North America – The Keys to US Recovery (2022 North American Outlook) 

I’ve delayed writing the 2022 update for a couple of reasons: waiting for the dust to settle on the global COVID pandemic and lacking time—the recruiting industry is trending at an all-time high, and we have been busy serving clients.  Buoyant growth in our industry is a great problem to have, but one still must wonder: Where is the American economy headed?  It appears the pandemic fallout is mostly behind us, but the lingering effects continue for many businesses with ongoing supply chain disruptions.  War in Ukraine emerged as a global disruptor this year, while inflation is trending to a 40-year high. Sadly, some of the social unrest continues.

Painting with an extremely broad brush, Canada faces similar global geopolitical headwinds along with inflationary problems.  In addition, the country must deal with skilled labour shortages and the need to align with the US and other countries in the emerging Indo-Pacific Partnership. As Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland put it, this is a “pivotal moment” for Canada.  But it appears that in some domains, the country is pivoting in the right direction.      

For the American search industry, 2021 saw record revenues with a 41.9% increase over 2020 numbers, according to the 2022 AESC State of the Profession report. And we are seeing yet another +20% increase in 2022.  So, the industry is thriving primarily due to what has been called the “Great Resignation,” which has created a talent shortage and definitely a “Candidate Drive” market. The business implications are driving investment in talent and culture, ESG, sustainability, technology for remote work and more hybrid working models. Companies embracing the changing landscape of work seem to be thriving, and those who are not, well, are not. 

According to City National Rochdale and their August CNR Speedometer“…the U.S. outlook has brightened considerably amid greater fiscal stimulus, a successful vaccination program and surprisingly limited signs of permanent damage to the economy which should allow for a more durable expansion once the crisis is behind us. With a continued easing of virus-related restrictions and consumers awash with cash, U.S. GDP is expected to surpass pre-pandemic levels as soon as this quarter and is on track to post its strongest annual growth rate in nearly 40 years.” Indeed, this is a positive outlook, but with two straight quarters of negative GDP, I’ll believe it when I see it.  An added reason I’m a believer is based on what I wrote above… a thriving executive search market!  That means companies are investing in people along with capital and infrastructure. I remain optimistic that recovery will continue and that we’ll all be stronger after what we have experienced.