Americans are defying the layoff economy, snapping up new jobs faster than ever

August 31, 2022, 6:14 PM UTC
Woman sitting with coworker in office
For some, the time between being laid off and finding a new gig is so short, they don’t even need to file for unemployment at all.
10,000 Hours—Getty Images

Americans out of work are finding jobs faster than ever.

The average unemployed person was jobless for just a little over two months in July, according to the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. A year earlier, it took them three and a half months to find a job. It goes to show: Despite reports that bosses are finally regaining the upper hand, workers are still holding on to their power. 

Grappling with inflation and fears of an impending recession, companies across industries—including Snap Inc., Bed Bath & Beyond, Klarna, and Tesla—have turned to layoffs to stem potential losses. But those job cuts sit amid a labor landscape of contradictions, in which the Great Resignation is still holding tight as sought-after workers continue to curry favor. 

For every unemployed American seeking a job, there are nearly two openings, the Wall Street Journal reported last week. That means laid-off workers have strong odds of getting another job offer—or a handful—in record time. 

Separate data from the Labor Department reveals that applications for unemployment benefits rose in August, after dropping to a 50-year low earlier this year. Continuing claims—the number of people who already filed an initial claim—have also risen, but at a slower rate; a sign that workers are only out of a job for a brief window. 

Some workers never even had to file for unemployment at all because of how quickly a new job materialized. Last month, nearly two in five unemployed workers (37%) reported being out of a job for fewer than five weeks—that’s around double the percentage of workers on long-term unemployment.

The power of a community

Despite what seem to be never-ending layoffs, there were still 11.2 million jobs available in July, beating experts’ expectations. That’s nearly double the 5.67 million workers available that month. The uneven proportion goes a long way in explaining why it’s so easy for the unemployed to get back into the game.

Another potential explanation for the quick turnaround: There’s power in the sheer number of people posting about their bad luck. In the wake of mass layoffs, something of a cottage industry has cropped up on LinkedIn, wherein former employees will advertise their layoffs in long, often emotional posts. Recruiters and professional contacts then flock to their comments and inboxes with referrals or even outright offers. 

“Everyone’s paying attention to what’s happening in the economy right now,” Christine Cruzvergara, chief education strategy officer at career network Handshake told Fortune earlier this summer. “Hiring managers know a potential recession is coming, and people are getting laid off. They understand that; it’s a human thing, and many have been in that boat.”

Consider product manager David Hong, who posted about being laid off from Coinbase on LinkedIn in June and received nearly 6,000 likes—and offers for top-of-the-pile references for gigs at Google, Oracle, and Amazon.

As a laid-off worker who got a new job through Twitter DMs told Fortune. “You’d think strangers wouldn’t care, but they care so much, and they want to help you out,”

Sign up for the Fortune Features email list so you don’t miss our biggest features, exclusive interviews, and investigations.

Read More

Great ResignationCompensationReturn to WorkCareersLaborSuccess Stories