Laid off? Here’s how to find new work faster

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New government data shows a surprisingly strong job market for the month of January.

But there are signs of weakness in the labor market, based on tens of thousands of workers who have been laid off since 2024 started.

U.S. employers announced 82,307 job cuts in January, up from 34,817 in December — a 136% increase, according to outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

Still, that is down 20% from the 102,943 cuts announced in January 2023 and the all-time high for that month in 2009, with 241,749 job losses.

At the same time, the latest data shows the U.S. job market is still strong, with the unemployment rate holding at 3.7%.

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Moreover, the number of job openings stands at 9 million, which is still elevated compared to prior to the pandemic, yet down from a 12 million peak, noted Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst at Bankrate.

“On the one hand, Americans should have a sense that their job security is generally speaking in a good place,” Hamrick said. “At the same time, we have to understand that certain sectors of the economy may be experiencing more disruption or innovation.”

With that innovation comes a higher risk that workers may suffer from an income loss as the economy adjusts, he said.

For example, retail brands may be shedding positions as they continue to transition from brick-and-mortar stores to online sales. Sectors tied to the mortgage industry are repositioning in the wake of higher interest rates. And areas like entertainment and media are adjusting to new online streaming and subscription models.

Why getting a job feels so difficult right now

“There’s still the benefit of the elevated number of job openings,” despite the anecdotal evidence that job cuts are happening, Hamrick said.

And companies that have open positions are scrambling to fill them.

“There are still companies that are hiring, and they can’t find talent fast enough,” said Vicki Salemi, career expert at Monster.

If you’re newly out of work, taking these steps may help you get hired faster.

1. Take a moment to grieve

2. Refine your search strategy

3. Identify the ideal position for you

4. Keep your skills sharp

5. Know your worth

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