May 2024

Labor Market
Trends and Insights

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Labor market trends at a glance
3.9%
Unemployment rate
(April 2024)
8.49 million
Job openings
(March 2024)
68%
Companies hiring in
the next 6 months
78%
Companies that
use remote freelancers
37%
Workers who
are fully remote

What the Numbers Mean for You

Despite economic headwinds, a resilient labor market continues to be tight. The current unemployment rate of 3.9% remains low.

The bottom line: Recruitment and retention remain critical issues for companies. To stay competitive and access the skills they need, organizations are hiring more freelancers, boosting pay, and offering greater flexibility around when – and where – people work.

Hiring Trends

It remains a hot – and highly competitive – market for top talent. Companies of all sizes plan to continue staffing up. Demand is most acute for skilled IT and networking professionals, particularly those in data science and analytics roles.

Companies
are staffing up

68%
of companies plan to hire in the next 6 months.

Midsize companies are staffing up the most

78%
of midsize¹ companies plan to hire in the next 6 months. Just 40% of very small companies² plan to hire over that time.

Hiring is strongest among IT and networking teams

82%
of companies plan to hire in the next 6 months.

Hiring is difficult

36%
of managers said it’s hard to find talent for administrative support roles
82%
of managers said it’s hard to find talent for customer support roles.

Midsize companies are

staffing up the most

19%
of companies plan to hire in the next 6 months. Just 40% of small companies plan to hire over that time.
¹
201-1,000 employees
²
<50 employees

Experience level managers 
are looking to hire

51%
Mid Level
44%
Senior Level
29%
Entry Level
23%
Executive Level

Experience level managers are looking to hire in administrative support

63%
Mid Level
44%
Senior Level
29%
Entry Level
23%
Executive Level

Help wanted: A look at the most difficult roles to fill

Percentage of managers who said it’s hard to find talent for the following roles:

Compare to Roles in Demand

Data Science and Analytics
Finance
Accounting
Operations
HR
Web, Mobile and Software Development
Design and Creative
Marketing
Sales
IT and Networking
Architecture and Engineering
Writing and Content
Admin Support
Customer Support
Merchandising
0%
20%
40%
60%
80%
Difficulty hiring

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Diversity Grpahic

The Use
of Freelancers

Companies are increasingly relying on remote freelancers. Thirty-six percent of the U.S. workforce did freelance jobs in 2021. And another 20 percent of Americans are considering freelancing. More and more of these professionals are highly skilled and educated. Location flexibility is a key driver of this trend.

Midsize companies will rely on remote freelancers the most

In the next 6 months

59%
plan to use more remote freelancers

In the next 2 years

60%
plan to use more remote freelancers

Percentage of work done by remote freelancers

19%
of marketing work is done
by remote freelancers

Percentage of work done by remote freelancers

19%
of marketing work is done by remote freelancers
19%
of marketing work is done by remote freelancers

The amount of work done by remote freelancers is highest in tech roles

Percentage of work done by freelancers:

IT and Networking
Web, Mobile and Software Development
Architecture and Engineering
Data Science and Analytics
Design and Creative
Finance
Marketing
Merchandising
Writing and Content
Accounting
Admin Support
Sales
Customer Support
Operations
HR
0%
5%
10%
15%
20%
25%

Skilled remote freelancing rising

A majority (53 percent) of freelancers now provide skilled services such as IT, marketing and business consulting. And among all education groups, post-grads are now the most likely to freelance.

Precentage of overall freelancers: 36%
+6ppt
since 2019
51%
Post-grad
31%
HS grad or less
35%
Some college + associate degree
35%
Bachelor’s degree

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Remote
Work Trends

Companies are planning to scale back remote work options. The problem? Workers don’t want to return to the office. In fact, many people say they’d consider seeking employment elsewhere if they can’t work remotely.
Today
37%
21%
43%
27%
21%
51%
In the Next
12 Months
28%
20%
52%
In the Next
5 Years
Fully Remote
Hybrid
Fully On-Site
Very small companies are embracing remote work the most

In the next 12 months

33%
of very small companies expect to be fully remote

In the next 5 years

34%
expect to be fully remote

Workers don’t want to go back to the office

Only 24%

of workers are excited about returning to the office. Those who are back in the office already are the ones most likely to be excited about the decision.

