05/27/2021 Jeni Kramer

Job search activity is down, but signs point to a comeback.

Though it seems we have emerged from the worst of the COVID crisis and its devastating job losses, we are still feeling the pandemic’s impact on the labor market in different ways. Recently, we have seen search trends move toward fewer job searches overall. This has created a difficult situation for employers, with higher recruitment costs. Cost per click (CPC) and cost per application (CPA) have been rising dramatically across all occupations, and varying slightly by industry. 

In the midst of vaccine rollouts, reopenings, increased employer demand and more, it is difficult to pinpoint a specific moment or series of events that may have kick-started the rise in recruitment costs. The recruitment industry did, however, start to feel some early ripples of panic as job seeker interest declined drastically in mid March.

From January 1 – March 14, 2021 job searches were down a startling 17.39%. Though a variety of factors were likely at play here, many turned their attention towards stimulus and unemployment benefits to explain the decline; the American Rescue Plan and accompanying stimulus payment were proposed mid January, and signed in early March. Whatever the reason for the downward trend, it does seem things are on an upward trajectory. Since March 14, job searches are up 15.79%. 

Taking a closer look as we approach the halfway point of  2021, we know that vaccinations, warmer weather and more cautious behavior are driving U.S. COVID cases down. At the beginning of May, many states announced plans to end federal unemployment benefits in the coming months. Some Republican state governors are ending the benefit in an attempt to address labor shortages, claiming the enhanced unemployment benefits are keeping people from looking for jobs (though economists have disputed this as a primary factor.)

Amid this shifting climate, you can see the lack of active job seekers driving up the cost per click and cost per application at a dramatic rate. 

With the changes in COVID cases, federal relief policies and the recent upward trends in job search, we do expect an increase of job seekers may be on the horizon. We’ll continue to monitor search, as well as CPC, CPA and other job market data to see how trends progress as we move from spring to summer and beyond.