- Job openings reached a series high of 7.3 million (a 4.7% rate) on December 2018's last business day, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported. However, little change occurred over the month in hires (5.9 million) and job separations (5.5 million). Among separations, quit rates remained at 2.3% and layoffs and discharges at 1.1%. BLS figures include projections on the number and rate of job openings, hires and separations for the nonfarm sector by industry and four geographic regions.
- Job openings in the private sector rose to 198,000 but changed little in government. The largest job increases by industry occurred in construction (+88,000), accommodation and food services (+84,000), and healthcare and social assistance (+79,000). Industries with job opening decreases included nondurable goods manufacturing (-37,000), federal government (-32,000), and real estate and rental and leasing (-31,000).
- The highest total number of hires occurred in retail trade (+126,000), educational services (+19,000), and mining and logging (+9,000), but decreased in information (-22,000) and in the federal government (-10,000).
For employers hoping that the struggle to find the right talent would ease up somewhat, this report shows that markets only continue to tighten; a record number of jobs emerging at the end of 2018 exemplifies that. Hiring top talent is one of HR’s biggest challenges in 2019, and the talent shortage remains a business risk for employers.
To stay competitive, employers will need to expand their search beyond traditional talent pools; make marketing their brand an essential part of the recruiting process; use data analytics to measure and improve hiring outcomes; and offer benefits and perks that employees value, such as flexible work schedules, remote work options, clear career paths and generous paid time off.
In response to the shortage, some employers are turning to hiring contingent workers to get projects done — and in the long run, reconsidering where and when they may use contractors to complete a project rather than employees. These shifts have prompted employers to reconsider what it looks like to manage talent teams in total; hiring a mix of employees and contractors is more common now as more employers work toward a more agile approach.
Employers can expect large numbers of separations and hires to occur monthly during the business cycle, according to BLS. When the number of hires is greater than the number of separations, employment rises, even if the number of hires remains steady or declines. Conversely, when the number of separations exceeds the number of hires, employment declines.