Thoughts on the Global Economic Outlook and Impacts on Workforce Management


As individual nations and broader regions feel the effects of the Novel Coronavirus on their respective economies, each is experiencing its own set of consequences, unemployment rates, peaks and valleys of workforce supply and demand, and other impacts. This post will examine how economies outside the US are faring and how the radical changes wrought by the pandemic compare to ours here at home.

As contingent workforce management professionals are quite aware, the global economy is interconnected and interdependent. Organizations in the West have relied for years on outsourcing of contingent work to lower cost countries. Additionally, the internet has flattened the global workforce environment by enabling organizations to source talent in any geography where the best resources may be pooled. So, it is not surprising that the global pandemic rankles the pipeline of talent to a significant degree.

Depending on the underlying fundamentals of the economies in each country, there are clear examples of both strength and weakness on display in recent news emanating from disparate locales. For example, India, long recognized as a leading source of offshore talent serving US and EU organizations, seems to be faring poorly. Genius Consultants, an HR and staffing solutions company headquartered in India suggests India may lose more than 130 million jobs due to the pandemic. This is echoed by a Business Standard report citing data from the LinkedIn Workforce Confidence Index revealing 40% of professionals in India expect dramatic decreases in scheduled job interviews in the coming weeks.

Not all gloomy news out of India however. Publicly traded Indian IT Staffing MSP, Trigyn Technologies Ltd. told the National Stock Exchange of India that no pending information or announcements were expected to impact its stock price. With the steep growth in work from home activity across many industries, it would make sense that firms focused on IT services would see increased demand.

The state of affairs in Australian economic markets reflects similar dynamics with a reported 40% increase in new job listings in May compared to April. That would be a bullish indicator if the strong month over month growth was not set against the backdrop of employment rates down a whopping 53% year over year. Yet, Australian staffing company, LiveHire Ltd. reported inking a direct-sourcing engagement with American retail industry staffing firm, Set and Service Resources to hire workers for a large US retailer.

Asian economic powerhouses like Hong Kong and Malaysia are both reporting serious, negative employment data. The former has logged a fifteen year high in new unemployment rates while the latter reports a thirty-year high for unemployment. However, other Asian governments are a bit more sanguine about the near term. The Philippines government says they expect a resurgence in BPO activity. Singapore ranks number one for the second consecutive year on the list for the most competitive economies in the world, according to the IMD World Competitiveness Rankings.

Comparing all of this to the broad trend data concerning the US economy paints a similarly conflicted picture. Furloughed workers adding to employment numbers eclipsing those during the Great Depression are beginning to return to work as states slowly reopen. This is modest help in lowering the unemployment figures in the US. Yet economist warn that core unemployment is still rising as full time jobs continue to be shed by organizations of all sizes.

There is no easy way to predict how much better or worse the global economy will fare as COVID-19 continues its spread. One thing is certain though: there will be organizations whose labor needs will shoot upward as others will plummet. All of which underscores the need for expert guidance in labor and workforce management.

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