Why a tight labor market could make it easier for you to get a job

The U.S. labor market is the tightest it’s been in nearly two decades — at 3.7 percent, the national unemployment rate is close to a 50-year low — likely incentivizing companies to loosen job requirements in a boon to those seeking a new position.

For employers, low employment means fewer people are looking for a job; according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the ratio of unemployed people to job openings is less than 1-to-1, compared to a decade ago, when it was 6-to-1.

A new report published by Adecco, the world’s largest human resources provider, found that a slew of companies — 37.3 percent — have lowered their hiring requirements for temporary workers. An additional 14.8 percent plan to loosen those requirements, while another 17.2 percent are considering it.

That’s good news for jobseekers: About 62 percent of employers said they lowered the required years of experience they asked for job applicants, and another 49.7 percent said they reduced the education requirements. About 21 percent of respondents don’t plan to drug test candidates anymore, and 16 percent have halted background checks.

“The takeaway is clear: U.S. companies realize they must adapt in order to source temporary talent in such a candidate-driven market,” the study found.

Although the concern is that lowering application standards could result in a decrease in the quality and potential of candidates, or potentially result in the hiring of someone who could pose a safety threat in the office, the study found the rewards often outweigh the risks.

Still, there are other means for employers to attract new talent, too — like increasing paychecks. August data revealed that over the past year, however, average hourly earnings have risen a modest 3.2 percent to $28.11. While that’s a slight uptick from previous months, it still represents sluggish pay growth.