Unemployment Rate Holds Steady at 3.9 Percent

May 3, 2024 – Employment rose by 175,000 in April as the U.S. unemployment rate rose slightly to 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 April. Job gains occurred in healthcare, in social assistance, and in transportation and warehousing.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate for adult men (3.6 percent) increased in April. The rate for Blacks (5.6 percent) decreased, offsetting an increase in the prior month. The jobless rates for adult women (3.5 percent), teenagers (11.7 percent), Whites (3.5 percent), Asians (2.8 percent), and Hispanics (4.8 percent) showed little change over the month. The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more), at 1.3 million, was essentially unchanged in April. The long-term unemployed accounted for 19.6 percent of all unemployed people.

The labor force participation rate held at 62.7 percent in April, and the employment-population ratio was little changed at 60.2 percent. These measures have shown little change over the year. The number of people employed part time for economic reasons, at 4.5 million, changed little in April. 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 April, the number of people not in the labor force who currently want a job, at 5.6 million, was little changed. 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.

Among those not in the labor force who wanted a job, the number of people marginally attached to the labor force, at 1.6 million, was little changed in April. These individuals wanted and were available for work and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months but had not looked for work in the four weeks preceding the survey. The number of discouraged workers, a subset of the marginally attached who believed that no jobs were available for them, also changed little over the month at 362,000.

Where Job Growth Occurred

  • Healthcare added 56,000 jobs in April, in line with the average monthly gain of 63,000 over the prior 12 months. In April, employment continued to increase in ambulatory healthcare services (+33,000), hospitals (+14,000), and nursing and residential care facilities (+9,000).
  • Employment in social assistance increased by 31,000 in April, led by a gain in individual and family services (+23,000). Social assistance had added an average of 21,000 jobs per month over the prior 12 months.
  • In April, transportation and warehousing added 22,000 jobs, with gains in couriers and messengers (+8,000) and warehousing and storage (+8,000). Over the prior 12 months, employment in transportation and warehousing had shown little net change.
  • Employment in retail trade continued to trend up in April (+20,000). Over the prior 12 months, the industry had added an average of 7,000 jobs per month. In April, employment increased in general merchandise retailers (+10,000), building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers (+7,000), and health and personal care retailers (+5,000). Electronics and appliance retailers lost 3,000 jobs.

Recruiting Firms Continue to Focus on Winning New Business in 2024
In the midst of a tumultuous year and uncertain global economy, the recruiting industry in 2023 focused on maintaining revenue and margin in the face of declining job requisitions and slower conversions. As a result of these challenges, firms seem to have stalled in their digital transformation journey, according to a new report from Bullhorn. In 2020 only 25 percent of firms had a digital transformation strategy, but that rose to 84 percent by 2022. And by 2023, 29 percent were in the advanced stages of digital transformation. This year, for the first time, Bullhorn found that progress slowed, with only 73 percent having made progress on digital transformation.

  • Construction employment changed little in April (+9,000), following an increase of 40,000 in March. Over the prior 12 months, construction had added an average of 22,000 jobs per month.
  • Employment in government changed little in April (+8,000). Over the prior 12 months, government had added an average of 55,000 jobs per month. In April, local government employment was unchanged, following an increase of 51,000 in March.
  • Employment was little changed over the month in other major industries, including mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction; manufacturing; wholesale trade; information; financial activities; professional and business services; leisure and hospitality; and other services.

Talent Expert Weighs In

“We have seen many trends in the industry recently and that’s across the board,” said Sanjiv Mittu, founding partner of Sandhill Talent Capital. “Depending upon the company you cater, their expectations vary, and they are looking for leadership consulting, need to know they had a make-shift team and how they can make improvements in there. Some companies are looking for full-time senior leaders whereas some are looking for Interim leaders to save on the cost.”

“There are some who are looking for talent advisory services to get sound advice around strategizing their talent acquisition, corporate culture, diversity planning, talent development/training, and organization structuring,” Mr. Mittu said. “There is a major emphasis and focus around building the right culture for the company, which is vital for attracting the right talent and retaining them.”

“Another prominent trend that we have noticed is, since we are being introduced to various new cutting-edge technologies in disruptive spaces, the hiring managers are looking for niche skillsets and traditional hiring approach is not something they like,” said Mr. Mittu. “They prefer the firms not only with the with deep understanding of the latest and the greatest in the industry but someone who understands the challenges and requirements of their clients to make the talent search more efficient for them.”

Related: Keys to Finding Top Senior Talent in 2024

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

Share This Article


Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments