From immigration patterns to the impacts of AI, here’s what you need to know in 2024.

Key Takeaways

  • Global labor markets are still tight, but they’re beginning to ease as the post-pandemic hiring frenzy slows down. 
  • Demographic trends continue to shape local economies, from high influxes of immigrants in Australia and Canada to a hard-to-maintain working population in Germany.
  • Wages are important to job seekers, but factors such as flexibility, culture, upskilling and pay transparency are also in demand.
  • Signs of AI disruption are emerging worldwide, bringing new challenges for HR leaders, but also surprising new opportunities.

The year 2023 was one of change in global labor markets, as hybrid remote work became the new normal and generative AI blazed onto the scene, forcing us to rethink what the role of human labor really is. 
Indeed Hiring Lab, Indeed’s economic research arm, studies trends in the global labor market by analyzing millions of data points across Indeed’s site, including job postings, resumes and user behavior. Hiring Lab economists around the world analyze and report on global labor market conditions, including hiring and salary trends, in-demand skills and popular employer benefits. 

We spoke to seven Hiring Lab economists about what’s happening in their regions to find out: What does 2024 have in store for employers and job seekers? 

Professional headshot of Nick Bunker, Indeed Hiring Lab Economic Research Director for North America. He has short brown hair, a beard and is wearing a white button up and pink tie.

In the U.S.: Employers Should Widen the Lens on Talent

Nick Bunker, Economic Research Director for North America

The Situation: Last year, many economists thought a recession in the U.S. was a certainty — it was only a question of when. But it never happened. GDP is up over 5% on an annualized basis, and the unemployment rate is below 4%, which is low by historical standards. And while job postings have fallen by Indeed’s measure, they’re still up 26% from pre-pandemic levels. It’s a really resilient labor market. 

It’s too soon to tell how AI will affect jobs across industries, but our research shows that the sector with the highest exposure to generative AI is software development. You no longer need to know how to write code, because ChatGPT can do it for you. For a long time, there was this idea that anyone who was worried about their skills becoming obsolete should learn to code. Now, AI can do the coding, and it’s the software development jobs that are at risk.

The Takeaway: The U.S. labor market is less constrained than it was in 2023, but it’s still very competitive. In this environment, employers should widen the range of people they’re considering for open roles. For example, one of the great stories of 2023 was historic growth in participation rates for people with disabilities. That is due, in part, to remote work, which makes jobs much easier for people who need accommodations. That’s a lesson for employers writ large: There are people out there who can do the work but might not be in your traditional candidate pools. 

Professional headshot of Jack Kennedy, Indeed Hiring Lab Senior Economist focused on the U.K./Ireland labor market. He is standing with his arms crossed in front of a collage of yellow and blue shapes.

In the U.K.: Prepare Workers for AI-Related Disruption

Jack Kennedy, Indeed Hiring Lab Senior Economist focused on the U.K./Ireland labor market

The Situation: In the U.K., we are starting to see some disruption related to AI, but a lot of organizations are still just trying to figure out how best to implement and integrate AI into their operations. We expect to see much more of AI’s impact in 2024 and beyond. We’ve already heard of some organizations pausing hiring for some types of jobs, like customer support roles, because they plan to replace those roles with AI tools. At the same time, there has been explosive growth in the number of job postings specifically involved in creating generative AI tools. As of now, it’s still a very small share of the labor market overall — less than 0.1% of all job postings on Indeed — but that number was essentially zero at the start of 2023. It won’t be long before GenAI roles represent a significantly larger share of jobs.

Workers need to be better prepared for a period of quite rapid and profound change in the labor market.

Jack Kennedy, Indeed Hiring Lab Senior Economist

The Takeaway: As AI is increasingly integrated into mainstream business operations in the U.K., we’re likely to see a lot of disruption, but also a lot of opportunities. In addition to more jobs that involve creating AI tools, we’ll see the creation of entirely new types of roles that harness this technology’s potential. Workers need to be better prepared for a period of quite rapid and profound change in the labor market. For employers, offering retraining and upskilling opportunities, particularly in the digital space, will be key to helping workers navigate that transition.

