So, exactly how is the U.S. economy faring these days? And for that matter, what’s up with the job market? A random glance through articles published across various media outlets won’t help extract a clear answer. According to many, we’re teetering on the verge of recession, inflation is crippling, and everyone is getting laid off. According to many others, we’re experiencing a historically robust market. The problem with all of this is that the conflicting narratives, dire headlines, and pointless clickbait negatively impact jobseekers, especially those who are entering the workforce or looking to reskill for greater stability in the long term. Fortunately, we have data. And that data allows us to look at the situation realistically to forecast the skills needed today for jobs that will endure through tomorrow.
The U.S. Economy Is Actually Pretty Strong
Yes, according to actual data, the U.S. economy is galloping along at a pretty strong clip. As we wrote last week, GDP increased at a 3.3% annualized rate in the fourth quarter of 2023. Wall Street had been looking for a 2% gain. The U.S. economy for all of 2023 accelerated at a 2.5% annualized pace, well ahead of projections. And despite the tech industry’s layoff frenzy, unemployment overall is lower than it has been in half a century.
About 14.3 million more people are employed now than when Joe Biden entered office in January 2021. And by the end of January, job creation numbers far exceeded analysts’ predictions, as Barron’s pointed out: “The labor market started the year on a strong note as payroll growth in January once again tore past more modest expectations. The U.S. added 353,000 jobs in January, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data released Friday.”
Even opponents of the current administration’s policies have admitted that the economy has prospered. Giulia Carbonaro covered this topic in Newsweek:
Former Trump economic advisor Larry Kudlow conceded that his prediction of a looming recession was wrong and admitted that the U.S. economy is doing much better than expected under President Joe Biden.
Talking on Fox News' America Reports on Thursday, Kudlow offered a "mea culpa."
“I was wrong about the slowdown and the recession. So was the entire forecasting fraternity,” Kudlow, now a Fox Business Network host, said.
But the Economy Paints a Blurry Picture
The disparity between the unprecedented wealth generated by the United States and the levels of financial instability that persist in countless households contributes to the blurry picture. For example, tech companies are expected to report record profits, as Bloomberg announced: “Along with Microsoft Corp., which just hit a historic $3 trillion market valuation, Alphabet Inc., Meta Platforms Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. are set to post record revenues for the quarter, underscoring the strength of the US economy.”
But that news comes in stark contrast to the 260,000 workers laid off by those same tech companies, who say more positions will be cut in the near future.
Then there’s the inflation problem, exacerbated by layoffs and price hikes designed to maximize bottom line profits. As interest costs rise, a vicious circle manifests, in which spikes in interest rates trigger higher funding costs and higher debt issuance, which leads to more bond liquidation. This then brings us back to higher rates, which put us in an untenable fiscal position.
When you combine all of this, you get a confusing picture: profits are soaring and jobs are being created; but, jobs are being lost en masse and people can’t afford things. It’s quite the pickle. And it makes people who are entering the job market or looking to bolster their competitiveness wary of their prospects. It’s here where candidates need to turn off the news and focus on the data.
Fastest Growing Industries with Staying Power for Workers
CareerOneStop is an employment resource sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), leveraging data collected by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Based on all this data, there are 194 growing industries in the United States, projected to expand between now and 2032. Examining this data sheds new light on the skills that workers can develop or capitalize on for longevity and prosperity. Let’s look at the top 10 industries and the rates by which they are increasing.
- Geothermal electric power generation, 61%
- Solar electric power generation, 61%
- Wind electric power generation, 60%
- Other electric generation, 46%
- Electrical equipment and component manufacturing, 35%
- Services for the elderly and persons with disabilities, 29%
- Educational support services, 28%
- Offices of physical, occupational and speech therapists, and audiologists, 28%
- Office of mental health practitioners, 21%
- Home healthcare services, 20%
Just below those, we also see the following.
- Outpatient mental health and substance abuse centers, 20%
- Computer systems design and related services, 19%
- Veterinary services, 19%
- Web search portals, libraries, archives, and other information services, 19%
- Software publishers, 18%
- Ambulatory healthcare services, 17%
- Computing infrastructure providers, data processing, web hosting, and related services, 14%
After analyzing the numbers, what becomes evident is that focusing exclusively on landing a job at Google or Amazon or Microsoft could be limiting candidates in the workforce. Sustainable Energy, Healthcare, Manufacturing, and Finance rank among the fastest growing industries according to the data. And within those sectors, tech skills remain transferable and highly in demand.
The transition to a sustainable economy is not only essential for protecting the environment, it also has the potential to create millions of new jobs and boost economic growth. Analysts from several well-respected organizations have found that green economies can be rich economies.
- The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that the transition to a green economy could create 24 million new jobs globally by 2030.
- A study by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) found that investments in renewable energy could create up to 20 million new jobs globally by 2030.
- Data from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and the World Research Institute (WRI) have produced similar figures, with some estimates predicting an increase in over 40 million new jobs.
- Two of the occupations that the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects to have the fastest employment growth from 2020 to 2030 are wind turbine service technicians (68-percent increase) and solar photovoltaic installers (52-percent increase).
One of the notable advantages staffing providers bring to the table is their ability to facilitate the transfer of skills from traditional industries to the green sector. For instance, individuals with experience in non-renewable energy fields can seamlessly transition to roles in renewable energy, bringing with them valuable skills such as project management, electrical expertise, and safety protocols adherence.
