If all the “New Year, new you” articles you read around this time of year are any indicator, 2019 will be the perfect time for you to finally qualify for the Olympic weightlifting team, renounce every habit-forming substance from caffeine to gluten, and earn PhDs in six languages.
Building a “new you” seems exhausting. Perhaps that’s why 80 percent of New Year’s resolutions fail by mid-February.
But as the calendar page turns this year, one resolution makes more sense than the rest.
The 2019 job market, in particular, suggests extremely favorable conditions for exploring your career options. General unemployment is already very low, and job offerings are at an all-time high. We can be thankful for that.
But what other favorable trends are here to stay?
Contract labor continues to rise
While the general job market continues its trend toward more work for fewer people, companies everywhere are struggling to fill open positions, providing new opportunities for temporary and contract workers.
What does this mean for you?
With job-hopping after two years of employment now a common method for workers to earn new titles and higher wages, contract work offers the opportunity to improve and diversify your skill set in a shorter time span, making you even more attractive to employers.
And with no shortage of contract positions on the horizon, those on assignment in 2019 can expect even more opportunities heading into 2020.
Highly paid employees are retiring in droves, opening opportunities
Thanks in part to baby boomer retirements, job openings hit an all-time record in July 2018 and have been high ever since. This isn’t exactly fresh news, though — baby boomers age at the exact same rate as everybody else.
What is new, now that boomers are exiting the workforce in huge numbers, is what their departure is doing to the job market. The kinds of jobs boomers are retiring from — high-skilled, high-paying jobs — open new opportunities for everybody else to fill in the leadership vacuum.
Interestingly, these retirements are skewing an important job market indicator: wage growth.
Since many of the highest-paying jobs are becoming vacant, wage number reports make it seem like wages aren’t rising, even though they are — especially on the lower end of the wage scale.
Long story short: If an economic report of “stagnant wage growth” is the reason you’re not exploring the job market in 2019, you may be leaving a better job title, and potentially more money, on the table.
The “talent war” means better training for you
Even though the job market is generally favorable, not everybody is benefitting, because there’s a skills mismatch. It’s harder than ever for companies to find new employees with the background they want, even though a lot of people are still looking for a job.
So while it’s tempting to think of 2019 as a particularly “candidate-driven” job market, “talent-driven” might be a more accurate description.
If you have the right skills and experience — for instance, if you’re an embedded systems engineer — employers are all over you.
If not, that’s OK.
The most in-demand skills are now so scarce that employers are taking training into their own hands. That could be great news for you, since the cost of such training used to come out of the employee’s wallet.
If you do explore the job market in 2019, make sure to inquire about on-the-job training options, and calculate the value of such training in your decision-making process. A little training now can lead to a bigger pay bump later.
Some industries are growing more than others
If all this great news about the 2019 job market doesn’t match your experience, it may be because not all industries and regions are growing at the same rate.
Fortunately, there are some areas that are growing faster than average. Salaries have increased more than the national average for manufacturing, trade and transportation jobs.
With new manufacturing sites being built across America in recent years, and average vacancy rates for industrial real estate now below 4 percent, manufacturers are as invested as ever in employees, especially those with trade skills like welding and mechanical engineering.
Companies near major transportation hubs are also racing to build e-commerce and last mile infrastructure to compete with Amazon and its 50 percent market share of online sales. Speaking of competing with Amazon, the company’s decision to raise its hourly minimum wage to $15 is expected to send ripples throughout the entire warehousing industry — and beyond, while higher-paying warehouse jobs start to peel off retail and restaurant workers.
The healthcare sector is also expecting a huge surge in hiring — 4 million new jobs between 2016 and 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics — as recently retired baby boomers require more health services.
These industry-specific trends combine with broader trends to suggest that 2019 will be a particularly good year to explore the possibility of a career change.
If you took whatever job you could to survive the recession, now is the time to take advantage of the new reality. With more temporary and contract positions, better opportunities for title and wage increases, increasingly advanced on-the-job training and growth concentrated within core industries, 2019 could really be the year for a “new you.”
At least in terms of your career.
But if you want to be a weightlifting, gluten-free, multilingual doctor, shoot for that, too!