'Felony-friendly' jobseekers offer U.S. labour market clue

Strong market drawing in workers from sidelines
By Ann Saphir
|hrreporter.com|Last Updated: 05/04/2018
Prison
The front gate is pictured at the Taconic Correctional Facility in Bedford Hills, N.Y., April 8, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/File

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) — The U.S. unemployment rate fell to four per cent last month, a government report on Friday will likely show, but fresh clues in less-conventional job postings and searches suggest there may yet be slack in labour markets.

At Indeed.com, more jobseekers are looking for employers who will hire quickly and will not let a criminal conviction stand in the way.

Searches for jobs hiring "immediately" rose more than tenfold in the first four months of the year over the same time frame last year, data provided to Reuters by Indeed.com showed. Searches for "felony friendly" rose nearly threefold.

Other trending searches included "no degree required," "no experience paid training," and "now hiring full time," suggesting a strengthening U.S. labour market is drawing in workers from the sidelines and encouraging people in less-than-ideal jobs to look for better ones.

At the same time, the terms are not suggestive of a workforce that is becoming pickier, says Indeed.com economist Martha Gimbel.

"It is reflective of a workforce that is realizing there are opportunities in the job market," Gimbel said, adding that if more people are coming in from the sidelines, "it may be a while longer" before wage growth kicks in.

There are exceptions. In Midland, Texas, where an oil boom is on, Cudd Energy general manager Clint Walker says demand for workers is so high that “people have been going up and, for lack of a better term, poaching the hands,” offering 25 per cent more than what he pays them.

But most parts of the country are noticeably cooler.

Data provided to Reuters from ZipRecruiter showed a surge in employer postings for jobs requiring no experience, offering training, and welcoming felons to apply. The data shows an even faster surge in overall job postings.

The ZipRecruiter data also showed that employers are broadening their hiring pool: among job titles that pay in the top 60 per cent, ZipRecruiter found a 2.5 per cent decline in educational requirements over the past year.

That's broadly in line with the experience of Paul McDonald, senior executive director at recruiting firm Robert Half, who these days often coaches hiring managers to be more "realistic" about the skills and experience they require in an applicant.

So, despite a U.S. unemployment rate that is forecast to reach levels not seen since the 1960s, there are still jobs to be had as employers loosen their demands in hope of filling positions.

Jobseekers are getting the message.

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