9 Things We Learned about 2019 Employment Trends

From ground-breaking laws to a statistical tide that’s turning toward workers, 2019 has seen significant changes in the job market. Here are nine employment trends we believe are important, with many just now gathering steam as we head into 2020.

employment trends

1. A California-size blow to the gig economy

Beginning Jan. 1 , companies will have to bring independent contractors on as employees in California. That means the workforce will be subject to minimum wage laws and be eligible for overtime pay and workers’ compensation, and employees can unionize.

Companies such as Lyft and Uber continue to fight the law, which they say will increase business costs 20 to 30 percent.

Though it might be premature to call this a trend, a push for California-type laws is spreading. Three other states have already declared ride-hailing workers employees for limited purposes such as unemployment insurance.

2. Pay begins to inch up

Earnings for non-farm private employees already have risen 3.2 percent this year, according to the U.S. Labor Department. Experts expect this to continue into 2020, though think tanks such as the Economic Policy Institute point out that it will take growth of 3.5 to 4 percent before workers have genuinely recovered from the recession.

3. The balance of power shifts toward workers

In June, for the first time in the 18 years that records have been kept, there were more available jobs than unemployed workers in the United States, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What this means for employees: more bargaining power in terms of pay and benefits. Overlooked groups such as military retirees, older job candidates, and those with criminal records could find themselves back in the running for positions.

What this means for companies: they’ll either need to pay more to get and keep talent or commit to training imperfect hires. Increasing automation is another possibility.

4. Flexible arrangements are no longer a frill

More workers are asking for flexible work arrangements such as telecommuting or alternative schedules Many are getting them, too.

According to LinkedIn, the number of job postings on the site that mention flexible arrangements has increased 78 percent over the past two years. With labor market tightened, more companies use flexibility as a recruiting tool.

5. Flexible benefits are big, too

Companies also are beginning to offer a wide array of ala carte benefit options. Everything from financial wellness counseling and physical wellness programs to “paw-ternity” leave for the adoption of a pet is  on the table.

In addition to helping companies remain competitive, offering perks that people actually want also makes sense for today’s increasingly diverse workforce.

6. Healthcare is staying hot

Through August, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports almost 400,000 new jobs this year in health care. Business and professional services continue to trend up, adding an average of 34,000 jobs a month.

Retail jobs continue to fall, though, historically, hiring in that sector increases toward the end of the year.

7. The changing tech landscape

Job applications by mobile app and connecting with candidates through social media both became more common this year. It’s way to streamline hiring and recruiting and to offer with the interface younger members of today’s workforce are used to.

ChatBots coming to an HR department near you? Don’t laugh. It’s the access to quick answers that younger workers want and older ones will grow to appreciate.

8. New ways to manage the workforce

Speaking of technology, as more companies replace full-time employees with temps, they’re looking for different ways to fill what can be an unpredictable demand. Many are adopting freelance management systems that build databases of independent contractors.

9. The widening definition of diversity

Today’s workplace is home to parts of at least four and sometimes five generations, each with its own work style, level of tech awareness, and cultural norms.

It’s a lot to manage, and it’s a lot for workers to handle. It’s important that companies become aware of the generational differences.

This year has seen a shift in bargaining power toward workers, changes in the way technology is used, and more creative approaches to flexible scheduling and benefits. Look for many of those trends to continue well into the new year.

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