5 trends from the December 2020 jobs report

January 12, 2021

Let's dive in to where jobs were lost in December, who was impacted most and hiring tips for 2021 based on these trends.  

Employment by the numbers 

  • Overall unemployment: 6.7% - same as last month, but 140,000 people (all women) lost their jobs in December 
  • Unemployment by demographic groups: 
    • Women – 6.3% 
    • Men – 6.4%  
    • Asian workers – 5.9% 
    • White workers – 6% 
    • Hispanic workers – 9.3% 
    • Black workers – 9.9%  
  • Temporary layoffs increased by 277,000 people in December, bringing the total number to 3 million workers. Pre-pandemic, this number was 0.7 million people. 
  • Permanent job losses declined by 348,000, bringing the number down to 3.4 million workers out of a job. This number was 1.3 million in February 2020. 
  • Employees who worked from home (teleworking): 23.7% of employed workers did so at home or remotely in December, a slight increase from November.  
  • People unable to work due to pandemic: 15.8 million people reported their employer closed or lost business due to the pandemic. This number increase by 1 million from November. 

Hiring outlook for 2021 

Millions of Americans are job hunting this month, making it a critical time to use all the tools available to build a diverse workforce quickly with the right candidates.  

Keep reading for five takeaways from the jobs report, and listen to Bloomberg Radio (at the 18:30 mark) for more insight from CareerBuilder CEO Irina Novoselsky

Trends we believe we’ll see in 2021 include: 

Skills-based hiring. Recruiters will shift focus from previous job titles and experiences to skillsets. This broadening of perspectives, sourcing and job applications will promote diversity and open more doors for the 84% of job seekers who are open to switching industries. Here’s your guide for skills-based hiring 101, and CareerBuilder clients can rely on our AI-powered skills-based matching capabilities to highlight candidates with the right knowledge and background. 

D&I remaining front and center. Diversity and inclusion initiatives are more than just hitting a number or a quota. Employees expect their employer to have a comprehensive diversity program with trainings, philanthropy, time off, and relevant, supportive communications around important observances. Plus, companies are more and more expected to take a stance on social issues and speak out in support. Businesses can no longer expect to remain neutral parties, as more and more workers want to see companies make a difference in society. In line with this shift, we’ll see more appointments of roles like Chief Diversity Officers and stretch goals for workforce and leadership representation. 

Renewed focus on culture. As companies begin to financially recover and adjust to a new normal, they will focus on rebuilding company culture in a remote environment. The upheaval in traditional working has meant that company events, outings, perks, happy hours and casual interactions have become a casualty of the pandemic. The lines between work and life have blurred considerably and many employees are close to burnout. This year, employers should recognize this and begin to implement new culture initiatives that are customized for remote working and promoting mental health.  

Permanent WFH options and hybrid workplaces. The pandemic has proven that workers can be trusted to work remotely and remain productive. Offering more flexible working environments can widen talent pipelines and ensure companies are keeping pace with shifting expectations – for example, CareerBuilder found that 35% of workers would turn down a job offer if it did not allow work from home.  

Prominence of essential workers. Essential workers have (rightfully) received much praise and appreciation during the pandemic, along with increased wages and protections. To make sure you get the right candidates, continue to reward and value hourly workers even as the risk from the pandemic lessens. These workers will demand the respect they deserve and fight for fairer wages moving forward. 

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