The State of the US Job Market with Jason DeRise
Jason DeRise, founder of DataChorus and founding member of UBS Evidence Lab, interviewed Jason Saltzman about insights into the health of the US job market via real-time job change data.
Data Score x Live Data Interview: What’s the Health of the US Job Market?
We sat down with Jason DeRise for an interview where we shared what granular, real-time data on employment reveals about underlying trends in the US job market.
Jason DeRise is a seasoned expert in the field of alternative data insights. As one of the first 10 members of UBS Evidence Lab, he was at the forefront of pioneering new ways to generate actionable insights from data. Before that, he successfully built a sell-side equity research franchise based on proprietary data and non-consensus insights. Through his extensive experience as a purchaser and creator of data, he has gained a unique perspective that allows him to collaborate with end-users to generate meaningful insights.
With Jason's incredible experience in the alternative data and data insights fields, we were beyond excited to dig into the nitty gritty on the health of the US job market, including:
- The harsh reality behind the latest BLS and employment numbers
- Continued employment impacts of the tech layoffs from Q4 2022 through Q2 2023
- Ways in which retirement-ready boomers and Gen Z'ers might not be all that different
Starting below, we've "reprinted" the interview between Jason DeRise and our Director of Growth, Jason Saltzman that first featured on DeRise's Data Score newsletter.
Exploring the US Economic Health through the Lens of US Job Market Data
DeRise: The most common question I hear from institutional investors is, “Where are interest rates heading?” The immediate next questions, underneath that big question, are: “When will inflation slow to the Fed’s target rate of 2%?” and “Will the economy be able to avoid a recession despite higher interest rates?” A key input into both of those questions is the health of the job market, which on the one hand is a driver of inflation via wage inflation and on the other hand could determine the ability for consumers to continue to spend, affecting the overall health of the economy.
To help understand the health of the US job market, I’ve asked Live Data Technologies’ Director of Growth, Jason Saltzman, four questions, which he kindly provided the answers to based on his company’s real-time human capital data. Live Data maintains a continuously updated database of the employment status of 90M+ professionals at 4M+ companies and provides data to multiple verticals, including as an alternative data source for investors across VC, PE, quantitative, and fundamental use cases.
Now, let’s dive into the interview and the data.
Are Employment Numbers Too Good to be True?
DeRise: The US government reported that employment numbers remain strong relative to historic levels - What underlying trends do you see in your data that suggest this can continue, or are there signs that suggest future deterioration?
Saltzman: Low unemployment may come at the cost of greater underemployment. Live Data is currently monitoring over 3 million former white-collar workers who are not currently, professionally employed by a company.
On average, almost half of the professionals (those who were working a white-collar job) that were laid off in the last three quarters are still unemployed. This number seemingly flies in the face of the current 20-month low in jobless claims or the 209,000 jobs that were added in June. But, this discrepancy tells us a lot about the jobs that former “white-collar” workers are finding.
To the BLS and other government entities that are tracking labor and employment, “a job is a job”. Many of the people that were let go from their white-collar roles are working non-professional jobs as they continue their search for their next career move. Put differently, these people are likely working jobs to make ends meet rather than professional jobs that match their previous experience.
While it is unclear how this trend will continue (we can report on real-time data, not predict the future… yet), it is clear that the knock-on effects of underemployment are a massive liability for both individuals and institutions. Underemployment will have both short-term and lasting impacts on earnings, savings, and spending for this cohort that had budgeted for a professional salary and has more than likely seen a reduction in income. At the next level up the economic hierarchy, this change in income and spending will have economic implications on tax revenue, real estate values, small businesses, etc.
Taking the extreme example of San Francisco, the widespread tech layoffs and people exodus have created an income and spending vacuum that has bludgeoned the city’s economy to a point where the city is almost unrecognizable compared to the pre-pandemic, boom-time era.
DeRise: That sounds like the underlying trends are not as favorable. Is there any good news?
Saltzman: The good news…
Following the hiring freezes and layoffs of late 2022 and early 2023, new jobs are starting to rebound. In both May and June, the growth rate of new jobs for most functions was above January 2022 levels after an over 12-month slowdown.