Professional headshot of Dr. Annina Hering, Indeed Hiring Lab Senior Economist focused on the German labor market. She has long brown hair, blue eyes and is smiling in front of a blue and orange collage of shapes.

In Germany: AI Could Ease Labor Shortages

Dr. Annina Hering, Indeed Hiring Lab Senior Economist focused on the German labor market

The Situation: The economic climate in Germany was very difficult throughout 2023, and economic forecasts for 2024 predict low GDP growth. It’s an uncertain economy, and there has been a labor shortage for many years as a result of demographic change. Baby boomers are leaving the labor market, and there aren’t enough younger people moving in to fill these vacant jobs. And there’s a trend of people leaving the labor market before they hit retirement age. 

On top of that, it’s hard to keep the labor force constant. Immigration offers one solution, but Germany needs migration of 1.5 million people every year to reach a net migration of 400,000 people annually. Attracting international workers is key, but it’s a huge challenge for employers, particularly because of the language barrier. That’s likely to continue to be an issue over the next five years.

The Takeaway: AI could provide a potential solution to Germany’s shortage of skilled workers. If generative AI can augment or automate some roles and tasks, employers can accomplish more with a smaller workforce. Given how many open jobs there are in Germany, AI could have a transformational impact on the labor market here.

A professional headshot of Callam Pickering, Indeed Hiring Lab Senior Economist focused on Australia. He has dark hair and is wearing a blue button up shirt.

In Australia: Maintain Hybrid Work Flexibility to Attract Talent

Callam Pickering, Indeed Hiring Lab Senior Economist focused on Australia

The Situation: AI’s impact has been relatively minor in Australia. In fact, we’ve actually seen a reduced demand for workers in the AI space, with job postings that mention AI dropping to around 2.3% of all posts, from a peak of 3.7%. That’s reflective of the fact that tech hasn’t been a strong sector in Australia over the past year. But over the next few years, we expect AI to be an area of growth.

Although the tech sector has struggled, the overall labor market in Australia is extremely competitive. By the end of 2023, job postings on Indeed were up 84% from pre-pandemic levels, well above the U.S. (about 26%) and the U.K. (about 8%). At the same time, Australia’s population of people aged 15 and over has increased by 3% over the past year. That’s the biggest increase we’ve seen in at least 45 years, and well above the U.S., the U.K. and Canada. It partly reflects people returning to Australia after the pandemic, but also decisions to increase immigration to address widespread skill shortages, which made recruitment very challenging. 

The Takeaway: Even with the influx of working-age immigrants, the Australian labor market is as tight as it’s ever been over the past half century. Employers need to bear that in mind to attract and retain talent. We’ve seen quite a few businesses getting rid of remote work because they don’t want to deal with it anymore, and that’s a mistake. Businesses that have four- or five-day-a-week in-office mandates are potentially putting themselves at a distinct disadvantage in a competitive market for talent. 

Professional headshot of Alexandre Judes, Indeed Hiring Lab Economist focused on France. He has short dark hair and is wearing a light colored button up shirt. The background behind him is a collage of blue and purple shapes.

In France: AI Can Address Productivity Problems

Alexandre Judes, Indeed Hiring Lab Economist focused on France

The Situation: Coming out of the pandemic, we created 1.2 million jobs in France. There are 6% more jobs in the French private sector today than there were at the end of 2019. And yet, overall output has only increased by 1.7%. That’s one of the biggest drops in labor productivity among industrialized countries. One reason for the dip is that approximately one-third of those newly created jobs went to apprentices, who need to be trained before they reach the level of productivity of the average worker. 

This year will likely be a pivotal year for the French labor market. The government will aim to continue reducing unemployment, particularly by implementing reforms to encourage work. Businesses will seek to restore their productivity. As for candidates, they remain convinced that the post-COVID era has definitely changed the game in their favor and will stay attentive to their negotiating power. 

All this argues for giving real attention to structural issues such as mobility (providing remote work and housing opportunities) and training (offering apprenticeships and reskilling older workers). Digitization is an important factor as well. Out of all countries we study, France has the fewest job postings that mention AI and AI skills. This is a shame, because AI could actually be a way to restore some of the productivity that we’ve lost. 

