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If You’re Having A Hard Time Finding A White-Collar Job, Here’s Why

The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits has surged to the highest level in more than eight months. Initial claims for unemployment benefits increased by 22,000 to 231,000 the week ending May 4, up from 209,000, the United States Department of Labor reported Thursday.

The data indicated a higher rate of unemployment for professional and business services workers, while claims for Americans working in manufacturing were down.

The U.S. white-collar job market is currently experiencing a slowdown. Compared to the overall labor market, white-collar workers are seeing a significantly slower growth rate. The U.S. economy added a dismal 175,000 jobs last month, the lowest rate in six months, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Well-paying industries, such as finance, technology and professional services, are being adversely affected, while blue-collar, skilled labor jobs are relatively secure. Notably, not all white-collar jobs are hurting, as there are pockets of needs in various sectors. There is still a high demand for healthcare, government and certain skilled tech professionals, such as AI-related software engineers.

Healthcare And Government Dominate Overall U.S. Job Gains

U.S. job growth is being driven largely by the healthcare and government sectors. Healthcare added 56,000 positions in April, which is in line with its average monthly gain of 63,000 over the past 12 months. Employment surged in ambulatory healthcare services (+33,000), hospitals (+14,000) and nursing and residential care facilities (+9,000).

Government jobs increased by 8,0000 last month. In April, local government employment was unchanged, following a boost of 51,000 in March. Within the past year, the government had added an average of 55,000 jobs per month.

Professional And Technical Services

Nearly 300 tech companies have terminated over 81,000 workers in 2024 so far, after the sector hemorrhaged more than 263,000 positions last year, according to data from Layoffs.fyi.

February of this year recorded the highest rate of job cuts for any February since the financial crisis, research from outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas revealed.

A CompTIA analysis of the BLS data found that tech occupations across various industries fell by 20,000 in April.

Despite major job cuts, the tech sector continues to selectively hire for certain niche white-collar roles that require highly specialized skills that match exact job requirements.

Last month, 179,000 new tech-related job listings were posted. Openings for AI positions or “occupations that require AI skills accounted for 11% of all tech job postings in April,” according to CompTIA, an association that provides information technology certification.

The Concerns Of U.S. Workers

Amid economic uncertainty and the potential for automation and AI taking away jobs, white-collar workers are concerned about holding onto their jobs or trying to find a new opportunity. In a 2023 job market survey by Professional Résumé Writers, nearly half of workers self-reported that they were concerned about losing their employment, with executives exhibiting the most worry (66%).

The power dynamics have shifted in the job market, and now employers have the upper hand. For job switchers, this translates to less bargaining power, meaning companies may lowball you in salary, benefits and perk negotiations.

Upon recent layoff announcements, organizations have seen their share prices appreciate, as investors take it as a sign of the company being fiscally responsible. As a result, employers are kowtowing to shareholders by remaining lean.

Once Memorial Day comes, job seekers can anticipate a summer slowdown, as U.S. hiring historically comes to a screeching halt with human resources, hiring managers and candidates on vacation.

Read More: Forbes