The U.S. economy has seemed like it’s on the brink of a recession for the better part of the past year, and those concerns only intensified in Q1 with headlines about bank failures, tech layoffs, stock market volatility, inflation, and rising interest rates. And yet, despite the recent tumult in industries like banking and tech, the overall labor market continues to be stronger and more resilient than most people realize. Job gains are strong, unemployment is at a record low, and there are nearly two job openings per unemployed person, according to BLS data.
In order to get a better understanding of the current job market, we surveyed nearly 29,000 job seekers from across the U.S. over the past three months. In the age of inflation, how do job seekers value salary relative to other factors? What do they think about recent pay transparency laws and salary ranges in job postings? Are remote and hybrid positions still in high demand on the heels of COVID-19? Have job seekers been using ChatGPT or social media to help with their job searches in 2023? Read on for a detailed breakdown as we dive into these key questions, and more, that are shaping the U.S. job market in Q1 2023.
Lifestyle over pay. Despite sky-high inflation, salary is not the most important factor for most job seekers when picking their next role. Overall, 71% of job seekers say that work-life balance is more important to them than salary, while 80% report that they value job location and convenience over salary.
Pay transparency. 55% of all job seekers (and 64% of Gen Z job seekers) would not apply to a job posting that lacks wage or salary information. In addition, 91% of job seekers say that they are more likely to apply to a job with pay information and 59% believe that employers should be required by law to include salary ranges in their job postings.
Remote work preferences. In Q1, 15% of job seekers report that their ideal position is fully remote, while 15% are looking for a hybrid role and 70% want to work fully in person. Of those who are seeking a remote or hybrid role, 71% think it is harder to find this type of job now than it was last year, and about half (51%) would take a pay cut for one of these jobs.
Four-day work week. When asked about their ideal work schedule, 69% of job seekers still prefer a typical five-day workweek compared to a compressed four-day workweek with 10-hour days (19%). The four-day workweek is more popular among job seekers looking for remote or hybrid roles, with 26% preferring a four-day schedule.
ChatGPT. Only 7% of current job seekers admit to asking ChatGPT, or a similar AI tool, for help during their job search. The most popular use cases for ChatGPT are resume preparation (42% of ChatGPT users), general job search tips (26%), and cover letter drafting (21%). Although still emerging, it’s a strong bet that ChatGPT usage among job seekers will grow over time, as 83% of those who have tried it say that they would recommend it to others looking for help with their job applications.
Social media in job searching. Overall, 38% of job seekers have used social media platforms during their job searches to get advice or learn about new opportunities. Facebook is the most popular social media platform for job searching (53%) — even more so than LinkedIn (40%). Gen Zers are much more likely to have used TikTok (47%) and Instagram (53%) to help with their search, while Gen Xers are the most likely to report using LinkedIn (56%). Baby Boomers and Millennials more commonly use Facebook (59% and 56%, respectively).
The rise of TikTok. One in four Gen Z job seekers report watching job search or career advice content on TikTok. Of these, 23% say that they are more likely to go to TikTok than Google when looking for online help with their job search. Overall, 56% of job seekers who have consumed this type of content on TikTok would recommend it as a useful source for other job seekers.
What Job Seekers Value
Despite efforts by the Federal Reserve to get inflation under control, prices continue to rise. On a year-over-year basis, prices rose by 6.4% in January and 6% in February — lower than the four-decade record of 9.1% set last June but still much higher than the Fed’s annual goal of 2%. High inflation and interest rates are a double whammy to workers, who are paying much more for housing, food, and gas while facing higher mortgage, loan, and credit card interest rates.
Despite the financial strain caused by inflation, our Q1 survey indicates that salary is actually not the most important factor for most job seekers right now when picking their next role. In fact, 71% of job seekers on Joblist say that work-life balance is more important than salary, while 80% report that they value job location and convenience over salary.
The COVID-19 pandemic gave workers the chance to rethink their priorities and reevaluate what they want out of their jobs. As workers pivoted to working from home, many realized that they value flexibility and convenience, while others simply decided that work-life balance is more important. As a result, even as inflation eats away earnings, we find that the majority of job seekers are still not focused on salary maximization.
However, salary does win out over company culture and career growth as deciding factors in the job search. The majority of job seekers (59%) place more importance on salary than company culture when picking a new job, and two-thirds think that salary is more important than career growth.
When comparing across generations, Gen Zers are the most likely to choose salary over company culture (65%) while Baby Boomers are the least likely (51%). Not surprisingly, Baby Boomers are the most likely to choose salary over career growth (84%), while Millennials, who have more working years ahead of them, are nearly evenly split on whether salary or career growth is more important.
