What’s going on here? There are more jobs available but at lower pay? That’s what the December jobs report says. The unemployment rate fell to 5.6% from 5.8%, but the average weekly wages dropped during the same period. You would think that an increasing demand for new hires would stimulate higher wages. Think again.
Here’s some interesting information:
• The share of all Americans in the labor force to 62.7%, an historic low
• Unemployment, including part-time workers who want full-time jobs, discouraged workers and the unemployed is 11.2%, not 5.6%
• When gasoline prices increase, it will put more pressure on the income of workers
• Business profits are gaining and will continue until the supply/demand equation gets in balance with talented job seekers: When your skills and experiences are in demand
What should you do? Develop a strategy to optimize your opportunities.
• If you get a promotional or new job offer, negotiate a pay increase of at least 10% if not more. Accepting a lateral move of 5% will put you further behind the pay curve.
• If you’re employed, don’t jump at the first opportunity that comes along. Be selective in both career and compensation steps.
• If you’re unemployed or underemployed, it’s a different story. Try to increase your skills and experience in your chosen field so you become more valuable. Volunteer with a non-profit organization to keep your skill sets sharp and continue a focused job search.
• If you’re terrific at what you do you should be in demand. High performance employees are always the first choice for higher-level jobs.
• On the other hand, if you’re an average or low performance employee, take caution. You may be vulnerable for a lay-off or moved to a part-time position.
• If you don’t receive a higher merit increase than you believe is deserved, talk with management about expanding your responsibilities, developing new skills, taking on a highly visible project, or request another performance review and merit increase in 6 months rather than another full year.
• Whatever you chose to do, continually measure and document the achievements and results of your efforts. If you can increase revenue, decrease cost, improve performance or efficiency, then your value and contributions to business results can be more easily seen and rewarded, both internally or externally.
This is a time for careful strategy selection in pursuing a job search and career direction. Timing and selection is everything. The worst-case scenario is to make a chancy move and fall short. Then your decisions are made for you rather than you calling the shots.
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