Workers in the oil and gas industry, for instance, often possess skills in machinery operation, maintenance, and safety protocols. These skills are highly transferable to roles in renewable energy, such as operating and maintaining solar or wind energy systems.
For tech talent, the green economy relies on digital skills.
- IT Advisors offer guidance on the environmental impact of companies’ IT systems, often providing clear pathways to a greener approach.
- App Developers create innovative technology solutions that will allow users to make greener lifestyle choices.
- Data Analysts track waste and capture data to determine how packaging and recycling industries can become more sustainable.
- Software Developers of all kinds are needed to build the technology we will use to track, analyze, and create more sustainable lifestyles.
In her article for Forbes, Tracy Bower, PhD, explores healthcare skills and roles with the greatest growth potential, utilizing the same CareerOneStop information. “Mental health has been declining with steady increases in depression and decreases in overall wellbeing,” she wrote. “Relatedly then, mental health practice is up 21% with psychiatric and substance abuse services up 12% and wellbeing/fitness centers growing by 11%.” Here are some other jobs Dr. Bower included.
- Nurse Practitioner – This role is growing at 40% with an average salary of $125,000. As a nurse practitioner you’ll see patients and offer services greater than an RN, but less than a doctor. You’ll do patient exams, diagnostic tests and prescribe medications. Get started with a bachelor’s degree and two years of an advanced degree, as well as a license.
- Assistant Occupational Therapist – The growth for this profession is expected to be 25% with an average salary of $66,000. Assistant occupational therapists work with occupational therapists to help people develop their physical abilities. You can get started with an associate’s degree and a license to practice.
- Speech-Language Pathologist – This job is growing at 21% and makes an average of $89,000. Get started by obtaining your bachelor’s and master’s degrees and your license. Your work will be in supporting people who have difficulty swallowing or speaking.
Yes, tech jobs are still on America’s most wanted lists, even if the largest tech companies are eliminating thousands of them. In fact, some of the talent displaced from those digital giants have gone on to start their own companies — and they need workers. As of February 2023, one-third of former Google employees have started startups, worth $15 billion in total. 70% of these startups are in seed and series A, B, and C funding rounds.
Freya Pratty, discussing this trend for Sifted, explained how ex-Googlers are jumping into climate technology:
“Google’s parent company, Alphabet, laid off 12,000 staff earlier this year. This included significant cuts to the workforce of Area 120, an incubator within Google that was focused on innovative projects, many among them sustainability-focused. Many recent leavers are starting their own companies and they’re increasingly working on climate tech, says Steffen Ehrhardt, who worked at Google for nearly 20 years and now runs angel syndicate EXFI, which solely invests in startups founded by Google alumni.”
Or, as Bloomberg reported, some of Google’s leading AI scientists have decided to form their own organizations: “Laurent Sifre, who has been working as a scientist at DeepMind, is in talks to form the company, known at the moment as Holistic, with fellow DeepMind scientist Karl Tuyls, said the people, asking not to be identified discussing private information. They said the venture may be focused on building a new AI model.”
These organizations, along with many others, are seeking Data Scientists, Cybersecurity Professionals, Software Developers, AI Scientists, and more.
How Staffing Providers Can Help
While job boards and corporate recruiters play important roles in the job market, staffing providers offer a unique set of services that can enhance the job search process for candidates. Job seekers may benefit from leveraging a combination of these resources to maximize their chances of finding suitable employment opportunities.
- Specialized Knowledge: Staffing providers often specialize in specific industries or job sectors. They have in-depth knowledge of the job market, industry trends, and the specific skills required. This specialization allows them to better match candidates with suitable positions.
- Extensive Network: Staffing agencies typically have a broad network of employers, including small and medium-sized businesses that may not post their job openings on public job boards. This network can provide job seekers with access to a wider range of opportunities.
- Access to Unadvertised Jobs: Many job openings are not publicly advertised, and employers prefer to use staffing agencies to find suitable candidates discreetly. By partnering with a staffing provider, job seekers can tap into this hidden job market and discover opportunities that may not be available through other channels.
- Pre-screening and Skill Assessment: Staffing agencies often conduct thorough pre-screening and skill assessments of candidates. This ensures that job seekers are matched with positions that align with their skills, experience, and career goals. It saves time for both candidates and employers in the hiring process.
- Career Guidance and Coaching: Staffing providers can offer personalized career guidance and coaching to job seekers. This may include resume optimization, interview preparation, and advice on skill development. These additional services can significantly improve a candidate's chances of securing a job.
- Temporary and Contract Opportunities: Staffing agencies often have access to temporary and contract positions, providing job seekers with the flexibility to gain experience in various roles and industries. This can be especially valuable for individuals looking to explore different career paths or gain exposure to new environments.
- Negotiation Support: Staffing agencies can assist with salary negotiation and other aspects of the job offer. Their experience in negotiating on behalf of both candidates and employers can lead to more favorable outcomes for job seekers.
- Continuous Support: Staffing providers maintain relationships with both candidates and clients even after a successful placement. This ongoing support can be valuable for job seekers as they navigate their careers, offering opportunities for advancement and professional development.
Layoffs in headline making organizations will undoubtedly continue. But that doesn’t mean your economic prospects are weak or that you can’t land a dream job with an employer who respects you and rewards your skills. Contact us today to learn more about how to optimize your job search.