How to Read LinkedIn’s New Workforce Report

How to Read LinkedIn’s New Workforce Report

With the goal of helping employees better navigate their careers, LinkedIn recently introduced a monthly workforce report for the United States. Based on an analysis of changes to individual LinkedIn member profiles, the report is intended to help employees understand hiring trends by industry, and the February edition paints a pretty optimistic picture of the overall job market:

Hiring across the U.S. was 11.4% higher in January 2017 than January 2016. Seasonally-adjusted hiring … was 11.8% higher in January than December. Hiring was higher in almost all industries in January 2017 than January 2016 as well, with oil and energy experiencing the highest spike in hiring year-over-year – up 23.3%.

In an uncertain political and economic environment, this data is an important gut check for employees. They may be thinking about making a move, but don’t want to quit prematurely and find themselves in the unenviable position of “last in, first out” in a few months at their new employer if the economy sours.

The one important caveat to keep in mind, however, is that this large increase in hiring is based only on LinkedIn’s dataset. It’s a large database, but there’s self-selection bias involved in people reporting taking new jobs and quitting or losing a current job. (There’s also the question of how well LinkedIn screens out fan pages for famous people, like the 19th century abolitionist Frederick Douglass, who has two pages on the site). So it’s much harder to say whether these strong numbers reflect net new hiring in the labor market (so good news for everyone) or just hiring activity among the same pool of talent that tends to have LinkedIn profiles (so good news for some employees, but not all).

Going straight to the official source and consulting the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were considerably more jobs created in January 2017 compared to January 2016, but the smaller number of new employees in January 2016 came on the heels of very robust job growth in the last quarter of 2015, whereas new job growth at the end of 2016 was softer by comparison. So this may indeed indicate that some hiring at the end of 2016 was pushed into 2017 and may continue to benefit today’s job seekers. It’s important that employees look at multiple sources to gauge the health of the job market, just like they would when making any other sort of major life decision. This is exactly how we advise recruiters and validate trends for them and hiring managers on the other side of the job equation.

That said, CEB’s quarterly data on thousands of employees in the US labor market (which CEB Recruiting Leadership Council members can see here) also directionally corroborates LinkedIn’s findings. In the last quarter of 2016, employee job search activity spiked 7.2 percent compared to summer as US employees’ job perceptions improved significantly in the second half of the year. For those employees concerned about global economic conditions hurting job prospects in the US, we’ve found that globally, employees’ confidence in the business environment and future job opportunities are at their highest levels since 2015.

Read more