Surge in jobless claims and Gen Z job seekers increase hiring optimism

Mathieu Stevenson |
Mathieu Stevenson is the CEO of Snagajob. His first hourly job was as a lifeguard.


Overall, hourly jobs are up 140% compared to pre-pandemic norms, seeing a 14% month-over-month drop, and a 4% year-over-year decline. 

In a telling sign that the US labor market is gradually cooling, first-time jobless claims rose notably during the week ending July 16th. 

Initial jobless claims totaled 251,000, up 7,000 from the previous week (and 11,000 higher than estimates by many leading economists). According to Labor Department data, the 251,000 figure is the highest since mid-November.

What does this mean for businesses hiring? Higher jobless claims generally suggest that firms are laying off workers, which means your pool of candidates should be larger. However, much of these jobless claims remain in the full-time tech sector, which will have a minimum impact for now on the hourly hiring labor market. But we’ll keep a close eye on this trend and report on ramifications in the hourly workplace.

In related news that supports today’s continued challenge in finding hourly workers, a recent CNN article notes that less-and-less job seekers are now choosing part-time work for economic reasons (as opposed to those choosing part-time for flexibility reasons). Part-time workers in the aforementioned category fell to a 20-year low of 3.6 million workers in June. That’s down 25% from pre-pandemic numbers. 

The impact of this worker shortage is having serious consequences for businesses, particularly in the hospitality sector. In a recent article on the work situation in Chicago, competitive businesses are poaching workers一guaranteeing “recruits” that they’ll earn $1,000 a week busing tables. For Chicago hotels and restaurants in dire need of workers to remain open, it’s creating a “survival of the fittest” environment among rivals.

There are bright spots, however, most notably in the dramatic rise of Generation Z workers. With the rallying cry of “teens make the dream,” businesses are finding newfound success in hiring those from 16 to 19 years of age. While the slightly older millennials are focused on college graduation and blossoming professional careers, the Gen Z population has been cooped for two years and they’re ready, willing, and able to work. Today. 

This rapid surge in Generation Z hiring is confirmed in our recent 2022 Summer Hourly Hiring Report, where we survey thousands of hourly workers and found that 87% of teens (and 70% of the overall Gen Z population) are now actively looking for work.

Word to the wise: Gen Z job seekers, like most workers, are in no small part looking for higher wages. If you want to woo them away from their current positions, they are willing to jump ship to a new job with added pay. 

And important to note, changing jobs is the way workers are now getting the highest wage increases. For proof, look no further than recent data from the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. They found that as of June 2022, workers who stayed in their jobs for three months increased their wages by 4.7%. However, those who switched jobs receive a pay raise of 6.7%. According to recent data, that’s the largest gap in 20 years.


All industry data is from 3/2/20-7/26/2022

Here are the latest overall job numbers:

Overall hourly jobs are up 140% compared to pre-pandemic norms, seeing a 14% month-over-month drop, and a 4% year-over-year decline. 

Here are the latest job numbers by industry:

Food & Restaurant jobs are up 16% compared to pre-pandemic norms, seeing a 12% month-over-month drop, and a 20% year-over-year decline.

Hotel & Hospitality jobs are up 1% compared to pre-pandemic norms, seeing a 36% month-over-month drop, and a 59% year-over-year decline.

Healthcare jobs are up 168% compared to pre-pandemic norms, seeing a 9% month-over-month drop, and a 15% year-over-year decline.

Retail jobs are up 44% compared to pre-pandemic norms, seeing no change month-over-month, and a 3% year-over-year decline.

Warehouse & Logistics jobs are up 1077% compared to pre-pandemic norms, seeing a 17% month-over-month drop, and a 66% year-over-year gain.

The bottom line

We’ll continue to be your best resource for hourly job market insights as we collectively navigate towards our new normal and beyond.

Got one minute? Help improve this report. Share your feedback by answering five quick questions.