Near the end of 2019, no one could have predicted the global upheaval that would kick off the second quarter of 2020 and then last throughout the year. With a pandemic that has not only caused a public health crisis but an economic recession that hit nearly every industry spanning the world, executive search firms across the InterSearch alliance have shown incredible resilience in continuing to place A-level talent in mission-critical roles.
As the United States representatives for InterSearch, Charles Aris team members – alongside many of the country’s economic and business leaders – remain optimistic that next year will see significant growth as key Q4 metrics continue to improve entering 2021.
While this year has largely been difficult for the vast majority of industries, there were a few sectors which generated revenue growth. Consumer packaged goods, distribution and shipping companies, online businesses (especially those servicing consumer staples), personal recreation and home improvement all seemed to avoid becoming a COVID casualty. Even home vacation rentals such as Airbnb have done surprisingly well, as U.S. residents seek ways to safely leave their homes in times of physical distancing. On the other side of the pandemic coin, travel and leisure, luxury items, brick-and-mortar-based retail and the restaurant industry have all been hit hardest.
We expect the drop in demand for the aforementioned struggling industries to continue through at least the first half of 2021, which will unfortunately lead to more businesses permanently closing. On the whole, however, we anticipate a strong growth year if the pandemic can be contained.
Big data, data analytics, customer insights, digital marketing, strategic planning and transformative operational expertise are and will be the hottest areas of talent demand in the States. With consumer data now ubiquitous in the marketplace, companies need to better harness that data to make important strategic decisions – so they are hiring more data scientists as a result. The trend of companies looking to hone their digital capabilities will continue next year as well.
Where do we expect shortages in 2021? Frontline healthcare workers and logistics and distribution employees are among the first who come to mind. The cause of the spike in healthcare needs is obvious amid a public health crisis in full swing, but that might result in the increase being temporary as we hopefully exit the COVID-19 world sooner rather than later. With logistics and distribution, consumers leaving traditional retail behind for e-commerce solutions have sparked great demand in top talent in those areas. We expect to see a shift of talent in brick-and-mortar retail to e-commerce roles, which unfortunately might pay less.
One factor that gives us optimism that the U.S. economy will have impressive growth in 2021 is that China has rebounded well from the pandemic. Given the fact that China is a major provider of goods to the United States, as long as people are buying, the product is going to be there.
Predicting any year ahead is no easy task, so this obviously comes with the caveat that we don’t know what we don’t know. Based on observing data and trends at our disposal, however, we assert the United States is in good position to have a strong and fruitful economy in 2021.