Unemployment Rate Remains at 17-Year Low

The unemployment rate remains at record low as employers add a healthy amount of jobs during the past month. Let’s go inside the latest jobs report.

December 8, 2017 – Employers added 228,000 jobs last month as the U.S. unemployment rate remained at a 17 year low of 4.1 percent, according to the most recent U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report. The number of unemployed persons was essentially unchanged at 6.6 million. Wall Street economists were forecasting nonfarm payroll gains of 195,000 in November.

Employment continued to trend up in professional and business services, manufacturing, and healthcare. “It’s a really, really strong economy,” said Tom Gimbel, chief executive of recruiting firm LaSalle Network. “Companies really want to take advantage of the economy, so they want to hire and get while the getting’s good.”

The November report is confirmation that the U.S. economy remains in solid shape at the end of 2017, observed Gus Faucher, chief economist at PNC Financial Services. “These are really strong numbers, which is pretty exciting, since this is our first clean read after the volatility associated with the hurricanes,” said Josh Wright, chief economist at iCIMS.

Where Job Growth Occurred

  • Employment in professional and business services continued on an upward trend in November (+46,000). Over the past 12 months, the industry has added 548,000 jobs.
  • In November, manufacturing added 31,000 jobs. Within the industry, employment rose in machinery (+8,000), fabricated metal products (+7,000), computer and electronic products (+4,000), and plastics and rubber products (+4,000). Since a recent low in November 2016, manufacturing employment has increased by 189,000.
  • Healthcare added 30,000 jobs in November. Most of the gain occurred in ambulatory health care services (+25,000), which includes offices of physicians and outpatient care centers. Monthly employment growth in healthcare has averaged 24,000 thus far in 2017, compared with an average increase of 32,000 per month in 2016.
  • Within construction, employment among specialty trade contractors increased by 23,000 in November and by 132,000 over the year.
  • Employment in other major industries, including mining, wholesale trade, retail trade, transportation and warehousing, information, financial activities, leisure and hospitality, and government, changed little over the month.

Wage Growth Seen in Most Recent Quarter
Overall wage growth increased by 1.7 percent year-over-year across all industries in the third quarter, according to the latest ADP Workforce Vitality Report. The report tracks the same set of workers over time, which provides a more insightful picture of wage growth than overall wage growth.


What Sectors Are Hiring

U.S. employers in all sectors expected hiring to pick up for the remainder of the year, with 21 percent planning to add staff between now and December.

According to the latest “Employment Outlook Survey,” released by ManpowerGroup, employers in all 13 national industry sectors expected to grow staffing levels during the final quarter of 2017: leisure & hospitality (28 percent), professional & business services (22 percent), wholesale & retail trade (20 percent), durable goods manufacturing (18 percent), transportation & utilities (18 percent), construction (16 percent), education & health services (13 percent), financial activities (13 percent), information (13 percent), nondurable goods manufacturing (13 percent), mining (13 percent), other services (13 percent), government (12 percent).

When compared with the third quarter of 2017, employers reported slightly stronger hiring prospects in four industry sectors nationwide: construction, leisure & hospitality, other services and professional & business services. For two of these sectors – other services and professional & business services – hiring intentions are stronger than at any point since they were first analyzed nine years ago. In addition, employers in durable goods manufacturing reported the strongest intentions in the past 10 years.

“Technological disruption is transforming manufacturing into a high-tech, high-skilled industry,” said Michael Stull, senior vice president, Manpower North America. “At the same time, demand for ‘Made in America’ continues to grow and organizations are stepping up their manufacturing efforts here on U.S. soil.” From New York to New Mexico, he said, manufacturing companies are looking for increasingly specific skills.

“That’s why we’re working with companies like Rockwell Automation to build the right-skilled advanced manufacturing workforce to help fuel America’s growth,” he said. “Other sectors would do well to follow the upskilling trend – the skills of the future will look very different from today. We can’t afford to wait and see exactly what these skills might be. We need to build the plane while flying it too.”

What Lies Ahead

“I’ve been recruiting for nearly 30 years, and rarely have I been as optimistic as I am right now about the coming year,” said Rob Tillman, founder of executive search firm TillmanCarlson. “Historically, recruiting activity has most closely tracked the consumer confidence index which is now at a 17-year high. “While we may be entering the final stages of the economic recovery, the trends we see in the war for talent should become even more pronounced in 2018.”


The Advantages of Holiday Job Hunting In the C-Suite
If you are an executive who is looking to land a new senior-level job, you might want to start your search now rather than wait for the New Year festivities to end. That’s the advice of Dean Trimble, CEO and managing director of Jackson Stevens Resumes in St. Paul.


Lack of Available Talent

A company’s workforce is clearly its most valuable asset. The largest expense on any employer’s balance sheet is headcount, and investing in employees and their skills are critical to an organization’s success. Smart employers are acting now to ensure they have the most highly skilled and productive workforce to ensure their organization is prepared for whatever business challenges are coming.

According to the “Definitive Guide” report by Adecco, nearly half (48 percent) of best-in-class companies are already increasing training in critical skill areas to help combat the skills gap. Employees likely want to fill any holes in their skill-set, but cost can be prohibitive. These programs can be expensive. But for companies, the initial investment in alternative training programs may pay lasting dividends, especially where global competition is concerned, said Adecco.

Governments, businesses and employees can learn a lot from what the U.S. economy and workforce endured during the great recession. What is certain is that American workers will show resilience in the face of a daunting labor market, said Adecco. By applying that same resilience, innovation and reinvention to the current skills gap challenge, the report concluded, the American workforce will undoubtedly evolve to meet the needs of the new global economy.

A significant part of the challenge will be balancing the development of soft and hard skills; both will be required to effectively navigate and tackle new industries, technologies and global competitors. And while these are the same dynamics responsible for widening the skills gap, the report said, they will also help connect the American workforce and economy to a greater success and prosperity.

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

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