Job Seekers Get Picky Despite More Openings and Higher Wages

Photograph by BreizhAtao for Adobe Stock

The job market is in an odd predicament right now. More than 15.7 million jobs are open, and the unemployment rate is dropping quickly. Meanwhile, prospective applicants are getting pickier about which jobs they take up.According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with 161 million people in the workforce, one in ten office seats is now empty. Last month, more than 530,000 new jobs hit the market.According to a recent report from Citigroup, 2024 will see more than 20 million new job openings in the United States. Research also shows average wages are on the rise. Yet despite all that, people are being more selective than ever about what jobs they take up. More and more Americans voluntarily switch jobs, with the quit rate hitting 3.4 percent in September.Why are workers reluctant to fill open jobs?Currently, most workers in the United States want flexible, hybrid, or remote jobs with higher pay. Yet companies still prefer employees who can work on-site. They also look for people with several years’ experience and those who can work weekends and overtime.This creates a stalemate situation, as neither party is willing to sacrifice their preferences for the other.The rise of remote workThe pandemic brought about a massive shift in how people work. As people’s living rooms became their primary workplace, many developed a preference for it. Remote and hybrid work not only allowed employees to do their work but do it on their own time and terms. In past years, some research claimed that employee productivity increases when they work from a home office, but employers still seem to prefer employees who can work in person.Many companies also offer reduced pay for those choosing to work remotely instead of coming into the office, much to the chagrin of prospective employees. So, despite there being several open positions in the market, applicants are increasingly holding out for jobs that will offer them the chance to work remotely while also earning decent money.Artificial intelligence-related fearsThe rise of AI has many pronged implications, such as several tasks and projects becoming automated. This has created a fear of being replaced for employees across industries. As companies continue to invest in AI, applicants and those already in the labor force are choosing to opt for jobs where they are not likely to be replaced.Labor shortage is creating a cycleThe growing number of open jobs is causing a labor shortage, but not because people don’t want to work. More open positions in the market means prospective employees can take their pick of the litter. So, applicants are holding out for positions that will offer them more benefits and more pay. This leaves companies competing with each other to hire suitable talent.Side gigs are growing in popularityForty-four percent of Americans have a side hustle, as a study conducted by Lending Tree late last year found. As the cost of living surges, many Americans resort to hustling on the side to feed their lifestyles.The study also shows a 13 percent rise in people pursuing side hustles since 2020. 62 percent of Gen Zs claim they have other work outside their main job.But while employees want jobs where they can pursue side gigs, whether to battle the rising costs of living or to pursue their dreams, companies are often reluctant to hire applicants who want to run side businesses. Even though studies show that employees are happier and more productive when they pursue the extra work, many bosses are unconvinced and believe that working on the side will make employees less productive at their primary jobs.This leads companies to avoid hiring people who wish to continue working on the side. More and more prospective applicants are, thus, skipping over such companies and looking out for ones that will offer them the flexibility to continue their side work.This article was produced by Joy and Thrill and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.

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