A sizable share of job seekers also care about company values, although there are generational differences. In total, 48% of job seekers think it is “very important” that their next company has a mission that aligns with their values and beliefs. Additionally, 51% of job seekers think that it is “very important” that their next company is socially responsible and sustainable, while 50% of job seekers think that it is “very important” that their next company is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace.
Compared to other generations, Gen Xers are the most likely (50%) to think it is “very important” that their next company’s mission aligns with their values. Gen Zers are the least likely (37%) to feel this way, and instead are the most likely (54%) to feel strongly about company social responsibility and sustainability. On the other hand, Gen Xers least commonly (40%) feel this way. DEI in the workplace is most important to Millennials (62%), whereas fewer Gen Xers (41%) say that DEI is important to them.
When asked about their ideal work schedule, the majority of job seekers (69%) still prefer a typical five-day workweek. Despite the importance of work-life balance, just 19% of job seekers prefer a compressed four-day workweek with 10-hour days. Longer work days mean less personal time on workdays, and many companies do not offer this schedule option. However, the four-day workweek is more popular among job seekers looking for remote or hybrid roles, with 26% preferring a four-day schedule. Just 5% of job seekers prefer nights, and another 6% would like some other type of schedule.
Even in a relatively strong job market, some job seekers are struggling to find the right job opportunity. This could be due to various reasons, including a skills mismatch or a lack of desirability for the jobs that are available. In our survey of Joblist job seekers, 35% of job seekers describe their job search urgency as “high.” Another 19% say that their urgency level is “low” and that they are just casually browsing. Finally, 46% report that their job search urgency is “medium” — while they are actively looking, it’s not especially urgent. Looking across generations, Millennials are the most likely to have a high-urgency job search right now, while Baby Boomers are the most likely to say that they are just casually browsing (29%).
Research shows that pay transparency reduces pay inequities across gender, ethnicity, and other dimensions. As a result, recent legislation in several states and cities — including Colorado, Washington, California, and New York City — now requires employers to include salary ranges in their job postings. Even in states without pay transparency laws, employers are following suit in order to stay competitive with companies that are required to post salary ranges.
In our study of Joblist job seekers, we find that job seekers generally support pay transparency even if they themselves don’t feel comfortable discussing pay at work. Nearly half (48%) of job seekers report that they are “not at all” comfortable discussing pay with their coworkers. At the same time, 15% of job seekers say they are “very” comfortable, but this varies across generations. Younger workers tend to be more comfortable discussing pay with their coworkers: 60% of Baby Boomers are “not at all” comfortable compared to just 29% of Gen Zers. Only 10% of Baby Boomers report being very comfortable compared to 21% of Gen Zers and 24% of Millennials.
Additionally, the vast majority of job seekers (80%) would not quit their jobs if they found out that they are being paid less than a coworker at a similar level. But younger job seekers tend to be more reactive to such news: Gen Zers are twice as likely as Baby Boomers to say they would quit (30% compared to 15%).
Our study shows that job seekers tend to believe that it is important for employers to include pay information in their job postings, and most wouldn’t apply to a job without any pay information. Most job seekers (64%) think that it is “important” or “very important” that employers post salary ranges in their job postings, and only 9% think it is not important at all. Higher rates of Gen Xers and Millennials think it’s very important that employers include salary ranges (49% and 46%) compared to fewer Gen Zers and Baby Boomers (41%). Over half of job seekers (55%) say they would not apply to a job posting without any pay range, but rates vary by age. In fact, 64% of Gen Zers would not apply to a posting without pay information compared to 51% of Gen Xers and 52% of Baby Boomers.
We find that pay transparency in job postings can make a substantial impact on the number of applicants for employers. In our study, 91% of job seekers report that they are more likely to apply to a job with pay information. Moreover, over half (55%) of job seekers think that employers who do not include pay ranges in their postings tend to pay less.
Job seekers tend to support pay transparency laws. Overall, 59% think that employers should be required by law to post salary ranges for job openings. Younger job seekers are more likely to believe this, with two-thirds of Gen Zers saying that employers should be required to post salary ranges compared to 55% of Baby Boomers.
Remote & Hybrid Work
Even as the COVID-19 pandemic is winding down, the remote work transformation seems to be here to stay. A substantial share of workers are interested in remote or hybrid positions, and many would even take a pay cut for one of these jobs. However, remote positions may not be as easy to come by as they were last year. Most job seekers who are interested in remote work (71%) think it is harder to find a remote or hybrid position now than it was a year ago, but opinions vary by age — 86% of Gen Zers think it is harder to find a remote job now compared to 58% of Baby Boomers.
