By: Brandi Britton
The California Employment Development Department announced that the economy added 268,600 jobs over the year, while the unemployment rate dipped down 0.3 percent to reach 9.8 percent in November. Over the year employment growth was reported in professional and business services, educational and health services and leisure and hospitality.
This growth is being reflected in the jobs picture for Los Angeles County as well. Los Angeles County has added 68,100 jobs year-over-year, accounting for nearly 25 percent of all the jobs added to the state. As we examine the numbers, we’re seeing two dual job markets emerge. There is the general unemployment rate which sits at 7.7 percent nationally, and there’s the unemployment rate for college-degreed workers which held in November at 3.8 percent. The labor market for this segment of the workforce remains vital. This is particularly true for in-demand fields that require both a college degree and specialized training, such as information technology (IT), law, accounting and finance, social media, marketing and healthcare.
Employers of all types are finding it challenging to locate skilled professionals who have the requisite skills needed for the positions they’re looking to fill within their organization. According to our Q4 2012 Robert Half Professional Employment Report, more than 60 percent of California executives cited challenges in recruiting skilled talent for the positions they’re looking to fill – particularly in technology and finance.
As the local market continues to improve and skilled candidates become increasingly harder to find, employers are taking proactive steps to retain their valued employees, and make themselves more attractive to potential employees. When employers come across a promising candidate, many are quick to offer higher than average starting salaries and benefits packages to attract professionals with these in-demand skill sets. Robert Half’s 2013 Salary Guide projects that average starting salaries for professionals in the fields of accounting and finance, IT, legal, administrative support, and creative marketing and design will grow an average of 4.7 percent in the greater Los Angeles market. In Los Angeles County specifically, we’re seeing strong demand for staff and tax accountants, executive assistants and human resources assistants and managers across all industries. We’re specifically seeing higher demand for these professionals in the technology, entertainment, financial services and non-profit sectors.
Improving business conditions have helped revitalize the job market in 2012. As we prepare for the year ahead, we anticipate that the current employer-driven job market will shift to a candidate-driven one, giving job seekers the upper hand. As the economy continues to regain its foothold, we anticipate an uptick in hiring as more companies look at ways to market themselves to attract new candidates and retain key members of their team as they position their organization for growth in the coming months.