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Joe Coombs is Senior Analyst, Workforce Trends and Forecasting for the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). Joe tracks current trends and issues in the labor market including the economy's impact on hiring and recruiting, wages and compensation, retirement benefits and the aging of the work force. In addition to The Jobs Blog, he also writes monthly and bi-annual reports on the labor market using data culled by the research department. Contact him at or on LinkedIn


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Joe Coombs


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Articles by Joe Coombs


HR will be called upon for creative retention strategies      


It may be of little consolation to those who remain out of work, but more people are viewing the U.S. labor market in a positive light. Consider, for example, the plight of “discouraged workers,” who are defined by the federal government as people not looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them.

February 10, 2015


By most accounts, 2014 went down as a successful year for job creation. Problems do remain— millions are still out of work, others are underemployed and middle-class jobs are shrinking—but purely from a numbers standpoint, the labor market grew at a solid pace.

January 13, 2015


 Recent labor market sentiments have frequently mirrored observers’ opinions of the U.S. economy as a whole. Every good report seems to come with a caveat:

We are in the midst of a stretch of job growth not seen since the 1930s, according to federal data. Yet millions of people remain out of work.

December 17, 2014


CHICAGO—Some of the U.S. labor market’s biggest problems, particularly income inequality and a lack of employment opportunities, are long-standing issues—not issues created by the Great Recession, according to experts gathered here for the annual meeting of the National Association for Business Economics (NABE).

Economists, academics and other speakers addressed the challenges facing the unemployed, underemployed and other people struggling to make a living. NABE is a nonprofit trade group based in Washington, D.C.

News Updates
October 7, 2014

For quite some time, contingent staffing was primarily a gap-filler for many employers: Earn a new contract, hire “x” amount of people to do the job and cut the cord when the work was finished.

August 12, 2014

At the midway point of 2014, it is clear that the U.S. labor market has shaken off its winter slowdown. Preliminary data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show that on average, 231,000 jobs were created each month from February to May, compared with an average of 114,000 jobs in December 2013 and January 2014.

News Updates
July 23, 2014

The share of workers aged 55 and older in the U.S. labor force will jump to 25.6 percent in 2022, up from just 11.8 percent in 1992, according to federal data. Some people stay on the job because they are living longer, healthier lives than their predecessors, but many are also unprepared financially to retire and need to keep working. What is the greatest benefit to this trend, and are there any drawbacks?

July 1, 2014

America’s pending retirement crisis—a scenario characterized by millions of workers facing financial shortfalls in their golden years—has gotten the attention of state governments.

June 13, 2014
The argument can be made that, in a period of heightened unemployment, any work is good work. But a new government report on the labor market shows a post-recession prevalence of low-wage, low-skill jobs, and it could present trouble in the future for the U.S. economy. 
May 6, 2014

When she was a high school sophomore in Chicago, Antoinette Leatherberry was recruited for an industry “early identification program” sponsored by a local college.

April 10, 2014

“What, four more years of this?”

March 10, 2014
Recent improvements in the job market have been overshadowed by the fact that millions of Americans remain out of work. Many of them haven’t had a job for months, or perhaps years.
February 18, 2014

Even the most skeptical economic forecasters have to agree that the U.S. labor market has made strides, albeit small ones, in putting more people back to work in 2013.

December 10, 2013

HR professionals no doubt have spent plenty of time managing differences among their companies’ various generations of employees. Now, one consultant says, there’s a new group of workers who deserve immediate attention: Generation Z.

October 7, 2013

You’ve probably heard the stories in the news: Americans aren’t using much vacation time these days, either because of economic concerns or the fact that they’re worried about job security and don’t want to be away from the office for too long.

News Updates
September 9, 2013
Trends data show that as U.S. unemployment rates drop during economic recoveries, wages traditionally increase for the country’s workforce. But many employees are still waiting for a better payday.
August 8, 2013
The labor market has made gradual progress in the past couple of years. When 2012 came to a close, the nation’s unemployment rate stood at 7.8 percent , nearly a full percentage point lower than a year earlier, according to a recent report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The number of “job losers,” or those who were unemployed because they lost their job through layoffs, decreased in 2012 for the third consecutive year, according to BLS.
July 12, 2013
Technology’s impact on the recruiting process is having both positive and negative effects on employers of all sizes. Bob Corlett, president of Olney, Md.-based recruiting firm Staffing Advisors, says subtle changes in job-seeker behavior have left many small businesses in the dust when it comes to catching the eye of top talent.
At the same time, employers large and small are missing out on connecting with qualified candidates by not embracing mobile applications, which are increasingly being used by those on the hunt for new gigs.
June 28, 2013
Millions of goods-producing jobs have been eliminated in the past 20 years, and although the manufacturing industry has bounced back in recent months, the most consistent growth in the labor market has been tied to the service sector for the past several quarters.
June 13, 2013

Millions of goods-producing jobs have been eliminated in the past 20 years, and although the manufacturing industry has bounced back in recent months, the most consistent growth in the labor market has been tied to the service sector for the past several quarters.

May 6, 2013