(Editor’s note: According to Indeed’s global AI survey, respondents from France are the most fearful of AI at work, with 25% of HR/TA leaders and 30% of job seekers saying they’re concerned about the technology.)

The Takeaway: The dip in productivity in France impacts companies’ margins, which makes it hard to raise wages and attract candidates. At some point, companies will have to restore their margins, so we’ll probably go through a period when employers are doing much less recruiting, and some jobs could be eliminated. But employers should also be considering how AI or new management methods can help increase productivity.

Professional headshot of Yusuke Aoki, Indeed Hiring Lab Economist focused on Japan. He has short dark hair and is wearing a black polo shirt.

In Japan: Job Seekers Demand Specifics

Yusuke Aoki, Indeed Hiring Lab Economist focused on Japan

The Situation: We’ve had a severe labor shortage in Japan for a decade, and it’s still quite hard for companies to fill their labor needs. Last year, we saw an increasing number of workers going abroad, partly because wages have not risen sufficiently in Japan, but more importantly, because the yen has been weakening. This may be temporary, but the labor market in Japan today is more geographically porous than it was in the past, and that trend will likely continue in 2024. Attracting international workers is a key, but in addition to the usual challenges, such as language and geographical factors, there is also the issue that interest in Japan has not increased. This presents an even greater challenge for employers.

Unlike other regions, Japan has a company-based hiring system: Job seekers apply to the company rather than for a specific position, and the company places them according to their staffing needs. But now, the younger generations want to choose their own career paths, and there is a megatrend to align with the global recruitment system. We’re seeing some employers shift to role-specific job descriptions, and we’re updating the Indeed product in Japan to make it easier for employers to share skill requirements.

When it comes to AI, there may be less job disruption in Japan than in the U.S. because of the composition of industries here. Globally, Japan accounts for a large share of manufacturing, retail and medical services, all of which require in-person connection and human judgment, so they’re less likely to be replaced by AI. 

The Takeaway: As more Japanese companies shift to role-specific job descriptions, including details like pay transparency will help them compete for talent. It’s very important to let job seekers know how much a salary can grow in a given job, especially for younger workers. 

Professional headshot of Brendon Bernard, Indeed Hiring Lab Senior Economist focused on Canada. He has short brown hair, blue eyes, is wearing a plaid button up and smiling.

In Canada: Immigration Is Booming

Brendon Bernard, Indeed Hiring Lab Senior Economist focused on Canada

The Situation: The big story in the Canadian labor market has been population growth — the fastest the country has seen in decades. It’s a result of migration from abroad, and this is visible  on Indeed: In the third quarter of 2019, about 6% of Indeed job seeker clicks on Canadian job postings were made by people outside of Canada. In Q3 2023, that share jumped to 14%. The population surge has been driven by people coming to Canada on non-permanent work and study visas, and has likely helped some employers fill job openings. However, weaker demand for workers, along with policy changes, could slow the pace of labor supply growth in 2024. 

Canadian employers might be a little slower than their U.S. counterparts to adopt the new wave of generative AI technology, but that will even out over the medium term, and it will be a source of competition among employers. Those that are most effective at leveraging AI are going to be able to outcompete those who aren’t.

The Takeaway: Canadian employers need to be aware of all the different facets of what makes a position a good job. Pay and benefits are important, but there’s a whole other set of factors that matter, whether that’s stability, flexible scheduling, opportunities for advancement or company culture — these need to be top of mind in the recruitment process as well as day-to-day operations. 

The Top Takeaway Across All Labor Markets: Think Outside the Box

Adaptability and creativity will be critical for successfully attracting and retaining talent in 2024. As hiring gets easier, don’t be tempted to disregard job seekers’ preferences. Understanding what they want is key, so listen to current and prospective employees and think broadly about how you can meet their needs beyond compensation. And while we know that AI is starting to change the game for employers everywhere, we don’t yet know exactly how changes will play out. Keep up with AI trends and technological developments to stay ahead of the competition. 

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