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Is an EU recession looming and will it affect recruitment trends?

Contributing Author: Dan McKeown, Managing Partner | Venture Recruitment |IPTER Ireland

As a recruitment professional, based in Ireland and not an economist, let me start by stating….I don’t know?!

Why bother with this piece then?

Well, there is a lot of talk about a recession looming – rising costs of living and costs of doing business and rising ECB borrowing rates being 2 big reasons cited. Add in a “basket case” housing market where availability for renters and buyers has hit another record low, and there is plenty to be potentially worried about.

A friend of mine recently reminded me that the markets are largely driven by consumer sentiment and where the majority are fearful and not spending, the economy normally shrinks. To that end, it feels like we may talk ourselves into a recession.

I do feel there is room to be optimistic though. In Ireland our unemployment is at 4.3% ( just before Christmas 2022) and like many EU countries is inflated by youth unemployment (which here is often explained through high third level educational take-up). This means we are almost at full employment, and any country with that level of employment is in a strong position to fend off recession or swiftly grow back out of a recession.

In recruitment terms it has meant one of the tightest markets for candidates we have seen in 18 years in the profession. This is set to continue this year with passive jobseekers seeking jobs that will provide them with ALL of the main criteria they seek in a new job – remuneration, flexibility, career progression opportunities, the perceived value the company provides, and company culture.

We are not alone either, the EU is in good shape in terms of employment levels, lead by Germany, Holland, Poland, Denmark and Finland. The US beats most with an unemployment level sitting at 3.5% and reducing.

This is good news for all open economies, none more so than Ireland, as one of the “gateway” countries in Europe for US businesses.

There are countries struggling with employment levels worryingly China and India have increasing unemployment levels, but Europe is continuing to grow nonetheless, with 3.3% GDP growth in 2022.

So, as a result of this, we foresee a continuation of tight candidate markets, which can lead to longer recruitment processes and companies having to consider compromising on some of the strict criteria they are attaching to job specifications. A time for experienced recruiters to continue to add value for their clients.

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