As discussed in my earlier post, some recruiters and organizations claim a decrease in applications per opening during December. This series examines and analyses the data behind this assumption.
Most recruiters and hiring managers that I surveyed report a decreased amount of general applications and qualified applications during the holiday season. Of course some dissenters think this is an myth. This post follows-up and elaborates on the available data. The third and final post will be an analysis of the data and its implications. At first glance, the data seems to indicate that job web searches certainly do decline during the holidays. Searches for jobs over the past eight years for example declined by nine percent on average during December. In the charts and graphs below, you can clearly see that the biggest declines of the year nearly all come in November and December. Both domestic and international searches for careers and jobs had declines during the holidays.
My first source of interesting data is the Google Trends search index data. I review and analyzed data from searches for careers and jobs between 2004 and 2012. The graph above has the holiday season highlighted. The implication is that there is a very clear decline in job searches during the holiday season. However we also see a huge spike in searches almost like clockwork on January 1st. Most likely the post-holiday layoffs increased the number of job seekers or they are joined by a large chunk of passive job seekers who took a break. One interesting point to mention was that the biggest job search declines in December were during the months of 2007, 2008 and 2009. The only way I could reconcile that fact with economic data is that passive job searchers either gave up or “hunkered down” during the great recession during that time period. With dramatic job losses dramatically reducing job searching, the currently employed would not likely be out searching for a new job. If accurate, this could be a clear indicator that highly qualified applications do indeed decline during the holiday season.
To figure out the labor demand, you have to look at whether there are more or less jobs or jobs added in December than the rest of the year or look at unemployment. In Oregon for example, far more jobs are created during December than other months. This is one of the reasons economists seasonally adjust data. Since 1990 in Oregon for example, December had on average nearly 23,000 more jobs than the average of other months. Holiday related hiring is an obvious explanation for this. Returning to the matter at hand, this data does indicate that there is higher demand for workers in December on average. The unemployment rate is generally down in that month and job searches sharply decline. So far the data does seem to corroborate the idea that business do indeed receive fewer applications per opening in December due to a decreased supply of applicants and an increased demand from employers.
My final post on this series, will involve a regression analysis comparing the Google Search Index data with assorted economic data for a possible correlation and conclusion.