U.S. Job Growth Slows As Fewer Jobs Are Added

U.S. unemployment rate falls, but fewer jobs were added last month as President Donald J. Trump comes out of the gates much slower than promised. Let's take a closer look.

April 7, 2017 – Employers added 98,000 jobs last month as the U.S. unemployment rate fell to 4.5 percent, according to the most recent U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report. During the month, the number of workers unemployed also dropped to 7.2 million. March marked the 76th straight month of job growth in the U.S.

But economists surveyed by Bloomberg had expected 175,000 jobs to be added in the month. Still, the nation has added 178,000 new jobs on average over the past three months, far above what economists say is the pace necessary to keep up with population growth.

President Donald J. Trump has pledged to dramatically accelerate the pace of job growth and oversee the creation of 25 million new jobs in the next decade. By comparison, the U.S. has added 15.5 million jobs since 2010, a mark that includes significant catch-up from the mass layoffs of the financial crisis.

“Companies that are growing want to hire really good people, and when you have an unemployment rate under five percent, there’s a shortage of them,” said Tom Gimbel, chief executive officer of recruiting firm LaSalle Network.

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Where Job Growth Occurred

During the month, job growth took hold in a number of broad industries. Here’s a look at some of the most important key sectors:

  • Professional and business services jobs rose by 56,000, about in line with the average monthly gain over the prior 12 months. Over the month, job gains occurred in services to buildings and dwellings (+17,000) and in architectural and engineering services (+7,000).
  • Mining added 11,000 jobs in March, with most of the gain occurring in support activities for mining (+9,000). Mining employment has risen by 35,000 since reaching a recent low in October 2016.
  • Healthcare employment added (+14,000) during the month, with job gains in hospitals (+9,000) and outpatient care centers (+6,000). In the first three months of this year, healthcare added an average of 20,000 jobs per month, compared with an average monthly gain of 32,000 in 2016.
  • Financial services continued to trend up in March (+9,000) and has increased by 178,000 over the past 12 months.
  • Construction employment changed little in March (+6,000), following a gain of 59,000 in February. Employment in construction has been trending up since late last summer, largely among specialty trade contractors and in residential building.
  • Retail trade lost 30,000 jobs in March. Employment in general merchandise stores declined by 35,000 in March and has declined by 89,000 since a recent high in October 2016.
  • Employment in other major industries, including manufacturing, wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, information, leisure and hospitality, and government, showed little or no change over the month.

Recruiter’s Perspective

Bob Cavoto, managing director and founder of 20-20 Foresight Executive Search in Chicago said that in the wake of November’s presidential election the economy has simply been on a roll. “It was almost like the economy flicked a switch and hiring just started to be tremendous,” he said. “That’s what we’re seeing, and it has persisted in the number of search inquiries we’ve taken in and the number of searches we have in-house. From our standpoint, employment at the executive level in real estate and financial services has been spectacular.”

And though some have speculated that continued good times would hinge on President Trump’s ability to deliver on his agenda, starting with healthcare reform, Mr. Cavoto disagrees: “I think just having a stable government with a stable financial and banking system — and the banking system is very stable right now — will prove to be very beneficial for the overall economy and for real estate. I don’t think any of the major initiatives that Trump may want to put through is going to have any adverse effect on the economy in the next 12 to 24 months.”

The exception, he said, would be if there should be a major war, a terrorist act, or a major curtailment of immigration coming into the U.S. “Those could put a damper on things. But I see a lot of foreign investment coming into the United States as a safe haven and I see optimism in people. What we see is strength across the board.” 

Mr. Cavoto is not particularly worried that the employment figures came in as they did this month. “I’m not concerned,” he said. “That’s because in real estate, at least, I see too much foreign investment, and there’s a lot of money out there to be invested. And many of our clients are doing equity raises right now, and from what I hear from them they’re successful.”

Companies Ready to Hire 

According to the latest Business Roundtable ‘CEO Economic Outlook Survey,’ one important constituent group looking ahead to the Trump presidency with a positive outlook is chief executive officers.

“America’s business leaders are encouraged by the president’s pledge to boost economic growth,” said Doug Oberhelman, chairman and CEO of Caterpillar and chairman of Business Roundtable. “We will work with the incoming Administration and Congress to enact pro-growth policies such as modernizing the U.S. tax system, adopting a smarter approach to regulation, investing in infrastructure and focusing on the education and training people need to thrive in the 21st century economy.” 

With so many workers looking to find new opportunities, it comes at a time when many companies also happen to be looking for new talent. Eighty four percent of HR leaders say they are hiring for full time positions, according to a recent report by recruiting services company LaSalle Network. The survey also found that 70 percent of respondents feel optimistic about the economy. Leaders within the healthcare, technology, and education industries were more optimistic about their hiring plans. 

Fifty percent of employers plan to hire full time, permanent workers, on par with 49 percent last year, according to CareerBuilder’s job forecast. Another 29 percent of employers plan to hire part-time employees, on par with 28 percent last year; and 32 percent of employers plan to hire temporary or contract workers, down slightly from 34 percent last year.

CareerBuilder’s study also found that information technology (68 percent), healthcare (65 percent), financial services (56 percent) and manufacturing (51 percent) are among industries expected to outperform the national average for full-time, permanent hiring. About one in five employers, or 19 percent, anticipate increasing staff levels, according to the latest ‘Manpower Employment Outlook Survey,’ released today by ManpowerGroup.

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief, Hunt Scanlon Media

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