Jobs Report Points to Potential Uncertainty Ahead

The strong economy continues, but there are warning signs as we head into 2019 – among them: China, Brexit, tariffs and impeachment. Here’s the latest jobs report, with executive recruiters from Whitehouse Advisors and Garrett Search Partners weighing in with optimistic outlooks.

December 7, 2018 – Employers added 155,000 jobs last month as the U.S. unemployment rate was unchanged at 3.7 percent, according to the most recent U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report released this morning. Wall Street analysts had expected an increase of about 190,000. The November gain is the 97th consecutive month of job growth. The number of unemployed people stands at 6.0 million.

“The slightly more modest 155,000 gain in payroll employment in November may not go down well in markets given the heightened nervousness in recent months, but this is still a solid gain that suggests economic growth is gradually slowing back towards its potential pace,” said Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics. “There is nothing here to suggest the economy is suffering a more sudden downturn.”

Where Job Growth Occurred

  • Healthcare employment rose by 32,000 in November. Within the industry, job gains occurred in ambulatory health care services (+19,000) and hospitals (+13,000). Over the year, healthcare has added 328,000 jobs.
  • In November, manufacturing added 27,000 jobs, with increases in chemicals (+6,000) and primary metals (+3,000). Manufacturing employment has increased by 288,000 over the year, largely in durable goods industries.
  • Employment in transportation and warehousing rose by 25,000 in November. Job gains occurred in couriers and messengers (+10,000) and in warehousing and storage (+6,000). Over the year, transportation and warehousing has added 192,000 jobs.
  • In November, employment in professional and business services continued on an upward trend (+32,000). The industry has added 561,000 jobs over the year.

Employers Look to Continue Hiring Plans
U.S. employers are expecting hiring to pick up in the fourth quarter, with 22 percent of employers planning to add staff, according to the latest “Employment Outlook Survey,” released today by ManpowerGroup. Employers in all U.S. regions and industry sectors are looking for headcount to grow.

  • Retail trade employment changed little in November (+18,000). Job growth occurred in general merchandise stores (+39,000) and miscellaneous store retailers (+10,000). These gains were offset, in part, by declines in clothing and clothing accessories stores (-14,000); electronics and appliance stores (-11,000); and sporting goods, hobby, and book stores (-11,000).

Related: Confidence In Economy Resulting In Bullish Hiring Projections

  • Employment in other major industries—including mining, construction, wholesale trade, information, financial activities, leisure and hospitality, and government—showed little change over the month.

Search Consultants Weigh In

“If you look at the key economic indicators, the outlook remains healthy as we close out 2018,” said Nancie S. Whitehouse, founder of talent acquisition consulting firm Whitehouse Advisors. “We have a steady growth rate, little inflation and low unemployment; today it was announced that the poverty rate is down. There will still be warnings about disruption and stock market volatility, and that higher interest rates or a trade war could trigger an economic slowdown,” she says. “But overall, the general viewpoint is quite positive and I am highly optimistic about the coming year.”

With Hiring in Full Swing, Job Seekers Remain in Control
Low unemployment and high demand for talent is feeding a recruiting environment where job seekers and new employees are more and more in control. CareerBuilder and SilkRoad have released the results of a new joint survey identifying job seekers’ and new employees’ expectations for hiring and onboarding.

“The talent acquisition function continues to shift from transactional hiring practices to more strategic and consultative recruiting solutions,” Ms. Whitehouse said. “This important move will impact not only talent acquisition, but retention and training programs as well. Progressive companies have been examining how AI and intelligent tools can impact their organizations,” Ms. Whitehouse continued. “It’s a long journey and more success stories will tell us if AI is the magic we all anticipate. I see a continued focus on redefining diversity and accommodating multi-generational workforces. And we’ll see today’s candidate driven market remain strong,” she said.

Related: 5 Employment Trends That Demand New Ways of Managing

“Our clients still tell us that attracting and retaining high caliber talent, not only at the executive level, but also for middle managers, is still the most problematic business challenge they face today,” said Chelsea Garrett, managing director of Garrett Search Partners. “We are seeing a narrowing focus on formal cultural fit assessments and a more robust push toward diversity and inclusion. We are in the midst of the tightest job market in 49 years, and finally, this year we’ve seen a significant increase in wages across the board,” she said. “Companies recognize candidates have many options, so they must move quickly. We’re coaching our clients around what levers they can pull to retain and develop top performers and how critical it is to keep strengthening their bench.”

As we look toward 2019, said Ms. Garrett, clients are still fairly optimistic. “However, in recent months, there is much more uncertainty about how a slowdown in China, Brexit and tariffs will dampen their 2019 forecasts. We’ve seen a tremendous uptick after the mid-term elections and hiring will continue in 2019, albeit at a slower pace,” she said. “A downturn is inevitable, but for now, our clients believe we still have another one or two years before we see our next recession.”

Related: Confidence In Economy Resulting In Bullish Hiring Projections

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

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