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Indeed Job Search Survey September 2021: Job Search Stays Stagnant

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Job search was essentially unchanged in September with no progress for the jobless since late May.

Key Points 

  • Active job search didn’t change much from the previous month according to the September 2021 edition of the Indeed Job Search Survey.
  • Notably, the share of jobless respondents who are actively searching for paid work has remained stagnant at 32% since our first survey in June. 
  • The reasons for a lack of urgency among the unemployed have shifted, with more respondents citing an employed spouse or partner and fewer citing COVID-19 fears and UI payments.

Job search didn’t change much from a month earlier, according to the September edition of the Indeed Hiring Lab Job Search Survey. 

The September survey found 28.7% of respondents actively looking for paid employment, up slightly but statistically indistinguishable from 27.9% in August. This share is up from its June level of 24.4%.

Bar chart titled “Active job search didn’t pick up in September.” With a vertical axis ranging from 0% to 80%, Indeed compared the percentage of the population ages 18 to 64 searching for jobs between June, July, August, and September 2021, with different colored sections of the bars representing “actively looking, urgently,” “actively looking, not urgently,” and “passively searching.” As of September 2021, the share of respondents saying they were actively looking for paid work rose slightly to 28.7% from 27.9% in August 2021.

Active job search among the jobless is stagnant

The lack of pickup is more pronounced among jobless respondents. The share of out-of-work respondents who said they are actively looking for work is essentially unchanged since our first survey in late May and early June.

Line chart titled “Active job search among the jobless is stagnant.” With a vertical axis ranging from 10% to 35%, Indeed tracked the percentage of survey respondents actively searching for paid work along a horizontal axis ranging from June to September 2021 with different colored lines representing “employed” and “jobless.” As of September, 2021, 32.1% of jobless respondents were actively searching for paid work, compared with 29.7% in June.

Timing preferences for starting a new job 

The vast majority of active job seekers do want to start a job right away, but there hasn’t been a statistically significant increase in this group since the July edition of our survey.

Bar chart titled “Timing preferences for starting a new job.” With a vertical axis ranging from 0% to 70%, Indeed compared the percentage of active job seekers saying when they would like to start a new job between “immediately,” “within the next 1 to 3 months,” and “within 4 to 12 months” with different colored bars representing June, July, August, and September 2021. As of September 2021, 66.4% of active job seekers wanted to start a job immediately.

Reasons for lack of urgent job search

While there hasn’t been a change in the level of job search, the reasons for a lack of urgent job search among the unemployed have shifted. The most commonly cited reason in September was that the unemployed respondent had an employed spouse. Fears of contracting COVID-19 have receded, with the share of the unemployed citing this reason for a lack of urgency dropping almost 11 percentage points since the June survey. Increased vaccinations since late spring is likely behind this trend.

Bar chart titled “Having an employed spouse is the most commonly cited reason for lack of urgency.” Indeed compared the various reasons reported by the percentage of unemployed workers not searching urgently for a job along a horizontal axis ranging from 0% to 35%, with different colored bars representing June, July, August, and September 2021. As of September 2021, employed partners, financial cushions, and care responsibilities were the top reasons given by unemployed workers not searching urgently for a job.

The Indeed Hiring Lab polled 5,000 people in the US in mid-September, ages 18-64. The surveys have been conducted monthly since late May. The samples include individuals in and out of the labor force, and employed and jobless people.

The Hiring Lab will monitor this trend and others in future installments of the Job Search Survey.

Methodology

This blog post is based on four online surveys of 5,000 US adults ages 18-64. The first survey was conducted May 26-June 3, the second July 12-20, and the third recent August 10-18 and the most recent from September 13 – 29 . Weights were applied to each survey to match respondent distributions across age, educational attainment, race/ethnicity, and sex with the 2020 Current Population Survey’s Annual Social and Economic Supplement. 

Statistically significant differences between the surveys depend upon the exact question and the specific survey wave. For example, between the August and September  surveys, a difference of at least 1.3 percentage points is required for a change in the share of the population that is actively and urgently searching to be statistically significant at the 5% level. A change in the share of active job seekers who want to start a job immediately between the July and September surveys would have to be at least 3.4 percentage points to be statistically significant at that same level.