- The U.S. gained 148,000 jobs to close out 2017, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports. Industries with the highest job growth last month were healthcare (31,000), construction (30,000) and manufacturing (25,000). However, December's numbers showed no change in the national unemployment rate, which remains at 4.1%.
- Job site Indeed, however, says the slow growth is no cause for alarm. Wages increased slightly in 2017, with most growth occurring in the lower paying industries, and the job market has plenty of momentum, the company says.
- Automation could stem this growth over the long haul, based on Indeed's analysis, but growth should at least continue through 2018, it says.
Indeed may well be correct that employers will have to offer more competitive salaries in the near future, especially for skilled positions. And the longer they wait, the more they'll pay: Market research firm Forrester predicts that companies lagging behind in recruiting vital digital talent, for example, could be forced to pay 20% above the going rate for these high in-demand workers.
Low-wage workers will see some wage growth, but perhaps at a lower rate. While minimum-wage increases didn't go unchallenged last year, 37 state and municipal laws went into effect on Jan. 1. Some employers said they'll use their savings from the new tax law to raise their minimum wages. But wages remain mostly stagnant, inching up only a few percentage points, as Aon and Willis Towers Watson reports show.
Employers shouldn't discount how such factors as automation and drug addiction could impact the labor market. The Forrest report says automation could eliminate 9% of all U.S. jobs and generate 2% of new jobs. Automation is targeting mostly repetitive-motion, lower-paying jobs in the retail warehouse and manufacturing sectors. And the opioid epidemic has squeezed the already tight labor market by removing a significant number of workers from the workforce, according to a paper by Princeton University professor.
In response to the uncertainty, many employers are turning to the contingent workforce for both current needs and to future-proof the business, Rebecca Henderson, CEO of Randstad Sourceright, said in a statement emailed to HR Dive. It's likely such hiring will only continue to expand.