A Tight Labor Market Means It’s Time to Get Creative About Hiring and Retention

woman working at a computer in a city office.

November numbers reveal the tight labor market continues, with only 3.7% of people in the U.S. unemployed. That means scoring the right talent/job fit is getting increasingly difficult. Keeping them will require even more creativity, says Brian Miller, CEO of Patrice & Associates Staffing & Recruiting.


The pace of hiring may have slowed down a bit over the course of the last few months, and employment stabilized (it had to come sometime), but that doesn’t mean that filling the positions or retaining the best employers has gotten any easier for U.S. businesses.

CCG:    If fewer companies have jobs to fill, why is the work of hiring still difficult?

Miller: The answer is multi-faceted and includes such variables as location, industry, hiring managers’ ability to get the job done, and even culture. Putting all that aside, the biggest reason so many companies continue to turn to staffing companies for help is that there just are not enough people out looking for jobs. For almost two years now—22 months to be exact—unemployment is under 4%. As we can attest at Patrice & Associates, we continue to have a huge pool of job openings that keep our franchisees very busy. In fact, more than our franchise owners can handle. That’s why we are aggressively looking for new franchise owners who want to get into the recruiting business and work for themselves but not by themselves.

CCG:    It’s been months, a year, or longer, and the recession everyone has been dreading has not arrived. Do you think it is still a matter of time?

Miller: To affirm your hunch with an anecdote, one of our franchisees said when talking about his business, “No recession here! We’re still doing what we do, which is help our clients find or, in today’s market, hire away, top candidates from companies with weaker cultures and fewer career advancement opportunities. That has not slowed down significantly.” Part of the reason is that companies still need great people. It’s a reshuffling of talent in an economy that is still growing. Instead of some people having no seats, we have empty seats when the music stops. As long as there’s growth, there’s a need for people to manage it. That’s been our experience. We hire managerial level and above. Our franchise owners and recruiters may have to make a few more phone calls to find the right candidates, but there’s no shortage of jobs to work as a Patrice & Associates franchise owner. Will we enter a recession? It’s impossible to know, but if we do, it won’t be because of the current fundamentals.

CCG:    A soft landing then, and a return to lowering, rather than rising, interest rates?

Miller: I agree with what Andrew Hunter, deputy chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics, wrote in his report, “The muted rise in real consumption and further decline in core PCE (Personal Consumption Expenditures) inflation in October will reinforce the growing belief in markets that interest rate cuts are on the horizon.” Muted in this context means that prices may still be rising but at a slower rate, signaling inflation is cooling off. That’s the scenario we need for interest rate cuts. Let’s hope it lasts.

CCG:    What other trends are your franchise owners and you seeing?

Miller: One of the biggest trends is that hiring companies are being more selective than they have been in recent years. Most industries, including Food & Beverage, have regained jobs lost during the pandemic. The hiring frenzy is past. Now, companies expect candidates to meet the skill requirements for the job. The candidates who have those skills get the jobs. It’s less about filling seats and doing the time-intensive work of teaching. The work is on the front end—finding qualified people, and that’s why our franchise owners are busy.

CCG:    Let’s talk longer term. Going forward, is hiring and staffing going to get any easier?

Miller: My take is that companies will find it increasingly difficult to source and hire top talent on their own. Even with help from our franchise owners, the task isn’t going to get any easier, primarily because of the demographic makeup of the U.S. and the labor force participation rate. They add up to talent being the barrier to growth. Even Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said that economists are eating their words predicting high U.S. employment.  While we understand that the U.S. economy can always twist and turn, it looks like the tighter labor market is here to stay.

CCG:    What are the numbers that support that observation?

Miller:  One astounding statistic from the World Health Organization is that between 2015 and 2050, the proportion of the world’s population over 60 will nearly double from 12% to 22%. That means that nearly a quarter of the people in the world will be at retirement age. We have an aging world population. Another factor, as John Robertson of the Atlanta Fed pointed out, is that the working age has hardly changed over the years—you start working maybe at age 16 and retire at 65. When there are fewer people coming into the workforce and more people going out, you can’t help but have a worker deficit. Especially when innovation and business opportunities are so abundant, and the demand for workers is increasing.

CCG:    It seems like a good era to be in the staffing business—you’ve never been more needed—but it’s going to be rough for businesses in general. So what are companies to do?

Miller: Companies, starting today, in my opinion, need to reassess how they will fill their labor shortages and bridge the talent and skill divide. They will need to successfully encourage older workers to remain active and employed. That’s the short-term Band-Aid. Long-term, it will take more creative solutions. Here are a few: Companies will need to incentivize top talent to postpone retirement, a complete one-eighty from the early retirement incentives of past eras. They will need to offer part-time or more flexible schedules to retain talented staff. Patrice is working with clients continually on this more consultative approach to Human Resources management. I believe that part of our business and its role the success equation will continue to grow.


Duke Witte absolutely was amazing! 

I am writing to express my sincere gratitude to Duke Witte for his assistance in finding me a new job in the hospitality industry. I was disgruntled with my previous job, and I was feeling very discouraged about my prospects. I had been working in the restaurant industry for many years, and I had a lot of experience and skills, but I was having a hard time finding a better opportunity.

I was contacted via LinkedIn by Duke, and thank goodness I was.  Mr. Witte was incredibly helpful and supportive throughout the entire process. He took the time to understand my skills and experience, and worked tirelessly to find me a job that was a good fit.

Duke was also very honest and upfront with me about the job market. He didn't sugarcoat things, but also didn't give up on me. He kept me motivated and encouraged, and never gave up on finding me a job that I would love.

I am so grateful to Duke Witte and his team for their help. I am now happily employed, and I am so happy that I was able to find a job that I love. I would highly recommend him to anyone who is looking for a job in the restaurant industry. He is a true professional, and is dedicated to helping his clients find the perfect job!

Thank you again for everything!

Nick Grubbs

Working with Chris Bovio made job searching so much easier! 

Not only was he available and involved in my search, but also knowledgeable regarding the position. Chris used his industry experience and recruiting network to find the best position for me and my skill set. My only regret is that my new job is so perfect for me that I won’t need to use Chris or Patrice & Associates later.


Nick Guarino

Michael Greig was absolutely fantastic in every way! 

He gave me options and suggestions & eventually found a great for me. Communication was easy and he went above & beyond. Also, he seems like an all around good dude. Thanks again Michael. Solid work out there. You’re hired :)

Nic Callahan

Bryan Curtis was fantastic to work with!

Bryan was very on top of things throughout my recruiting process to the engineering firm I accepted my position with.  I responded to his LinkedIn posting and heard back from him within 24 hours. He continually spoke with me throughout the process checking in regularly and answering all my questions. Bryan was instrumental in helping me find a great job.



Frank Rondeau was a really big help! 

When it came to helping me find my new job, he knocked it out of the park!  He was very honest and thorough throughout the entire process. We had multiple conversations along the way and he always checked in after interviews. Frank was amazing to work with, and I'm super excited to start my new journey thanks to him.       

Many Thanks,


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