Unemployment hovers at 3.7%, but is a slowdown coming?
- The U.S. labor market gained 250,000 nonfarm jobs in October, while the unemployment rate held steady at 3.7% from the previous month, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' monthly jobs report. The industries with the largest job growth were in health care (+36,000), manufacturing (+32,000), construction (+30,000), and transportation and warehousing (+25,000).
- Temporary employment was up slightly by 0.1% from September to October, a growth of 2.2% over October 2017 figures, according to seasonally adjusted data from BLS. Year-to-year job growth in temporary staffing averaged 3.2% per month from January to October in 2018, a notable increase over the average 2.2% per month for the entire year of 2017.
- In a statement from the American Staffing Association (ASA) on October's job numbers, President and CEO Richard Wahlquist said: "With close to 1 million more job openings than unemployed workers to fill them, employers need to reexamine their recruitment, retention, and employee development strategies to remain competitive and support continued growth."
In a tight labor market, with unemployment at a 49-year low, employers continue to struggle with filling job openings. And for retailers facing the upcoming holiday season, when temporary hiring and training are at their highest, finding workers to fill openings presents even greater challenges. Analysis by Challenger, Gray & Christmas suggests that the season was off to a strong start. According to the firm's Holiday Hiring Outlook, businesses have more seasonal job openings in 2018 (around 400,000) than in previous years and many started hiring back in August or September for seasonal work. Retailers are using a number of recruiting strategies to attract applicants, including raising wages, offering hourly workers paid family leave and other in-demand benefits, and providing career development opportunities.
"To ensure they meet their business goals, companies should invest in re-skilling and incentivizing their existing workforce," Rebecca Henderson, CEO of Randstad Sourceright, said in an emailed statement. "This will allow organizations to remain competitive despite a worker shortage. Re-skilling also positively impacts morale, building a more engaged and loyal workforce that already understands the organization's mission and culture."
Job growth is normally a sign of a strong economy, but if the unemployment rate continues to slide, employers could find trouble. Mark Zandi, Moody's Analytics chief economist, told Politico that the current rate of job growth "is not sustainable."
"Even if businesses want to hire workers, they're not going to be able to find them," Zandi said. "At some point it's going to bite into the job numbers, it's inevitable."
- American Staffing Association How Often Does BLS Overestimate Staffing Industry Monthly Employment?