With marketing being one of the functions most affected by corporate restructurings, the new job growth in May and June is a strong indicator of the general trajectory of white-collar roles.
DeRise: That’s interesting about the marketing jobs reaccelerating. As a follow-up question, can you talk through how you created the sample of 225,000 new marketing jobs?
Saltzman: Live Data continuously monitors the employment status of 90M+ individuals. This allows us to monitor granular job change events across dimensions including company change, title change, level change, industry change, and function change. To create the sample of 225,000+ new marketing jobs, I took a random sample of our database for people who had a job change into a marketing role (defined at the function level, including sub-functions like demand gen, growth, content, brand, etc.). The job change events included in the sample were both company changes and “same company” title, function, or level changes.
- Example of a new marketing job via company change: Jane was a Marketing Manager at Acme Widgets and is now a Marketing Manager at XYZ Co
- Example of a new marketing job via intra-company job change (promotion): Jamie was the Product Marketing Manager at ABC Co and is now the VP of Marketing at ABC Co
- Example of a new marketing job via intra-company job change (function change): Alex was a Sales Development Rep at Fun, Inc. and is now the Content Marketing Associate at Fun, Inc.
Each of the three examples above is indicative of the types of new marketing jobs that make up our sample. Our sample counted all unique job change events, such that one person could have been represented multiple times if they had multiple job changes during our sample period.
What's Happening with Laid-Off Tech Workers?
DeRise: You mentioned the situation in San Francisco and tech sector layoffs. Across the US, how has the cohort of laid-off tech workers in late 2022 and early 2023 fared in their return to employment?
Saltzman: Almost half of the employees that were laid off from companies of all sizes, stages, and sectors are still struggling to find their next professional role. ~49% of laid-off tech talent remains unemployed and only ~17% have rejoined the tech industry.
The data for tech workers is similar to that of any other industry and matches the re-employment rates for laid-off professionals from both startups and public companies.
Despite the challenges, there are some positive trends emerging. For those who managed to secure employment after being laid off, the majority have found new opportunities at the same or higher level than they were at previously (see: directors are still directors and VPs are still VPs).
Two other positive signals from the data are that unemployed tech employees are showing increasing signs of “betting on themselves”. Tech employees are ~1.5x more likely to join an early-stage startup or to start freelancing than employees from other established industries. In a similar vein, the rate of unemployed tech workers returning to higher education has increased versus previous years, showcasing a growing interest in upskilling or exploring new career paths.
Overall, laid-off tech workers fare decently in their return to employment when compared to those affected in other industries. However, the broader challenges of unemployment and underemployment are still creating massive headwinds for any professionals that were laid off in the last three quarters.
A Tale of Two Generations: End of Career Boomers and Early Career Gen Z'ers
DeRise: The last of the baby boomers are set to retire in the coming years. Has there been a shift in the data on baby boomers remaining in the workforce longer? If so, what kinds of industries are they participating in?
Saltzman: From a sample of just under 1 million retired baby boomers, 2023 appears to be a tipping point for the generation’s remaining workers. Tens of thousands of boomers that remained in the workforce through the end of 2022 are now retiring in droves.
In January 2023, over 2.5x more baby boomers retired versus the 5-year average. The continued surge in retirement over the previous 6 months is indicative of an aging generation that is ready to exit the workforce after weathering the COVID-19 pandemic and the layoffs of late 2022.
Of the millions of baby boomers that remain active in the workforce:
- 25% are in Executive roles (VP or C-team)
- 68% of baby boomers are employed in 25 industries (vs 47% employment across the top 25 industries for other generations)
- Education and healthcare, two of the industries that are the most pro-social, are retaining the highest number of retirement-age boomers
DeRise: As a follow-up question, can you talk about how you created the sample of 200,000 baby boomers who retired for the analysis?
Saltzman: Our sample of 200,000+ retired baby boomers was created using two main criteria:
- Must have a verifiable signal of retirement: Across our dataset, this signal is strongest at the company or title level. People who publicly announce their retirement generally will mark this in their title, company name, or in a public post.
