Unemployment Rate Holds Steady at 3.8 Percent

Employers added 336,000 jobs last month, according to the latest Labor Department report. Employment in leisure and hospitality; government; healthcare; professional, scientific, and technical services; and social assistance all saw gains. Russell Riendeau of New Frontier Search Co. joins Hunt Scanlon to discuss what he is seeing in the job market and what he anticipates moving forward. 

October 6, 2023 – Employment rose by 336,000 in September as the U.S. unemployment rate was unchanged at 3.8 percent, according to the most recent U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report. The number of unemployed persons was 6.4 million in September. Job gains occurred in leisure and hospitality; government; healthcare; professional, scientific, and technical services; and social assistance.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (3.8 percent), adult women (3.1 percent), teenagers (11.6 percent), Whites (3.4 percent), Blacks (5.7 percent), Asians (2.8 percent), and Hispanics (4.6 percent) showed little or no change in September. The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was little changed at 1.2 million in September. The long-term unemployed accounted for 19.1 percent of all unemployed persons.

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons, at 4.1 million, changed little in September. 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 September, the number of persons not in the labor force who currently want a job was 5.5 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.

Where Job Growth Occurred

• Leisure and hospitality added 96,000 jobs in September, above the average monthly gain of 61,000 over the prior 12 months. Employment in food services and drinking places rose by 61,000 over the month and has returned to its pre-pandemic February 2020 level. Accommodation employment continued to trend up over the month (+16,000) but remains below its February 2020 level by 217,000, or 10.3 percent.

• In September, government employment increased by 73,000, above the average monthly gain of 47,000 over the prior 12 months. Over the month, job gains occurred in state government education (+29,000) and in local government, excluding education (+27,000). Employment in government is slightly below (-9,000) its February 2020 level.

• Healthcare added 41,000 jobs in September, compared 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 (+24,000), hospitals (+8,000), and nursing and residential care facilities (+8,000).

• Employment in professional, scientific, and technical services increased by 29,000 in September, in line with the average monthly gain of 27,000 over the prior 12 months.

• Social assistance added 25,000 jobs in September, about the same as the average monthly gain of 23,000 over the prior 12 months. Over the month, job growth occurred in individual and family services (+19,000).

• In September, employment in transportation and warehousing changed little (+9,000). Truck transportation added 9,000 jobs, following a decline of 25,000 in August that largely reflected a business closure. Air transportation added 5,000 jobs in September. Employment in transportation and warehousing has shown little net change over the year.

• Employment in information changed little in September (-5,000). Within the industry, employment in motion picture and sound recording industries continued to trend down (-7,000) and has declined by 45,000 since May, reflecting the impact of labor disputes.

• Employment showed little change over the month in other major industries, including mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction; construction; manufacturing; wholesale trade; retail trade; financial activities; and other services.

Talent Expert Weighs In

Russ Riendeau, Ph.D., is senior partner and chief behavioral scientist with New Frontier Search Company, a retained search practice specializing in senior leadership, sales and sales management. The author/co-author of 11 books, numerous TEDx Talks, and a highly regarded keynote speaker, he also consults and writes about behavioral science topics and peak performance. Dr. Riendeau recently sat down with Hunt Scanlon Media to discuss his views on the current state of economy and what he foresees looking ahead!

Russ, how have the events of the past few years changed how people do business?

In a TEDx Talk I gave last October on Epigenetics, I said that everything has led to this moment for every person. Social media is compressing disinformation like wildfire and is impacting vulnerable minds and the less-informed in business. This is leading to decisions based on biases, fear, inaccuracy, and emotional tugs of the heart that are not science based. This reality impacts how and why job seekers stay or want to leave jobs; how a hiring manager views a candidate; how shareholders’ patience level holds up with delayed results; as well as how mental health crises’ continue to challenge a percentage of the workforce charged with making good decisions in difficult times.

What do you see for the global economy looking ahead? Do you see the current market for talent driven by job seekers?

No, I don’t think job seekers drive the market for talent. What if we considered it was the reverse? In our world today, people believe they have may options to pursue new, exciting, well-paying jobs, given new technology, virtual and remote work options, etc. Yet, in reality, the majority of job seekers don’t really do the deeper work to prepare for a job change or career change. So, how does this impact the market? Hiring managers are  forced to weed through the unqualified and undecided to find the best-in-show for a specific job. This costs managers time, money, and confusion in the ranks in how to accommodate this new hire. Candidates, as well often believe they have the skills and discipline to work remotely, when they have not proven they can be effective. Productivity research continues to show less efficiency with remote workers, so the jury is still out on this front.

“In our world today, people believe they have may options to pursue new, exciting, well-paying jobs, given new technology, virtual and remote work options, etc.”

Have you made any adjustments in how you serve clients?

I am reminding my retained clients of a few critical realities they really need to embrace in 2023 and 2024:

1. Be prepared to hire even the first candidate that looks strong because there is no guarantee the more you interview, the better they will be for the role. It doesn’t work that way.

2. Have a flexible criteria to the skill-sets and experience to consider. Hiring a competitor’s person is fraught with risk and no guarantee they will succeed or get going faster just because they “have industry experience.” This is a myth.

3. Hire people with a proven process, not simply a compelling philosophy. If you have good process, your philosophy is more likely to be strong. A lot of people talk great philosophy in interviews, but their process is weak, even non-existent.

4. Make a damn decision. Excessive interviews and weeks between with no action, self-reporting assessments given too much weight on decisions to hire/not hire, doing a five-mile hike with a full pack is ancient history. Do a few thorough interviews, ask for evidence of their success in documents and let the manager that will be accountable to this person make the decision to hire. Consensus hiring is a flawed methodology and takes all the accountability off the hiring manager.

5. Be proactive in your hiring. Running an ad on LinkedIn or Indeed is not recruiting; it’s wishful thinking that the right person happens to see your ad. This approach demonstrates no sense of urgency that the open position is really important.

6. HR is not a recruiting machine. Today’s HR teams are overloaded with compliance issues, staffing and onboarding, and workplace issues. They don’t have the bandwidth to actively recruit for open positions. Yet they often will say they can handle the search, but this may be about job protection and threats to their roles. Which is not the case, but often the reality. HR should not be making decisions as to what search methods are required to find talent in this economy. The hiring manager with the pressure to produce is the decision maker on this issue.

What do you foresee in regards to AI helping organizations to find talent? 

AI will be a distraction and could also disguise marginal talent that has been aided in AI’s ability to write and create content that is not indicative of the candidate. And because it is still in its infancy, it will be relied on inconsistently to deliver accurate content. I would suggest hiring managers that are around AI to really probe candidates’ intelligence and curiosity around this topic to determine if they have the horsepower to embrace this technology. And is the company doing more to train and prepare the team to use it?

Related: Why Your New Hire Isn’t Working Out

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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