The US Unemployment rate was 4.7% in May according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Not taking under-employment or any other factors into mind, the reality is it is HARD for employers to find people. This difficulty is rampant in highly skilled trades like Information Technology, and low -end labor where reports are coming in of unpicked crops from all over the country and in statistics from small and medium businesses. According to economist Torsten Slok, a Princeton PhD and Chief Economist with Deutsche Bank, the average time to fill a job is 31 days. In 2006, it only took 23 days and in 2009 only 15, one-half today’s rate. This despite a plethora of new online tools, job boards, and a growing sophistication about networking amongst job seekers and employers alike. According to the National Federation of Independent Businesses in a survey of small businesses they found that 85% of hiring companies had few or no applicants for positions they were attempting to fill. A full third (33%) of business owners had been unable to fill ANY job in the month before. The staffing industry is impacted by these numbers as well. With more than 6 million jobs available in April of this year (a record) staffing firms in Pennsylvania are struggling to service their clients according to reports from the Philadelphia Federal Reserve. In this climate, one would expect to see wages climb. While there has been some upward trend, hourly wages in Pennsylvania rose 2.5% year over year, those numbers are not dramatic in the face of what is rapidly becoming a labor shortage. Uncertainty about the economy makes employers reluctant to risk significant wage increases and the same uncertainty makes workers in less employed regions willing to risk moving. Given this reality and with most experts seeing this as an ongoing or worsening trend now is the time to a solid experienced recruiter or agency to partner with. Those of us with many years in the business, like Kane Partners, have weathered every economic employment reality. We have large banks or databases of ‘passive candidates’, relationships across the spectrum and the skills to identify good matches and make introductions. It’s incumbent on hiring companies to be flexible and consider flexible hiring arrangements, shortened hiring cycles and creative recruitment and employment scenarios. In an earlier blog, I discussed that companies needed to brand their employment in the same way they brand their products or services. Consider what your corporate culture is. Codify it and seek those who fit your personality. In this market forward thinking companies will adjust wages, consider remote work, even if only part of the work week. Other important factors for job seekers are equity and retirement contributions. Health care costs. Time off. Flex time. Parental leave. Career advancing education and opportunities for growth and change. Time for employers in this region to buckle their seat belts, plan ahead, move fast and remain flexible. Employers who embrace the current market will have the best shot at filling their positions rapidly with the best talent available.