24%

of workers who are not excited would be willing to take a pay cut to work remotely. An additional 35% would consider it.

34%

of workers who were remote during the pandemic are not excited about returning to the office.

17%

of those working remotely during the pandemic would probably or definitely consider looking for another job if they have to go back to the office. This represents 9 million workers.

Companies are relying more on remote freelancers today than 1 year ago

Have used
remote freelancers

78%

Have used more
remote freelancers

52%

Companies will rely on remote freelancers even more in the future

In the
next 6 months

45%
plan to use more remote freelancers

In the
next 2 years

47%
plan to use more remote freelancers

Percentage of companies that plan to use more remote freelancers in the future

50%
40%
30%
20%
10%
0%
20%
25%
In the next 6 months
22%
25%
In the next 2 years
Significantly more
Somewhat more

Turnover

Retention problems have increased since the start of the pandemic – and the turnover troubles continue. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 47 million Americans quit their jobs in 2021, the most resignations on record.

The Great Resignation is significantly impacting companies of all sizes, but turnover is highest among midsize companies.

This is some text inside of a div block.

50%

of managers said turnover within their team has increased compared to before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Turnover is greatest
among midsize companies

60%

of managers at midsize companies have seen
higher turnover compared to pre-pandemic levels.

Just 25%

of managers at small companies have seen
higher turnover.

Managers taking steps to retain key staff

88% of managers are taking steps to retain key members of their team.
These are the steps they're taking:

Focused on strengthening team culture
Offered benefits that allow for greater flexibility
Increased salaries
Provided coaching and training opportunities
Added staff
0%
20%
40%
60%

Productivity

62% of managers have changed how they measure worker productivity as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here’s how their views have changed:

Same Amount of Focus
More Focus
Less Focus
51%
33%
16%
Working Traditional
Business Hours
50%
37%
13%
Number of Hours
Worked per Week
49%
44%
7%
Quality of Work
49%
43%
8%
Quantity of Work
53%
40%
7%
Ability to
Meet Deadlines
Same Amount of Focus
More Focus
Less Focus

Business Confidence

Managers are confident in their ability to hire

01
75%

are confident in their ability to find and hire the talent they need.
Those who engaged more remote freelancers in the past 12 months

are much more confident in their ability to hire than those who engaged fewer remote freelancers (81% vs. 58%).

Managers are confident
they can retain key workers

02
80%

are confident in their ability to retain critical team members.

Managers have the resources they need

03
80%

are confident they have the resources needed to meet objectives.

Managers have the skills they need on their team

04
83%

have the skills among their team members that they need to meet their objectives.

But full confidence is elusive.

Managers in IT and networking and web, mobile, and software development are the most confident across all 4 categories.

Managers in marketing are the least confident across all 4 categories.
Only 16%

of managers are “fully confident,” meaning they are very confident in all 4 categories above.

Remote freelancers can help companies respond to disruption

54%

of managers who have engaged remote
freelancers are very confident in their
organization’s ability to respond to disruption.

In comparison, just 45%

of managers who have not engaged remote
freelancers are very confident in their
organization’s ability to respond to
disruption.

Methodology

Research was conducted by independent research firm ClearlyRated. Survey data is used to understand hiring trends and sentiments among hiring managers. More than 1,000 U.S. hiring managers were surveyed through a third-party, independent online sample between June 24, 2021 and July 21, 2021. Overall margin of error of ±3.06% at 95% confidence level.

Some findings on freelancing came from a separate study conducted by independent research firm Edelman Data & Intelligence. 6,000 U.S. working adults over the age of 18 were surveyed online between August 27, 2021 and September 29, 2021. The study has an overall margin of error of ±1.2% at the 95% level of confidence.