In a recent survey, 30% of job seekers said that their ideal work setting is a remote or hybrid job, with an even split of 15% preferring remote and 15% preferring hybrid. Currently, 19% of employed job seekers have remote or hybrid jobs — less than the 30% that would like one.
Preferences for remote and hybrid work vary across generations. Gen Zers tend to prefer in-person jobs (78%) while Millennials are more likely to prefer hybrid or remote positions (42%). Among job seekers who would like a hybrid or remote position, about half (51%) said that they would take a pay cut to have such a job. Gen Zers were less likely to say they would take a pay cut (44%) compared to older generations (55%).
Overall, 70% of current job seekers would ideally like an in-person position. This is a marked increase from the previous few years. In November 2021, only 39% of Joblist survey respondents said they were looking for an in-person job in 2022. A year later, in November 2022, 44% of job seekers on Joblist said that their ideal work setting was in-person. The change in preferences over the last year and a half could reflect a return to normalcy after a multi-year pandemic, as more job seekers than not now prefer a return to in-person roles.
One of the advantages of the remote work lifestyle is the flexibility to choose where to work. Even so, the vast majority of job seekers (88%) who would like hybrid or remote positions prefer to work from home when working remotely. Just 3% of these remote job seekers most like to work in public spaces such as libraries or parks, 2% in coworking spaces, and only 1% in coffee shops. However, there are some slight generational differences — only 5% of Gen Xers prefer to work remotely from public spaces versus 11% of Gen Zers.
While a big advantage of working remotely is flexibility, downsides include a lack of social opportunities and blurred lines between work and home. Coworking offers some variety and separation between work and home for people who feel this way. For companies considering whether providing such spaces is worth the cost, 18% of remote job seekers report that they would use a coworking space “all the time” if it was covered by their employer, and another 60% report they would use such a space either “often” or “sometimes.” Only 11% of remote job seekers say that they would never use a coworking space. Gen Zers are especially amenable to company-provided coworking spaces — 61% assert that they would use a company-provided coworking space “all of the time” or “often.”
ChatGPT, OpenAI’s artificial intelligence chatbot, has garnered an immense amount of attention since its release this past November. It does a remarkable job of engaging in human-like dialogue and has amassed millions of users who have used it for a wide range of tasks.
While ChatGPT has enormous potential as a job search aid, only a small fraction of job seekers in Q1 (7%) report that they have used ChatGPT or a similar AI tool for help with writing job applications. Those job seekers who have used ChatGPT for help in their job searches skew younger. Gen Zers and Millennials are much more likely than Baby Boomers and Gen Xers to have used ChapGPT in their job searches (9% of Gen Zers and 10% of Millennials compared to 6% of Baby Boomers and Gen Xers).
ChatGPT has the ability to write original text, making it an appealing option for job seekers who want to upgrade their job application materials or streamline the process. And in fact, our survey results show that the most popular use case for ChatGPT is resume preparation (42% of ChatGPT users). A sizable fraction of ChatGPT users also report using the chatbot for general job search tips (26%) and cover letter drafting (21%). A smaller share of job seekers reported using ChatGPT for interview prep (12%).
More than one in four job seekers who have used ChatGPT in their job searches rated it as “very helpful,” while another 18% say that it was “not at all helpful.” Despite this divide over ChatGPT’s helpfulness, 83% of ChatGPT users would recommend ChatGPT to others looking for help writing their job applications. ChatGPT’s usage among job seekers will likely grow over time as workers learn of its potential.
In recent years, social media has become an increasingly popular and effective job searching tool. Job seekers use social media for career exploration, networking, and finding job opportunities, among other things. As such, activities that were once limited to LinkedIn have expanded to other social media platforms.
Overall, 38% of job seekers report using social media platforms during their job searches to get advice or learn about new opportunities. Perhaps surprisingly, Facebook is the most popular social media platform for job searching (53% of social media users), even more so than LinkedIn (40%). Less commonly used platforms are Instagram (20%), TikTok (15%), and Twitter (8%). While LinkedIn is likely more popular among professionals, the prominence of Facebook in our survey pool — which includes a wide range of experience levels and income groups — is notable.
