Aug 5, 2022 - Economy & Business

Red-hot job market widens opportunity for more workers

Data: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Erin Davis/Axios Visuals

As tongues wagged over July's blockbuster payrolls data, one bullish point flew under the radar. The number of long-term unemployed people has plunged, reaching its lowest mark since the start of the century.

By the numbers: 1.79 million people were unemployed for 15 weeks or more in July, down 61% from a year earlier, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

  • That’s the lowest point in any single month since July 2000 with the exception of April 2020 — and it’s down from a pandemic high of 8.13 million in August 2020.
  • The sharp drop reflects the continued resiliency of the job market, which has now recovered all of the nearly 22 million jobs it had lost during the pandemic.

The big picture: Facing intense labor shortages, employers are beginning to hire workers they previously would not have considered, Goodwill Industries International CEO Steve Preston tells Axios.

  • “There’s just huge demand in the marketplace, so those people are being pulled in,” Preston says. “It's a very encouraging number.”

Behind the curtain: In some cases, employers are abandoning resume-filtering algorithms that automatically eliminated long-term unemployed people as job candidates, Preston says.

  • Some employers are no longer requiring college degrees for certain positions, while others are hiring recently incarcerated individuals or are considering people with “other life challenges,” Preston says.

💭 Nathan’s thought bubble: Recent layoff announcements have been reason to question the strength of the job market. But today's jobs report suggests that hiring is overwhelming dismissals for now.

  • People of color and women specifically have enjoyed significant job gains over the last year.
  • “Employees are still starving to get employees,” Lightcast senior economist Ron Hetrick wrote Friday.
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