Kevin's U.S. labor market overview: March 2024

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Article by Kevin Erickson
Mar 13, 2024
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With the January JOLTs and February Jobs Report being released last week, the most recent labor market data revealed similar themes to the latter part of 2023. On the surface, there continues to be a high number of open jobs compared to historical averages. However, as you dig deeper, there continues to be a few industries driving the openings and actual hiring. 

The February Jobs Report, which showed employers added 275,000 jobs, was driven by the same 3 industries that have continued to add workers after operating in human capital deficits during the pandemic: healthcare, leisure & hospitality and government. For a number of months, we have seen limited hiring in many of the industries that drive corporate-related skill sets and white-collar professions. The areas of IT, marketing, accounting & finance, human resources and other corporate functions continue to be muted in their demand for new talent. 

As these jobs have become scarcer, another trend that has emerged is an employee’s willingness to voluntarily quit their job for another. While we saw the quits surge to historical highs during the pandemic, this data point has moved to the lowest it’s been since August of 2020, and it’s clear employee confidence has waned significantly since the peak of the “Great Resignation”.  

With the unemployment rate ticking up to 3.9% in February, companies continue to be thoughtful in how and when they add talent. That said, hiring manager sentiment for 2024 continues to be positive. As the picture on the fight against inflation, the decline of interest rates and the presidential election becomes clearer, so will the path and plans for companies to hire.

All of that said, the interesting element we’re seeing in our own data is more candidates holding multiple offers from employers. It’s been some time since candidates have had to weigh the pros and cons of job opportunities, and it’s a welcome data point that may point to enough slack being taken out of the labor markets and more industries entering back into hiring mode – even if cautiously. 

Time will tell, but for now, one thing continues to be true: If you’re a company with strategic hiring needs, it’s important to act decisively during the hiring process to acquire talent before another company does. As a candidate who is active in their job search, specialized skill sets in the IT and digital domains continue to be highly coveted, even if it takes more patience today to land your next role.  

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