In the years following the Great Recession, employers were wary to make broad and lasting hiring decisions, instead taking a slow and cautious approach to filling staffing needs. The economy was recovering, but for every piece of positive news there seemed to be a setback either here or abroad that hindered the job market from bouncing back to its pre-recession employment rates.
According to CareerBuilder’s 2015 hiring forecast, the U.S. job market is turning a corner as caution gives way to confidence. More than one-third of employers expect to add full-time, permanent staff in 2015, the best outlook from the annual survey since 2006.
Employers, now facing a more competitive market that favors job seekers in various fields, will need to step up their recruitment efforts if they want to secure the most desirable candidates for their open positions.
Full-time, temporary and part-time hiring all to increase
Thirty-six percent of employers plan to increase full-time, permanent staff in the coming year, a 12-point jump from 2014. Industries that have already been experiencing accelerated growth are expected to outperform the national average when it comes to the hiring of full-time, permanent employees. These include:
- Information technology (54 percent)
- Financial services (42 percent)
- Manufacturing (41 percent)
- Health care (38 percent)
Temporary employment is also projected to pick up in 2015, with 46 percent of employers planning to hire temporary or contract workers, up from 42 percent last year. As in years past, this is in part due to employers striving to maintain some flexibility in their workforce to more easily adapt to market fluctuations. However, in 2015 more employers may also find themselves struggling to fill in-demand roles, causing them to make temporary hires until they find more suitable replacements.
Twenty-three percent of employers expect to recruit part-time workers over the next 12 months, up six percentage points over 2014. While a variety of factors will influence this trend, the Affordable Care Act is one of the reasons why employers stated they’ll likely hire more part-time workers in 2015. Fourteen percent of employers cite the law as their motive for part-time hiring.
STEM jobs continue to be in the spotlight
Hiring for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) occupations has exploded over recent years, and this trend shows no sign of slowing. Thirty-one percent of hiring managers plan to create jobs in these areas throughout 2015, up from 26 percent in 2014.
Positions tied to revenue growth, innovation and customer loyalty will also see a surge in full-time, permanent hiring in the New Year, with sales (36 percent), customer service (33 percent), information technology (26 percent), production (26 percent) and administrative (22 percent) roles leading the pack.
Workers are winning the wage increase war
There are two main factors that are predicted to impact pay for employees of various levels next year: the battle over minimum wage and heightened competition for high-skill candidates.
Raising the minimum wage was one of the most hotly debated issues of 2014. While it remains to be seen whether the federal minimum wage will increase, many employers are taking steps on their own to provide bigger paychecks next year. Forty-five percent of employers expect to raise the minimum wage within their organizations in 2015. Of those employers, half will increase it by $2 or more per hour, while one-third will raise it by $3 or more.
When it comes to general compensation trends, wage growth has largely been sluggish post-recession. Yet as hiring demands accelerate, employers will need to offer more competitive salaries and benefits if they want to hire the most sought-after candidates and keep their best workers.
Eighty-two percent of employers plan to increase compensation for existing employees in 2015 – up from 73 percent last year, while 64 percent will offer higher starting salaries for new employees – up from 49 percent in 2014. By putting more in their workers’ pockets now, employers can help their organizations avoid the costs associated with making bad hires or a position staying vacant for an extended period of time.
Employers tightening education requirements
As roles within companies become increasingly complex and data-driven, employers anticipate the need to adjust education requirements for certain positions in order to attract workers with more advanced degrees.
- Twenty-eight percent of companies say they’re now hiring more employees with master’s degrees for positions that historically had been held by workers with four-year degrees.
- Thirty-seven percent are now hiring workers with college degrees for those roles that had been primarily held by employees with high school diplomas.
- Sixty-five percent of these employers attribute this to the skills required for these positions evolving.
Looking back, looking ahead
Over the past several years, the job market has experienced its share of roadblocks on the road to recovery. In 2014, the unemployment rate finally went back to pre-recession numbers, and we saw encouraging hiring activity across categories and industries, including small businesses and hard-hit sectors like manufacturing and construction. Looking forward, job seekers can expect to find a healthier job market ripe with opportunities, setting the stage for a more competitive environment for recruiters.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Matt Ferguson is the CEO of CareerBuilder and co-author of “The Talent Equation: Big Data Lessons for Navigating the Skills Gap and Building a Competitive Workforce.”