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Navigating this crazy job market, what the experts are saying about what's next

getting hired
Posted at 3:26 PM, Dec 09, 2021

If you are unemployed, recently quit your job, or are looking for something new, now is the time to strike.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported employers posted a near-record 11 million job openings in October. It also said 4.2 million people quit their jobs — just off the September record of 4.4 million.

"Candidates want, as I call it, the glittery, shiny things," said Belinthia Berry, Acting Dean for Workforce Development at St. Petersburg College. "Can I work from home? Can I spend more time with my kids? I want a career that's going to be flexible for me. The pandemic taught us that meaning that you can adjust your job. Do I want to stay on this job? Is the job meeting my needs today? And, so employers have to adjust, adjust to the new norm."

Unemployment claims dropped by 43,000 to 184,000 last week, the lowest since September 1969, the Labor Department said Thursday. The department also said the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more), at 2.2 million, changed little in November but is 1.1 million higher than in February 2020. The long-term unemployed accounted for 32.1 percent of the total unemployed in November.

"Long term unemployment has always been something that's pretty tricky, particularly for job seekers, that have been out of the market for so long, it can be very difficult to get back in," John Flanagan, CEO for CareerSource Tampa Bay, said. "So we work with the long-term unemployed. We have different programs that assist folks that have been disconnected for more than 26 weeks or more."

Flanagan said the good news is the Tampa region continues to be a welcoming place for candidates.

"So there are more people coming to Tampa and more people entering the labor force, which is a great thing for this region," Flanagan said.

Sometimes all the numbers can confuse people. For example, how can there be 11-million job openings and the lowest level of people applying for unemployment?

"Yeah, so you know, interesting, you know, when you talk about numbers that show that appear to be a dichotomy," Flanagan said. "What's the reason for that? And really, it's, you know, it's a great market. If you have an inclination of maybe wanting to try a new career, or it's time to look for a new opportunity, there is probably no better time in modern history than there is right now to be able to do that."

Berry echoes those sentiments. She sees more people leave their corporate lives and launch their ventures.

"A lot of people are going into their own business, entrepreneurship; now, there's so many startups, technology, it's new. And so you have many people who have many skills and talents," Berry said. "You start contracting out; contract yourself out. So that way, you work for yourself and make your own hours. So there are many different ways that people are being very creative in these times."

Where do we go from here?

"And I want to say, buckle up, it's going to be a bumpy ride. Because we may see it get even worse before it even right side up," Berry said.