The long road back to job market recovery after the lows of the Great Recession continues. Through July 2017, unemployment sits at 4.3% -- the lowest rate since May 2001. The employment picture has been on a steady incline for a few years now, but substantial hiring increases began in the summer of 2012.
Five years of consistent growth in the labor market, save fraction-of-a-percent hiccups here and there, pose interesting questions for those seeking career changes.
First, higher employment means fewer applicants searching out of necessity, and more job seekers pursuing better opportunities. What constitutes a better opportunity is entirely subjective; it might mean higher pay for one seeker, or a more challenging field for another.
Second, the reason unemployment is at a 16-year low is because...well, quite simply, the job market hasn't reached the current hiring highs at any point in those same 16 years. In fact, over the last 30 years, unemployment has only been at 4.3% or lower for a stretch from 1998 into the early months of 2001.
These historical benchmarks, coupled with other historic trends -- i.e., hiring slowly as summer transitions to the early portion of fall -- suggests we are headed to a slowed hiring season. For the diligent job seeker, that can be a good thing.
Aggressively search for opportunities now, when competition is historically lower. Openings may or may not be as abundant as in the late spring, when companies focus on summertime hires. But there are likely few candidates competing for opportunities.