weird. When my employer offers me ironclad job security with guaranteed promotions and raises at an agreed upon rate, then I’ll pretend employment is at least as serious a commitment as marriage. Until then… I’ll work hard, bit keep my eyes open…
The current employer has the option to try to match an offer. Loyalty is for suckers
We used to joke at work, “You pretend to pay me and we’ll pretend to work”.
Seriously, I always found that when I was working I had scads of job offers. I have only been unemployed a bit back in 81, maybe for 3-4 months. But I was also very young without very much experience. I think when you are unemployed it is much harder to find work than someone transitioning because you are out of the loop. Plus, employers seem to prefer people who are already working rather than someone who needs a job. It’s that ‘stigma’ thing.
I just wanted to agree that loyalty works both ways.
It’s not so much “stigma”, but resume readers. Resume reading software, which has become necessary because of overwhelming numbers of applicants, can be set to pass by applicants whose resumes indicate old graduation dates, no current position, etc.
Well documented, that if your chances of securing a new job diminish, the longer you have been without one.
LinkedIn is a fantastic professional network. Just because you have a Profile doesn’t mean you are looking for another job. It is a great networking tool . For someone with ” revenue generation” responsibilities to not have a presence on LI is an indictment of a lack of professionalism.. or just plain ignorance of what opportunity is right at your fingertips.
While others might take LinkedIn more seriously, my avatar is a DogAtAKeyboard and I haven’t updated in years for the most part. It is somewhat useful in contacting old coworkers – but my goal is sustainable long term employment and I don’t really relish the idea of changing jobs all that often. And the really good former coworkers I stay in touch with out-of-linkedin-network.
So, my point is, this is another barometer of the tech bubble which will one day disgorge itself on the market place and middle aged programmers will suddenly be wearing the shoes of those former mainframers.
Good times makes for spoilt children.
Just a thought. I have heard for the last 10 years or so, that operations that are energy-use intensive have been taking measures to make themselves more energy efficient, due to high and volatile oil prices. Even down to the cars we drive and the planes we are flown in being more fuel efficient. This was an argument put forth to explain why $100+ oil wouldn’t tank the economy.
So, it seems to me, if we accept this as true, the converse is that lowering oil prices don’t have the economic lifting effect they once had. This lack of economic lift is exacerbated by an oil and gas industry bust which takes a lot of very well paying jobs out of the economy. And there is a lot of collateral damage to all sorts of jobs any way dependent or associated with the energy industries. And this effect eventually ripples across much of the collective economy.
I would suggest that this scenario would account for lackluster professional jobs recruitment. In short, the loss of good jobs now hurts economic growth more that the lower energy prices help.
$147 oil did tank the economy – the collapse happened within months of that record price – it broke the camel’s back
According to the OECD Economics Department and the International Monetary Fund Research Department, a sustained $10 per barrel increase in oil prices from $25 to $35 would result in the OECD as a whole losing 0.4% of GDP in the first and second years of higher prices. http://www.iea.org/textbase/npsum/high_oil04sum.pdf
I believe the reason lower oil prices have not had the anticipated effect is because debt levels are off the charts — people are just flat broke.
Also — the real job rate is far higher than we are told – and finally incomes have dropped
Apparently, any salubrious effect of lower gas prices is immediately and directly eaten up by higher medical and medical insurance costs. There ain’t no energy dividend, iow. Thank you, Obomber.
That also would not be helpful…
There is nobody to blame for the fact that we are fast running out of low hanging fruit on the oil tree.
This baked into the cake a very long time ago.
So throw off the frustration — time is short — do enjoy the final months of civilization.
Linked In is an utterly useless site that does nothing more than put the headhunter/client/potential employee dynamic that has always existed on to the internet.
That dynamic is this: if your skills are in high demand, then you don’t need them; if your skills are not in demand, then they cant do much to help you anyway.
The real power and advantage of linkedin is the exploiting of personal networks. If you subscribe and cultivate your professional network carefully, you get connected to others in your field (plus 2-3 levels of connections), a properly optimized profile will attract plenty of headhunters. It’s awesome for the specialized professional in a globalized market. I get 5-10 hits a day, average 1 job offer per week from headhunters.
Nicko, I, too, used to get one or two offers per week, but most of them were scams, phising for personal info, from god knows where. I finally managed to quit that site.
Walked into an Outback restaurant in Longview TX last night at 630 pm, half empty. Two years ago the wait was 45 minutes to an hour. Many oil and gas professionals and those from associated industries are staying home and not because they are sitting around checking LinkedIn for jobs. The economy is dead because government policies have increased food and housing costs to the point that a large portion of the middle class is hunkered down at home, saving every dime, whether employed or not.
You mean employers are treating labor as nothing more than a commodity. Im sorry but Trump wont bring jobs back and the Administration does not set pay for most of the economy. Its not Obama’s fault that jobs are gone and the Corps pay each other, buyback stock etc etc. The Repubs own Congress = they appropriate all funding and set the tone for the country given they own the purse strings. A dead horse is dead. The Prez is powerless and Trump more so. Good luck!
I don’t know whether Trump will bring jobs back or not, but I do know Mrs. NAFTA hurt this country and its workers. She will sell out what’s left to the globalist not so free traitors(not a mistake).
