U.S. Job Growth Slows in October

This month’s jobs report comes as the economy continues to defy forecasts of a downturn, even as inflation lingers. Consumers might be gloomy, but the overall economic picture remains bright.

November 3, 2023 – Employment rose by 150,000 in October as the U.S. unemployment rate was unchanged at 3.9 percent, according to the most recent U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report. The number of unemployed persons was 6.5 million in October. Job gains occurred in healthcare, government, and social assistance. Employment declined in manufacturing due to strike activity.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (3.7 percent), adult women (3.3 percent), teenagers (13.2 percent), Whites (3.5 percent), Blacks (5.8 percent), Asians (3.1 percent), and Hispanics (4.8 percent) showed little change in October. Among the unemployed, the number of permanent job losers increased by 164,000 over the month to 1.6 million. The number of persons on temporary layoff changed little at 873,000. In October, the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was little changed at 1.3 million. The long-term unemployed accounted for 19.8 percent of all unemployed persons.

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons, at 4.3 million, changed little in October. These individuals, who would have preferred full-time employment, were working part time because their hours had been reduced or they were unable to find full-time jobs. In October, the number of persons not in the labor force who currently want a job was 5.4 million, little different from the prior month. These individuals were not counted as unemployed because they were not actively looking for work during the four weeks preceding the survey or were unavailable to take a job.

“Winter cooling is hitting the labor market,” said Becky Frankiewicz, chief commercial officer at staffing firm ManpowerGroup. “The post-pandemic hiring frenzy and summer hiring warmth has cooled and companies are now holding onto employees.”

“After years of incredible strength, the labor market could finally be slowing,” said David Russell, global head of market strategy at TradeStation. “The topline miss, plus downward revisions and higher unemployment, deliver a strong message to chair Jerome Powell and the Fed. Further tightening is now highly unlikely, and rate cuts could be back on the table next year.”

Where Job Growth Occurred

  • Healthcare added 58,000 jobs in October, in line with the average monthly gain of 53,000 over the prior 12 months. Over the month, employment continued to trend up in ambulatory healthcare services (+32,000), hospitals (+18,000), and nursing and residential care facilities (+8,000).
  • Employment in government increased by 51,000 in October and has returned to its pre-pandemic February 2020 level. Monthly job growth in government had averaged 50,000 in the prior 12 months. In October, employment continued to trend up in local government (+38,000).

Related: How Fear of a Recession Impacts Talent Strategy

  • Social assistance added 19,000 jobs in October, compared with the average monthly gain of 23,000 over the prior 12 months. Over the month, employment continued to trend up in individual and family services (+14,000).
  • In October, construction employment continued to trend up (+23,000), about in line with the average monthly gain of 18,000 over the prior 12 months. Employment continued to trend up over the month in specialty trade contractors (+14,000) and construction of buildings (+6,000).

Predicting 2024’s Talent Acquisition Trends

No individual can see the future clearly. But when we blend the expert views of global talent leaders with comprehensive data, it becomes clearer. It’s this powerful combination of insights that fuels Korn Ferry’s annual talent acquisition trends report. Each year the search firm, which is the largest globally as ranked by Hunt Scanlon Media, lays out recruitment trends and talent trends you will be seeing in the coming year and offers advice on how to stay ahead of them. “In 2024, it’s your skills that count,” the Korn Ferry report said. “It’s a big win for diversity, equity and inclusion. And widening the talent pool will bring big advantages to organizations. With so many skills gaps to close, we expect businesses to focus on the skills they need to bring on and develop now.”

  • Employment in manufacturing decreased by 35,000 in October, reflecting a decline of 33,000 in motor vehicles and parts that was largely due to strike activity.
  • In October, employment in leisure and hospitality changed little (+19,000). The industry had added an average of 52,000 jobs per month over the prior 12 months.
  • Employment in professional and business services was little changed in October (+15,000) and has shown little net change since May. Employment in temporary help services changed little over the month (+7,000) but is 229,000 below its peak in March 2022.
  • In October, employment in transportation and warehousing was little changed (-12,000) and has shown little net change over the year. Over the month, warehousing and storage lost 11,000 jobs, while air transportation added 4,000 jobs.
  • Information employment changed little in October (-9,000). Employment in motion picture and sound recording continued to trend down (-5,000); the industry has lost 44,000 jobs since May, at least partially reflecting the impact of an ongoing labor dispute.
  • Over the month, employment showed little change in other major industries, including mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction; wholesale trade; retail trade; financial activities; and other services.

Related: The Prospect of a Recession Remains Murky

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Executive Editor; Lily Fauver, Senior Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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