When Mark Gozzo got a request from a stranger to connect on LinkedIn, he considered it just another chance to expand his professional network. In a month’s time, the invitation had turned into a new job.
“I wasn’t super-actively looking, but somebody happened to reach out to me and I hopped over,” said 24-year-old Gozzo, who cut his commute in half when he started his new position in January at a creative staffing agency in Raleigh, North Carolina. While workers have always recognized the importance of networking, “there are so many outlets to do it these days, more so than a couple generations ago.”
Less competition for work may also give job-hunters a better shot at finding a new position as the economic recovery grinds on. About 2.5 unemployed people were competing for every opening in February, near the lowest level since July 2008 though still up from 1.8 when the recession began in December 2007.
At the same time, the quits rate for private employment, which shows the willingness of non-government workers to leave their jobs, was at 1.9 percent in February, near its highest level since October 2008, Labor Department data show. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen sees the figure as “a sign of the health of the economy,” she said in a March 19 press conference at the conclusion of a two-day Federal Open Market Committee meeting.
“When workers are scared they won’t be able to get other jobs, they show a reduced willingness to quit their jobs,” Yellen said. “Quit rates now are below normal pre-recession levels, but on the other hand, they have come up over time, and so we’ve seen improvement.”
Employers in the U.S. boosted payrolls in March by 192,000 after a 197,000 gain in February that was larger than first estimated, a Labor Department report showed last week. Private employment, which excludes government jobs, surpassed the pre-recession peak for the first time.
A rosier economic outlook may give some employees an impetus to change jobs, especially younger workers who were spooked by the recession and stayed with their companies as opportunities became scarce, according to Harry Holzer, a professor of public policy at Georgetown University and a former chief economist for the U.S. Labor Department.
Because workers experience their largest earnings growth in the first 5 to 10 years of employment, more job-shopping may also mean improved incomes, Holzer said.