- Must have a strong signal that indicates they are a baby boomer: Across our dataset, this signal is present via first employment date and/or graduation date. For the individuals classified using their first employment date, we included people who had their first professional job between 1965 and 1985. For the individuals classified using graduation dates, we included people who graduated high school between 1964 and 1983 and/or graduated with an undergraduate degree between 1967 and 1987.
Where applicable, we cross-referenced both first employment and graduation signals.
The Class of 2023: The Biggest Shift in Over a Decade
DeRise: What industries are seeing the fastest growth among Gen Z workers who are at the beginning of their careers?
Saltzman: The class of 2023 marks a significant shift in early career preferences. Traditional early career launch pads such as finance, tech, and consulting are failing to attract talent at the same rate. At the same time, early career moves to industries that have more pro-social or more “impactful” work are skyrocketing.
Last year, the post-grad jobs for the class of ’22 looked nearly identical to the previous 10 years — healthcare, finance, tech, and consulting drew the majority of grads. For the first time in almost a decade, there was a major shakeup in the industries attracting the graduating class.
Highlights from a comparison of 200k+ new grads across the last two graduating classes:
- In 2023, 5.26% more new grads started in higher ed, government, or non-profit work versus 2022.
- In 2023, more new grads are choosing grad school or research at an educational institution.
- This year saw a categorical decrease (-7.25%) across new grad hiring in traditional hotbeds including finance, consulting, and tech.
- The healthcare sector continues to attract the most new grads.
DeRise: What is your take on why there is a step change in the industry popularity of new graduates?
Saltzman: With continued socio-political issues and uncertainty around job security in multiple industries, it is no surprise that 2023 may be a tipping point for the industries and career paths attracting young talent. In a similar vein, the class of 2023 is the first class to have gone through the majority of their college career in the pandemic and post-pandemic world, and shifting career preferences may be one of the early indicators of the “long-term effects” of the pandemic.
The “other side of the coin” is that the traditional early career hotbeds were the industries that were most impacted by layoffs and restructurings in the last three quarters. Nearly every major finance, tech, and consulting company went through one or multiple rounds of layoffs and hiring freezes. This means that while many new grads may have been seeking employment in traditional industries, the employment opportunities weren’t there. If the big tech companies, big banks, and major consulting firms that normally account for large percentages of their respective industries’ new grad hiring were still restructuring during recruitment season, many of the talented early-career individuals were likely forced to look elsewhere to secure employment.
Explore the chart below for more data on the jobs that are attracting the class of 2023.
Real-time Job Change Data, Real-time Insights
Real-time job change data is invaluable for understanding the health of the job market and generating insights into employment the individual, company, industry, and economy levels. The insights from real-time job change data are vitally important for anyone seeking to understand the flow of human capital, including:
- Timeliness and accuracy: Real-time job change data provides the most up-to-date and accurate information on hiring trends, layoffs, and other workforce dynamics.
- Tracking economic trends: Job change data can serve as a leading economic indicator, reflecting the current state of the job market and broader economic conditions.
- Understanding company performance: Monitoring job changes within specific companies provides insights into their trajectory.
- Industry analysis: Real-time job change data allows for an in-depth analysis of labor market dynamics in various industries, helping identify which sectors are experiencing growth and which ones are facing challenges.
- Economic forecasting: When combined with other economic indicators, real-time job change data can enhance the accuracy of economic forecasting.
- Data-driven decision-making: Real-time job change data facilitates data-driven decision-making for investors, business leaders, and researchers.
Reach out to get the most up-to-date insights into the health of the job market and human capital movement. To explore the trends at any company, visit our company human capital directory.
Thank you to Jason DeRise
The above interview was the first ever Data Score newsletter interview. We truly enjoyed leveraging our data to answer specific questions that are top of mind for investors and data enthusiasts. We look forward to future Data Score interviews, both our own and those from other data professionals.
To learn more about Jason and DataChorus, you can reach him via LinkedIn or email at email@example.com
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