We’re Expanding Our Team Dedicated to Studying Global Labor Market Trends: Here’s Why

Jed Kolko joins Indeed as chief economist and will head the growing research arm, the Indeed Hiring Lab.

Two and a half years ago, we launched the Indeed Hiring Lab — a global research institute committed to advancing the knowledge of employers and job seekers. Since then, our growing team has shared unique insights on the global labor market to help people get jobs and help employers understand the trends affecting their industries.

Today, Indeed is thrilled to announce that Jed Kolko is joining as Indeed’s full-time chief economist, heading up the Hiring Lab. As chief economist from 2011–2015 at Trulia, the real-estate site, Jed was a leading voice on economic, housing and job trends, uncovering memorable insights from large-scale proprietary and publicly available datasets. He brings a passion for how labor markets intersect with geography and demographics and for how the future of work will evolve. He currently serves as an advisor to the Shift Commission on the Future of Work, Workers and Technology and is a senior fellow at the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at UC Berkeley. Jed previously led research teams at the Public Policy Institute of California and at Forrester Research, and he has a PhD in economics from Harvard with a specialization in urban and labor economics.

Tara Sinclair will continue with Indeed, becoming a senior fellow of the Indeed Hiring Lab, alongside her full-time role as an associate professor of economics and international affairs at The George Washington University. As a senior fellow, Tara will focus on special research projects as well as continue to advise and mentor the growing Hiring Lab team.

We’ll also be expanding our international research team, starting with the addition of economist focused on the Asia-Pacific region and economists in Germany and France.

Our growth will enable us to build on the lessons learned in the course of studying job search across the 60+ markets where people use Indeed to hire and get jobs. Here are some of our favorites from the past few years:

1. People are often actively searching for a job, and their search spans many different types of jobs

We may have grown accustomed to it, but online job search is still a relatively new phenomenon. Newer still is the ability to search for jobs from our smartphones — enabling us to keep career planning top of mind, wherever and whenever we decide. The ubiquity of the job search also enables us to imagine ourselves in more types of jobs than ever before.

Our research consistently shows that people are actively thinking about their next job and are rarely passive in this pursuit. 90% of employed adults hired within the past year took an action to find a job within six months prior to being hired. Moreover, on Indeed, more than 80% of people are searching in occupational categories outside their current area of employment, most often searching in the areas of employment where the most opportunities are available — encouraging news for employers who are facing skills gaps and looking to expand their talent pool.

2. Geopolitical events cause large groups of people to change behavior quickly

In the wake of the debt crisis in Greece in 2015, we noticed that job search in the country was down by more than 35% as share of overall traffic on Indeed compared to two years earlier. With the economic situation in Greece shifting fast, people were directing their job searches elsewhere. In the same time period, job search from Greece to other countries increased dramatically.

This year, we saw similar activity around the Brexit vote in the UK. On the day after the vote, when the decision to leave was announced, many people in the UK began looking for jobs in the EU and elsewhere abroad.

These two cases indicate that geopolitical changes can shock people into action — prompting large numbers to look for work in a location that they see as preferable.

Watch Indeed economists Tara Sinclair and Mariano Mamertino answer Brexit questions live:

3. It’s hard for job seekers to identify market changes while they are occurring

Employers react quickly to market changes but job seekers’ reactions tend to lag. This makes sense: employers are equipped with both data on today’s markets and the latest forecasts of what’s to come, and they can make hiring plans accordingly. People looking for jobs, by contrast, rarely have access to these insights. The oil industry, among other resource dependent markets, is a great example of this paradox.

Our data show that as the price of oil declined over that past two years, job postings in the oil industry fell at a similar rate. But while oil prices and postings took a dive midway through 2014, in wasn’t until January of 2015 that job searches began to fall off.

4. Real-time observations offer a view to the future

Most existing analysis of the labor market is based on historical survey data. Each month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics releases monthly jobs numbers that reflect on the month that’s passed. These figures are based on surveys of employers and job seekers, and the numbers are updated after they are released and new data become available.

This analysis provides an important view of what’s happening in the economy, but it’s no longer the only view we need to rely on. Now, we can watch trends in job postings and job search that give us insights on actions people are taking in the labor market before the hires even occur. These data provide a look ahead to the future of the economy

We’ve been continually surprised by the trove of insights that real-time job search and postings data can offer. The future of labor market analysis will increasingly rely on this kind of information, and we’re excited to be standing at this new frontier.

Big data sometimes creates a maze rather than a map. The mission of the Indeed Hiring Lab has always been to navigate the insights emerging every day from the world’s #1 job site. With Jed’s arrival and the expansion of the Hiring Lab team, we’ll continue to share labor market analysis that best serves job seekers and employers alike.