Understanding the Current Workforce Landscape: Insights from the February 2021 Labor Market Report


The past 12 months have delivered some of the most challenging and complicated problems of our professional and personal lives. We’ve had to navigate a terrifying, unknown illness that crippled the world and wreaked havoc on the global economy. A remote workforce was thrust upon everyone overnight, causing logistical challenges and management crises – as well as unexpected opportunities for those on the leading edge. (Read more in our “February 2021 Labor Market Report.”)

One of the key positive developments in 2020 was proof that the remote workforce was a viable, highly productive option for many positions across many organizations. As part of this shift, in 2020 we saw an exodus of white-collar, professional workers from many major (high-cost) U.S. cities to either rural locations or cities with lower cost of living. For example, San Francisco, California, saw a 26% reduction in positions filled, whereas Indianapolis, Indiana, saw a 29% increase over the same period:

Not only is a worker’s physical location now open to negotiation, but in many cases even their work hours can be flexible. As a result, employers are starting to evaluate new solutions for attracting talent in markets that are new to them, and leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning to direct source candidates in these markets. The remote workforce has also presented tremendous opportunities for recruiters and staffing agencies to expand their networks and figure out new ways to service their clients.

This new landscape, while ripe with opportunities, is also fraught with risk. As employers are hiring remote employees globally, trying to find new skills (to support remote work, digitization, etc.), looking for scarce skills (see: nursing!), and even pushing to drive more diverse candidate hiring, there are a lot of ways that worker pay/bill rates can get out of control if unchecked. Market fluctuations at both the pay rate level and the supplier markup level have moved with tremendous velocity as talent supply channels have changed in the past year.

For example, in-demand positions such as nurses have seen average pay rates increase by nearly 30% (and in some cases, much higher), while markups have reduced slightly to offset the increase in pay rates. Conversely, in situations where massive IT talent hit the market through corporate layoffs, we saw supplier markups increase slightly as pay rates came down in some cases. The labor market is a constantly changing organism that needs to be closely monitored in order to take advantage of opportunities.

As organizations look to transform through digitization, D&I initiatives, and expand into new talent markets globally, they need to ensure they’re compliant with organizational policies as well as local laws and regulations around pay equity. They also need to ensure they are paying a market competitive pay rate and supplier markup that aligns with their corporate strategy for talent acquisition. This information is often difficult, if not impossible, to find, organize and distribute to the right users at the time when it will be most impactful to them and the organization. But there are solutions available to address these very concerns, and at PRO, we welcome the chance to discuss them.

To that end, our new “February 2021 Labor Market Report” digs into the some of the key data observations we’re seeing in the labor market as we enter the new year. Download the report for exclusive insights on rate growth by industry sectors and specific roles, how remote workforce strategies are evolving, hiring shifts and trends by location, how contingent workers are ending their assignments, and much more.

2021 is going to be a great year, especially for those companies that have the right technology, service solutions and data insights to take advantage of this new world of work.

If you’re interested in learning more about how PRO is helping organizations implement winning contingent workforce programs globally, please contact a PRO representative at 800.291.1099 or email at info@prounlimited.com.

Disclaimer: The content in this blog post is for informational purposes only and cannot be construed as specific legal advice or as a substitute for legal advice. The blog post reflects the opinion of PRO Unlimited and is not to be construed as legal solutions and positions. Contact an attorney for specific advice and guidance for specific issues or questions.