Security and Cleaning Labor Market Trends Update

Exploring Q4 labor market trends and what they mean for you.

At the cleaning and security industries fall trade shows (the ISSA Show, BSCAI Contracting Success and GSX), TEAM Software shared insight into the labor market and hiring trends for the first half of 2021. While the results were frustrating from a hiring and applicant trend, we couldn’t discuss the positive trends we’ve seen in the second half of the year, specifically Q4, until the data was analyzed. Most of our discussions in 2021 have focused on the lack of applicants in Q1/Q2 and the Great Resignation.

Mark my words — economists will one day debate the crazy labor trends of 2021, but for now, all we can do is take a deep breath and pat ourselves on the back for surviving. Before we get to the positives, let’s get the ugly national picture out of the way. Key numbers:

  1. The number of unemployed persons per job opening is at a record low of 0.7. That’s 0.7 of a person available for every open job.
  2. The national quit rate topped out at 3% in September, but then dropped to 2.8% in October.
  3. The civilian labor force participation rate is 61.8%, 3% lower than pre-pandemic.

Fewer people are in the labor pool, more jobs are available and employees are moving jobs in record numbers.

Applicant Volumes

labor market trends - applicant. volumes

Despite the bleak national numbers, the cleaning industry has seen a solid uptick in applications since the April bottom. October applications mirrored pre-pandemic volume and it’s important to note that traditionally Q4 sees fewer applicants than Q3. November and December were trending lower, but still substantially better volume than the spring. Seasonally speaking, we normally see low volume in December and a pickup in January.

labor market trends - applicant volumesThe security industry also had drops in applicant volume during the spring, but not as drastic as cleaning. April 2021 volume was similar to the prior year which could be a seasonal trend. Overall applicants have recovered to pre-pandemic levels and have been consistent over the past 6 months.

Hiring Trends

labor market trends - hiring trends

Security hiring over the past two years is best described as a roller-coaster. In 2020 we had an initial drop in hiring during the early days of the pandemic, then a rebound through Q3. Things eventually plateaued from November 2020 through February 2021.

Hiring in 2021s Q2 and Q3 was strong with a peak in August. While October and November trended down, the overall numbers were still greater than any number in 2020. Guard hiring is strong.

hiring trends

Cleaning industry hiring has followed the same general path as security; however, hiring numbers have increased substantially month-over-month since 2020. Janitorial hiring is at an all-time high and all signs point to a continuation into 2022. Demand for services continues to grow with new COVID variants and our strong will to return to ‘normal’.

Labor Market Trends Conclusion

It’s not all rainbows and kittens in the cleaning and security labor markets, but we have seen several key metrics improve. More candidates in the pipeline are leading to record hiring levels. Still — even as we see hires grow — leaders express frustration in their ability to meet the demand of services due to an inability to staff, brought on by gaps caused because of labor market trends shortages. Due to the sheer number of open jobs even with higher volume, managers must be less selective with prospective employees.

One important note for recruiting leaders: Make sure your team is acting on all applicants in a timely manner. Data from Kwantek, TEAM’s applicant tracking system and onboarding software, shows about 20% of applicants have no action taken in the first 60 days.

We still hear from applicants who never get a response once they submit their application. This negatively affects your brand image as an employer. Even if you haven’t seen negative effects from this yet, it’s inevitable.

Want more information? Check out our full (and free) labor trends progress report.