The Republicans beat her to it. DO you think the trade agreements were simply forced on Republicans. Facts work hate of a particular party or individual does not. Congress approves any all agreements and all funding. The last 6 years of a Repub Congress have done what? Hilary’s fault or Obama’s flies in the face of the those holding the cards in terms of appropriations. So when Congress approves an idea or issue put forth by the President, they themselves are approving it and most importantly FUNDING it. That is a very Republican problem.
Yes, but foreign nationals still have a front-of-the line position from high end tech to picking tomatoes.
No doubt the world is grinding gears trying to get out of first, and not end up in last place in the race to the bottom, however personnel demand still controls the HR department actions but if they can do without, they will. It is called ‘working smarted’.
If you have to get employment via the HR department, you are a disposable asset to management. Executive Management is the asset not you, and those ‘positions’ don’t come via Linkedin.
No matter how you cut what is going on, the trail still leads right back to the Central Banks and the Goldman alumni that run them. There will two levels of wealth in the near future, all and none.
Just because there is a job posting doesn’t actually mean the company involved is taking hiring seriously, or maybe it’s just because LinkedIn is a next to worthless hiring resource.
In LinkedIn’s case, it’s all of the above. Fewer jobs and low ROI.
We’ll need more Fed smack for Wealth Effects. Hate to see Restoration Hardware struggling. My anxiety rises as I can’t tell if the Vampire Squid is feeding me disinformation. Flee now? They wouldn’t trade against me, would they? Take comfort, though. The coronation is assured and the table must be kept stable until November Tuesday. Then we’ll have Santa Claus and the hope of vast infrastructure spending. Buy those stocks until next year about this time.
“they” will trade you like a clunker for a new sucker. Like busboys at the backdoor your security is not their concern.
Many believe their ‘backs are covered’, their investments safe and sound, until is isn’t.
For every dollar you loose, you have to make 2 to be even again.
If you trust Wall Street, you are a brave soul. Disinformation IS information.
Don’t forget a lot of organizations advertise and interview even when they have someone picked out for the job. I have a friend who was picked to teach at a local college a full 1 year before the position is open. He has had leave from his current job to transition, and has already been offered the job at a particular pay scale. Yet, I saw the add posted because it is ‘policy’.
He starts in September.
My husband interviewed for a county job in Florida that was posted. We both knew these are insider jobs, but he wanted to experience a new interviewing technique they were espousing. All of these jobs go to the family and friends of the local politicians, but they are required to post them and waste people’s time in the process.
Knowing someone inside of any organization yields an advantage. Surely you know this and the Corporate world is just as bad if not worse. Many if not most jobs are filled by word of mouth and through known connections. The real world is somewhat brutal that way.
As far as gov jobs they have particular skill sets and knowledge of existing systems and protocols is a must. Gov jobs are not ones where time and money can be spent on training someone from the ground up. In many cases a Veterans preference is utilized as well. You have an opinion that time was wasted. Prove it. So since you or your spouse were not hired you default to rumor or other less than factual data to say why one was not hired. Stop watching Fox News and get out there and prove your assertions.
I rarely watch Fox, but I have seen an increase in trolls for Hillary on the web. I understand she has to pay them to get them to say anything positive.
Any business whose revenues are based on growing or even sound employment trends in Amerika are going to lose money in the current paradigm of ‘globalization or die’ policies of the US federal government
You don’t believe Hillary and her Republican admirers will use LinkedIn when they ramp up the new CCC?
Not only jobs taking a “nasty spill”.
More than 500,000 childless single adults, will lose SNAP benefits in 2016 as waivers expire. These expirations of the 90 day time limit on the program began January 01, 2016 and are now quickly mounting in the number of recipients being cut off.
This group of citizens are among some of the poorest in the country.
A Summer of discontent deepens, as EBT cards are no longer valid.
Some of those single adults are college students. I don’t think anybody has any idea of how much hunger there is on college campuses these days.
Two college students who know very little about gardening have dug up the area I always wanted a garden in, gotten seeds from the Library, and are taking turns showing up twice a day to water them(my landlady had already given me permission). Yes. They are hungry.
I’m noticing this in my Spanish town as well.
Yep. I get an inbox full of job postings every day. I have applied for literally a thousand jobs. Everything from pest control worker to executive management. Cant get hired. The fake unemployment numbers are further proof that our friends and neighbors are either: 1. just stupid, 2. medicated, or 3. just can’t do math and couldn’t care less as long as they get their beer, cigarettes, and DVDs on time. I love the country dearly but I think we are seeing a dumbing down that is breath taking and will have disastrous longterm consequences. Wake up American!
Unfortunately, the ones that need to hear your message are not reading this blog……
So the Obama labor department makes some of the most sweeping changes in the overtime/wage & hour laws for salaried people in 50 years, and nobody makes the basic connection with an immediate slump in hiring activity? Yes, the new regs don’t go into effect until January 1, but every business person I know has put the brakes on hiring until full clarity is achieved on these regs. Once again, the Feds are acting as if they can do anything they want to crush the profit margins of PEOPLE WHO HIRE OTHERS, and it somehow won’t hurt the economy.
And still Microsoft buys another ‘Lumia’ for $32B.
Yes can confirm this is true. I work in London in IT and Brexit has killed the job market for software developer roles.
Big corporates have just battened down the hatches.
There are still jobs around, but they are either poorly paid or in certain niches (music is still doing well it would seem).