Job growth slows, but workers with disabilities make noteworthy employment gains
- Job gains in March inched up to 103,000, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported. And for the sixth consecutive month, the unemployment rate remained at 4.1%, accounting for 6.6 million jobless people. The underemployment rate was back to its lowest level since the end of 2006, at 8.0%.
- Researchers at Indeed's Hiring Lab said March's lackluster job growth was likely caused by poor weather conditions and shouldn't be a cause for concern. Although the prime-age employment-population (16 to 64 years) ratio dipped below February's rate to 79.2%, March's rate still was the second highest since 2008.
- Workers with disabilities made significant employment gains, however. According to BLS, the participation rate in the labor force for working-age people with disabilities increased from 28.6% in March 2017 to 31.7% in March 2018. The National Trends in Disability Employment (nTIDE) report, issued by the Kessler Foundation and the University of New Hampshire, Institute on Disability (UNH-IOD), said that the latest jobs numbers marked 24 consecutive months of ongoing employment gains for people with disabilities, outpacing the employment gains of people without disabilities.
One positive outcome of the tight labor market is that recruiters are broadening their pool of applicants to include former employees, women re-entering the workplace after a career hiatus, ex-incarcerates, people with disabilities, contingent workers, older workers and veterans. The job gains of people with disabilities show that employers aren't overlooking this key pool of candidates. According to nTIDE, as hiring increases, it's more important than ever for people with disabilities to prepare for the workplace.
As for the slow growth in jobs, month-to-month calculations might not be enough to create concern. Despite the slow growth, hiring was up in some industries and the labor markets remain tight across the country. Wage growth, also, kicked up somewhat, picking up to 0.3% from 0.1% in February and bringing the year's average increase to 2.7% overall. Experts told Reuters, however, that these small gains could be followed by additional pickup later in the year.
In the aftermath of the tax bill, a number of employers increased wages for their employees. Some retailers and big-name chains have also upped their benefits offerings to their hourly workers (most recently McDonald's) in order to retain talent in an unforgiving market. Paid parental leave and improved employee education services are popular right now.
- US Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Situation Summary
- Indeed's Hiring Lab March Jobs Report: Keep Calm and This Time, Blame the Weather