Social media preferences also vary widely for job seekers across different generations. Gen Zers are much more likely to have used TikTok (47%) and Instagram (53%) to help with their search, while Gen Xers are the most likely to report using LinkedIn (56%). In contrast, only 19% of Gen Zers report using LinkedIn. Baby Boomers and Millennials more commonly use Facebook (59% and 56%).
During job searches, the most popular use case of social media is to search for job postings (85% of social media users). In addition, one in four job seekers who use social media for job searching report using it to follow companies they are interested in, and one in five uses social media to get career advice or network with people in their field. A slightly smaller share (18%) report using social media to showcase their skills and qualifications.
Given TikTok’s popularity and rise as a search engine, it’s no surprise that it is gaining steam as a job search tool. Overall, slightly more than one-fifth of job seekers who have used social media in their job searches report watching job search or career-related content on TikTok. Younger job seekers are much more likely to use TikTok than older job seekers, with 60% of Gen Zers (who use social media for job searching) reporting that they have used TikTok for this purpose.
Among job seekers who use TikTok to job search, 23% say they are more likely to look on TikTok than on Google. Overall, 56% of job seekers who have consumed career content on TikTok would recommend it as a useful source for other job seekers. However, when asked to rate TikTok’s job search helpfulness, job seekers are divided: 29% of job seekers rate it as unhelpful, while 34% rate it as helpful, and 38% are neutral.
Future Outlook on Employment
The job market continued to defy expectations in the first quarter of 2023. Hiring was particularly strong in January, and the unemployment rate hit a 54-year low of 3.4%. Both job growth and wage gains moderated in February, but the job market remained robust.
As the job market cooled slightly in February, the Joblist Job Seeker Confidence Index — our measure of how job seekers feel about the job market each month — dipped before climbing back up in March. However, job seeker confidence is now lower than it was at the end of last year. Recent bank failures, persistent inflation, and rising interest rates could be to blame.
Job seeker expectations changed only slightly over the quarter. In January, 16% of job seekers expected that the job market would get worse in the next month. This fell to 14% in March. At the same time, the share of job seekers who expect the market to improve hovered around 31% throughout the quarter.
Perceptions about the ease of finding a new job worsened from January to February, then improved in March. In January, 27% of job seekers thought it was “easy” or “very easy” to get a new job. This share dropped to 25% in February and then increased to 28% in March. The estimated time to find a new job varied little over the quarter. The vast majority of job seekers (about 80%) think it will take two months or less to find a new position.
In order to combat stubbornly high inflation, the Federal Reserve recently raised the target federal funds rate by another 0.25 percentage points — its ninth increase in just over a year. Rising interest rates have been stoking recession fears for months, and now bank failures are rekindling these worries. The majority of job seekers expect the economy to enter a recession in the next year, with the share of job seekers believing this varying slightly over the quarter, from 70% in January to 65% in February and then back up to 67% in March.
We surveyed 11,196 job seekers about their outlook on the job market and expectations for the future. We also surveyed 2,864 job seekers about pay transparency, 3,703 job seekers about remote & hybrid work topics, 4,388 seekers about their experiences with ChatGPT, and 3,978 job seekers about using social media in their job searching. Finally, we surveyed 2,731 job seekers about the urgency of their job search and what they value in selecting their next job.
All 28,860 survey respondents were Joblist users in the United States. The surveys were conducted over the course of January, February, and March 2023.
This data has not been weighted, and it comes with some limitations. All of the information in this study relies on self-reporting. With self-reporting, respondents may overreport or underreport their answers and feelings to the questions provided.
The Joblist Job Seeker Confidence Index was created from several survey questions: how difficult job seekers perceive the market to be, how long they expect it will take to find a new job, and how optimistic they are about the future of the job market. Survey responses were rescaled and averaged to create a composite index. A Confidence Index of 80 or more would denote a very high degree of confidence, whereas a Confidence Index of 25 or less would denote an extremely low degree of confidence. Job seeker confidence has remained squarely in the middle of these extremes since the beginning of the pandemic.
Fair Use Statement
It’s difficult to predict exactly what the future will hold, but we hope this data helps paint a more vivid representation of the job market in America today. Share these findings with your readers for any noncommercial use by including a link back to this page so they have full access to our methodology and results.
At Joblist, we know every job search is different. Helping you find the right job means surfacing results tailored to your experience, industry, and job priorities. Whether you’re a recent graduate, unemployed, or looking for a remote work opportunity that will let you keep your home office, Joblist will curate personalized matches based on criteria that you define. Even better, you're not alone in the process — Joblist enables you to share the list of jobs you're interested in with your friends, family, and others in your network so that they can also participate in your job search.