As Job Growth Continues, ‘Robust Hiring Year’ Expected

The economy is still creating jobs at a reasonable pace. In fact, companies seem to be hiring with abandon as we enter an unprecedented 11th year of expansion. Let’s take a look into the just released jobs report as leading search consultants from BridgeStreet Partners and The Christopher Group weigh in!

January 10, 2020 – Employers added 145,000 jobs last month as the U.S. unemployment rate remained unchanged at 3.5 percent, according to the most recent U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report. The increase was below the 164,000 forecast by economists. The December gain is the 111th consecutive month of job growth. The number of unemployed currently stands at 6.3 million. In 2019, the unemployment rate in particular hit lows not seen 50 years.

Sluggish growth and uncertainty abroad, combined with a maturing labor market at home, contributed to slimmer payroll gains last year, Gregory Daco, the chief United States economist at Oxford Economics told The New York Times.

“I think 2019 was a year of consolidation,” Mr. Daco said. “We had relatively strong and steady job growth over the year despite a number of headwinds including a trade war with China, weaker global activity and heightened policy uncertainty.”

Where Job Growth Occurred

  • In December, retail trade added 41,000 jobs. Employment increased in clothing and accessories stores (+33,000) and in building material and garden supply stores (+7,000); both industries showed employment declines in the prior month. Employment in retail trade changed little, on net, in both 2019 and 2018 (+9,000 and +14,000, respectively).
  • Employment in healthcare increased by 28,000 in December. Ambulatory healthcare services and hospitals added jobs over the month (+23,000 and +9,000, respectively). Healthcare added 399,000 jobs in 2019, compared with an increase of 350,000 in 2018.
  • Employment in leisure and hospitality continued to trend up in December (+40,000). The industry added 388,000 jobs in 2019, similar to the increase in 2018 (+359,000).

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A new survey reveals that the world’s chief executives view the risk of a recession as their biggest external concern in 2020. Attracting and retaining talent ranks as their top internal concern. They also feel unsettled by trade uncertainty, political instability and more intense competition from disruptive technologies. They plan to counter such forces, however, by developing more innovative cultures and setting up new business models.


  • Mining employment declined by 8,000 in December. In 2019, employment in mining declined by 24,000, after rising by 63,000 in 2018.
  • Construction employment changed little in December (+20,000). Employment in the industry rose by 151,000 in 2019, about half of the 2018 gain of 307,000.
  • In December, employment in professional and business services showed little change (+10,000). The industry added 397,000 jobs in 2019, down from an increase of 561,000 jobs in 2018.
  • Employment in transportation and warehousing changed little in December (-10,000). Employment in the industry increased by 57,000 in 2019, about one-fourth of the 2018 gain of 216,000.
  • Manufacturing employment was little changed in December (-12,000). Employment in the industry changed little in 2019 (+46,000), after increasing in 2018 (+264,000).
  • In December, employment showed little change in other major industries, including wholesale trade, information, financial activities, and government.

Hiring in 2020

U.S. employers expect the hiring pace to remain steady into the first 90 days of 2020 though regional and industry forecasts are mixed, according to the latest “Employment Outlook Survey,” released by ManpowerGroup. Employers in all U.S. regions and industry sectors said they were expecting headcount to grow. This is the eighth consecutive year of double-digit hiring outlooks in the U.S., according to the survey of more than 11,500 U.S. employers.

“Continued concerns over trade uncertainty are leading to some uneven market conditions in the U.S., yet the overall labor market looks resilient heading into the new year,” said Becky Frankiewicz, president of ManpowerGroup North America. “With seven million jobs open for 11 straight months and ongoing positive hiring intentions across all industries, employers need to work harder to match people to the right roles.”

“Companies that want to hire and retain the best talent, should hire for learnability and help people develop new skills for emerging roles,” she said. “Our economic prosperity depends on helping people adapt their skills so companies can compete in a talent scarce economy.”

Related: The Upskilling Deadlock to Continue in 2020

ManpowerGroup interviewed over 58,000 employers in 43 countries and territories to forecast labor market activity in the first quarter of 2020. All participants were asked, “How do you anticipate total employment at your location to change in the three months to the end of March 2020 as compared to the current quarter?” In the ManpowerGroup research for the first quarter of 2020, employers in 42 of 43 countries and territories surveyed said they expect to grow payrolls in the period up to the end of March 2020.


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Options Group has just released its 2019/2020 Global Financial Markets Overview and Compensation Report, long considered the ‘gold standard’ for pay data metrics among banks and investment banks.

This year’s report, “The Intersection of Disruptive Technology and Geopolitical Protectionism,” is chock full of key industry analytics, including financial market overviews, compensation summaries, salient predictions and detailed year-over-year hiring trends data, gathered from internal surveys, real hiring data, and publicly available news.


When compared with the previous quarter, hiring plans strengthen in 15 of the 43 countries and territories, while employers in 23 reported weaker hiring prospects, with no change reported in five. In a comparison with last year at this time, employers in 12 countries and territories reported stronger hiring sentiments, while hiring intentions weakened in 26 and were unchanged in five. The strongest labor markets were anticipated in Greece, Japan, Taiwan, the U.S. and Romania, while the weakest hiring activity was expected in Panama, Argentina, Costa Rica, Italy and Spain.

Search Consultants Weigh In

“The consistently low unemployment rate has clearly made it a buyers’ market and given senior executives options not available in the past,” said Dave Westberry, managing director at BridgeStreet Partners. “However, companies seeking to add senior talent need to have a position clearly defined, their hiring process streamlined, and be ready to make a decision.  The old saying “he who hesitates loses” has never been truer.

“Our clients, top HR and staffing departments across the U.S., are reporting significant talent needs across all job families,” said Tom Christopher, founder and CEO of The Christopher Group. “We expect 2020 to be a robust hiring year as more and more clients report growing talent shortages.”

“2019 was marked by steady gains in job creation, and today’s numbers indicate that the labor market has entered 2020 with strength,” said Rebecca Henderson, CEO Randstad global businesses. “If organizations want to sustain this growth throughout 2020, they must prioritize reskilling their workforce to keep pace with the digital transformation.”

“Automation, AI and technological advancements have shifted how businesses operate and are redefining what skills are most important for talent to possess,” she said. “Human capital leaders must make a concerted effort across their entire organization to implement reskilling programs that help talent become more agile and analytical in order to best prepare workers for the demands of today and tomorrow.”

Related: Top Executive Jobs for 2020

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor  – Hunt Scanlon Media

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