Breaking down the monthly BLS job report
Below are the most recent U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports on “The Employment Situation” — the bureau’s term for the monthly jobs report.
Each report provides data on the month prior (September’s report covers August numbers, for example), and numbers are regularly adjusted in future reports. Unadjusted numbers are noted in the text.
3.7% unemployment rate261,000 jobs added
Total nonfarm payroll rose by 261,000 in October, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported — though the unemployment rate rose to 3.7%.
While the report doesn’t necessarily indicate a slowing economy, it may show some cracks, Nick Bunker, head of economic research at the Indeed Hiring Lab, said in a statement.
“The household survey was the more concerning of the two data sources this month. Clearly the rise in the unemployment rate was concerning, but the stark dropoff in the prime-age employment-to-population ratio should raise our concern level,” he said.
The state of the economy — and continued recession fears — may be putting major pressure on talent leaders to make a decision one way or the other regarding growth moving into 2023. “This dichotomy is putting employers and recruiters in a tough position,” Robert Boersma, VP Operations, North America for Talent.com, said in a statement. “Do they continue hiring to make up for the labor shortages of the past couple of years or put it off due to fears of a looming recession in the first half of next year?” But as interest rates rise, job availability will also likely lessen, Boersma said.
Released Nov. 4, 2022
3.5% unemployment rate263,000 jobs added
Total nonfarm payroll rose by 263,000 in September, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the unemployment rate fell slightly to 3.5% — signaling a jobs market that is slowing somewhat but still largely stable, economists told HR Dive.
While there are signs that it is getting harder for unemployed workers to find a job, “the widely-feared spike in layoffs has yet to arrive,” Nick Bunker, head of economic research at the Indeed Hiring Lab, said in a statement; “There might be some turbulence ahead, but the labor market continues to cruise.”
Industries across the board largely gained jobs, but the economy is starting to “become a tale of two job markets,” Julia Pollak, chief economist at ZipRecruiter, said in a statement. Some industries, such as healthcare, food services and recreation, continue to see massive job gains, while others affected by high interest rates and a strong dollar, like finance, construction and advertising, saw cuts, she said.
Released Oct. 7, 2022
3.7% unemployment rate315,000 jobs added
Total nonfarm payroll rose 315,000 in August, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The unemployment rate rose to 3.7%; however, “it was due to more people joining the labor force and looking for work,” AnnElizabeth Konkel, senior economist at Indeed Hiring Lab, said in a statement.
“Today’s report answers the persistent recession question, at least for today: we are not in a recession,” Konkel continued. “The US labor market remains strong with employers adding jobs and labor supply coming back online.”
Companies may be “nervous” to execute large layoffs akin to 2008, Nicola Hancock, managing director – Americas region, at AMS, said in a statement. As the market stands, employers may not be willing to handle the risk inherent to cutting large swaths of their workforce. “That blunt response has been painful to recover from and we’re now seeing much longer term strategies in companies’ workforce planning to avoid the skill shortage and subsequent high cost implications as they rebuild their employee base,” Hancock said.
Released Sept. 2, 2022
3.5% unemployment rate528,000 jobs gained
Total nonfarm payroll rose by 528,000 in July, officially returning the U.S. economy to its pre-pandemic levels, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The unemployment rate dropped slightly to 3.5%.
Amid concerns about potential recession and numerous reports about layoffs, this data reveals that employers are still “hiring in droves,” Nick Bunker, head of economic research at Indeed Hiring Lab, said in a statement.
“Underestimate the US labor market at your own peril,” Bunker said. “Yes, output growth might be slowing and the economic outlook has some clouds on the horizon. But employers are still champing at the bit to hire more workers. That demand may fade, but it’s still red hot right now.”
Workforce participation rate is one stat that remains below its February 2020 value, however. Women, especially, departed the workplace in droves and many have not returned, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Released Aug. 5, 2022
3.6% unemployment rate372,000 jobs added
Private nonfarm payroll rose by 372,000 jobs in June, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The unemployment rate remained at 3.6%.
The labor market is "defying gravity," said Becky Frankiewicz, chief commercial officer, president North America at ManpowerGroup Inc, said in a statement.
"At 3.6 percent, with 372,000 new jobs, unemployment is cruising along near historic lows. In human terms, if we count people vs. percentages, there are 11.3 million jobs chasing just 5.9 million unemployed Americans," she continued. "Hiring confidence remains strong for now as employers navigate tension between two narratives about the economy. Fears of a possible recession stoked by inflation and an aggressive Fed are eclipsed by the simple reality that employers can’t hire fast enough to meet demand. This puts workers in all sectors firmly in the driver’s seat."
Released July 8, 2022
3.6% unemployment rate390,000 jobs added
Private nonfarm payroll rose by 390,000 jobs in May, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The unemployment rate remained at 3.6%.
While this is the lowest increase so far in 2022, other aspects of the economy — including participation rate and employment-to-population ratio — improved, signaling a cooling but still steady job market, Indeed economic research director Nick Bunker said in a statement.
“While more workers are getting jobs, the data show no sign of a pick-up in layoffs,” Bunker said. “The rate at which workers are leaving employment continues to be quite low.”
All told, employers have reasons to be “cautiously optimistic” about the current job market, Richard Wahlquist, president and chief executive officer at American Staffing Association, said in a statement.
Wage growth also began to level off, rising 0.3% in May.
Released June 3, 2022
3.6% unemployment rate428,000 jobs added
April marked another month of strong job growth, with total nonfarm payroll rising by 428,000, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The unemployment rate remained at 3.6%.
Employment groups continue to voice concern about labor shortages, however, as workforce participation is still lower than what it was in February 2020, immediately prior to the pandemic.
“We hear from businesses every day that the worker shortage is their top challenge, and it’s impacting the country’s ability to ease supply chain disruptions, get inflation under control and continue our economic recovery,” Neil Bradley, U.S. Chamber of Commerce executive vice president, chief policy officer and head of strategic advocacy, said in a statement.
The American Staffing Association echoed those concerns, noting that demand continues to outpace supply.
“It’s a workers’ labor market and, more than ever before, employers need to focus on making their organizations more worker-centric,” Richard Wahlquist, president and chief executive officer at the American Staffing Association, said in a statement.
Released May 6, 2022