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Job creation has exploded, but many workers are worried

Even with extraordinary hiring levels, the "R" word (recession) is being discussed enough that many workers are worried about the "L" word (layoffs)

DALLAS — After a blockbuster jobs report last month showed a whopping 528,000 hires were made nationally in July, we learned in this month's jobs report that 315,000 jobs were created in August. 

While that latest number beat expectations, it was a considerable slowdown from the blistering pace of hiring. 

The continued strong labor market has calmed talk of a recession, but the possibility still looms in the months ahead when the Federal Reserve is expected to keep moving aggressively to tame inflation by increasing interest rates further to slow the economy down.

Texas in 2022: A lot of quitting… and even more hiring

The monthly totals of Texans who have been quitting their jobs and getting hired for new jobs are still impressive.

Looking at some recent 2022 data, the number of Texans quitting their jobs has gone like this: February: 396,000; March: 439,000; April: 397,000; May: 394,000; and 407,000 in June. 

That’s a lot of job quitting. 

But look at the even larger numbers of new hires for each of those months: February: 663,000; March: 605,000; April: 625,000; May: 648,000; and 568,000 in June.

Worries about layoffs

Workers have been in demand. They’ve had a record number of jobs to choose from and an unusual amount of negotiating power. But all of that can turn on a dime. And some employees are worried that if economic conditions sour in the months ahead, they could lose their jobs.

A survey by Robert Half Talent Solutions says most people (67%) still feel confident about their job prospects, but 29% of workers surveyed are now concerned about being laid off if economic conditions worsen. 

Are you new here?

We don’t know how many of those are relatively new hires, but it would make sense if many of the worriers are recent additions because let’s look at who traditionally gets cut. 

Layoffs are often determined by performance reviews or employee rankings. If you haven’t been working for your employer very long, you might be concerned about whether you have had enough time to shine if you and your more tenured coworkers are reviewed or ranked. 

That brings us right to another way layoffs are determined: Last in, first out — where the most recent hires are the ones who are let go. That might especially be a worry if you came aboard not long ago and the company paid you significantly more to lure you in a competitive job market.

Lots of open positions could give workers (and companies) options if the economy slows significantly

The good news is that – at last count – there were still 988,000 open jobs in Texas. That’s helpful in a couple of ways. If there is a recession, there may be more jobs than usual to jump to if you lose yours. 

Also, it is possible that many employers who have job openings might cut those unfilled positions instead of actual workers. 

Finally, it helps that workers have been so hard to come by for so long  because especially if employers think an economic downturn might be brief, they may be more careful than usual about cutting loose employees who have been so hard to get.

How to protect yourself in case of layoffs

There is a lot of advice out there about what you should do to make yourself more "layoff-proof." This one might not be popular with many people, but if you’re concerned about layoffs and you have been a hybrid or fully remote worker, you might think about ditching the pajama pants and heading back into the office more, if that is an option.  

We have seen over and over that hybrid and remote workers are forgotten, they’re not always given credit for all they accomplish, and they are less likely to be promoted

You might also want to show that you can handle multiple duties. The more useful you are, the harder it is to let you go. 

And this one can be so simple that it is hard: Be cheerful and fun to be around. 

No kidding, this comes from the Harvard Business Review. They cite reporting that the so-called "lovable fool" at work is preferred over the "competent jerk."

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