by Shannon Cuthrell — March 21, 2022
RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – Job seekers and those contemplating a jump to another company: You may want to act soon because the Triangle’s job market appears to be cooling.
Rising inflation, the expectation of more interest rate increases and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, along with continuing concerns about COVID – a quartet of worries – could be cooling the desire of corporate execs to address job concerns.
Every Sunday, WRAL TechWire tracks the total number of local positions posted on national job boards, then we compare it to the previous week’s count. While the totals have been mixed in recent weeks, the last seven days have recorded a steep drop in the Triangle’s presence on major job sites.
Here’s the bad news:
A comparison of recent numbers also shows signs of a softening job market. The Adzuna and ZipRecruiter numbers are down some 5,000 each from one month ago, although other board numbers are more stable.
“[T]here could still be some ominous news in the latest numbers from the private companies,” N.C. State economist Dr. Mike Walden told WRAL TechWire early Monday.
“Are companies now backing off of some hiring plans due to the uncertainty related to Ukraine? Also, even without the Ukraine impact, the Fed is now beginning a series of interest rate hikes, that could end up with rates several percentage points higher at year’s end,” Walden says. “Such a ‘tightening’ policy will make borrowing for expansionary projects more expensive. It also raises the possibility of a recession sometime this year.”
“Bottom line: Business executives, even in fast growing regions such as the Triangle, may be pausing to access how the economy could be changing,” Walden added.
The jobs report reflects data released Friday from the North Carolina Department of Commerce:
But that report doesn’t necessarily mean bad news, Walden cautioned.
“One technical point to remember is the local job numbers released by Commerce are not seasonally-adjusted,” he said. “The state level numbers are. It is not unusual for the unadjusted job totals to drop in January after the extra people hired during the Christmas season are dismissed.”
Some alarm bells were sounded last week by John Connaughton, professor of financial economics for the Belk College of Business at UNC-Charlotte, who said that that multiple factors were affecting business – inflation, war and COVID.
Connaughton described the Ukraine-Russia conflict as “the great unknown.”
“Prior to the Ukraine invasion, we were looking at potentially a recession in 2023 because there was a belief that the fed was simply not going to get inflation under control soon enough and was going to have to do some serious constraints on monetary policy,” Connaughton said.
COVID and the omicron variant are also still problems in countries like China, which is shutting down cities amid more outbreaks, he added.
Here is a look at the total number of local jobs posted on national job boards compared to last week, as of Sunday afternoon.
Despite week-to-week fluctuations, there are still plenty of opportunities.
Local employers are currently on the hunt for tens of thousands of new workers across the area. Wake County alone has 44,868 job openings, according to labor market data from NCWorks, while Durham County has 18,960 listings, Orange County has 4,619, Johnston County has 2,188 and Chatham County has 728.