Work from home

Remote jobs are in demand, but positions are drying up

Fewer companies are allowing employees to work from home, creating a conflict for some workers and employers.|

Lori Black has been firing off dozens of applications with one goal: to land a work-from-home job.

But four months in, her search is starting to feel impossible. Positions are in short supply, and rejections have been plentiful.

“It’s been very trying, I keep putting the résumé out and, sometimes, I just feel so discouraged,” said Black, 56, who lives near York, Pa. “Now that companies are saying ‘You need to return to work,’ the job market for work-from-home positions has gotten very competitive.”

Nearly three years into a pandemic that reshaped workplace norms and put the balance of power squarely in the hands of employees, the tides are shifting again. The job market – although still hot – is slowing, and many Americans who had been working from home are being called back into the office.

That has led to a tug-of-war between what employees want and what employers are willing to give them. Wage increases are plateauing, signing bonuses are cooling off and fewer companies are allowing people to work from home than they did even a few months ago.

Demand for remote jobs remains near all-time highs, even as companies roll back telework positions. Fifty percent of job applications submitted on LinkedIn are for work-from-home positions, which make up just 15 percent of listings, according to a recent report from the jobs site.

“It’s the ‘great remote work mismatch,’ ” said Rand Ghayad, head of economics and global labor markets at LinkedIn, who wrote the recent report. “In the past, labor mismatches have been about skills. Now we’re seeing a different kind of mismatch, where workers are looking for jobs that offer certain attributes – like the ability to work remotely – that employers aren’t willing to offer.”

Although there are nearly two job openings for each applicant when it comes to on-site work, the opposite is true for remote jobs: There are two active applicants for each available work-from-home job on LinkedIn. That means the gap between demand for jobs and supply of workers for on-site positions is four times higher than it is for remote work, according to Ghayad.

Other jobs sites are reporting similar trends. At Indeed, for example, remote-job postings have slowed in recent months, even in tech-heavy areas like software development. Monster.com, meanwhile, saw a 21 percent spike in jobseekers looking for work-from-home positions between September and October, even as postings for remote jobs declined 6 percent.

The scaling back of remote-work policies is among the first and most visible signs of a changing job market. The Federal Reserve has been aggressively raising interest rates in hopes of slowing the economy enough to calm inflation. Although the unemployment rate, at 3.7 percent, remains near historic lows, Fed officials have said they expect that number to tick up to 4.4 percent in the next year, which would translate to more than 1 million lost jobs.

There are signs that it’s becoming harder to land a job. Applicants on LinkedIn are, on average, applying to 22 percent more jobs than they were a year ago, according to a November report from the company.

For now, the share of available remote jobs tends to vary widely by industry. Work-from-home opportunities in sectors such as education, tourism, sports and agriculture have fallen markedly since last year, as schools, gyms and other establishments reopen, according to data from ZipRecruiter. In other areas, such as manufacturing, finance and insurance, remote-job listings have plateaued in recent months, as businesses and employees navigate broader shifts in the economy.

Even so, Julia Pollak, chief economist at ZipRecruiter, said it will be difficult for many employers to achieve pre-pandemic office attendance rates, even if they want to do so.

“I do think it’s hard to put the genie back in the bottle on this one,” she said. “Once you hire a remote employee who lives elsewhere – as many companies have – it’s very hard to insist that people who live near the office come in all the time. In many industries, the kind of longer-term shifts to remote work, accompanied by investments in technology and disinvestments in commercial real estate, are still very much underway.”

The coronavirus pandemic abruptly and dramatically reshaped the workplace in early 2020, forcing millions of Americans to work from home at the flip of a switch. For many, it was the first time they had worked remotely, and they quickly found that telework offered increased flexibility and a healthier work-life balance. Roughly 18 percent of the workforce – or 28 million Americans – worked from home last year, compared with 6 percent before the pandemic, according to Census Bureau data.

Nearly three years into a pandemic that reshaped workplace norms and put the balance of power squarely in the hands of employees, the tides are shifting again. The job market – although still hot – is slowing, and many Americans who had been working from home are being called back into the office.

Source: https://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/news/the-great-mismatch-remote-jobs-are-in-demand-but-positions-are-drying-up/

Donovan Larsen

Donovan is a columnist and associate editor at the Dark News. He has written on everything from the politics to diversity issues in the workplace.

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