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  • Justin Dixon

How About that Labor Market?

The gloomy predictions about an economic recession seem to be on hold for the time being. The labor market remains strong and unemployment is low. While job growth is lower than what we saw in 2022 and 2021, it is still higher than pre-pandemic levels.

In May, employers added 339,000 jobs according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That is higher than the 294,000 jobs added in April, and far better than the 190,000 jobs that Dow Jones predicted for the month. Job openings climbed over the 10 million mark instead of cooling down as predicted, and initial weekly unemployment claims stayed about the same.

Professional and business services like accountants, lawyers, and engineers added 43,000 jobs, which is the biggest gain across industries. Ironically, the people who help others get jobs were among the highest group of layoffs, recruiters, career coaches, and human resource professionals.

It is taking unemployed people longer to find jobs right now. The number of people unemployed for 15 to 26 weeks rose from 179,000 to 858,000.

There was also a rise in the unemployment rate, from 3.4% to 3.7%, as a result of layoffs and those who completed temporary jobs. This seems to contradict the jobs information, but the unemployment rate and the job growth numbers are the result of two different surveys and sometimes conflict.

How does this impact the newest cohort of workers graduating in 2023?

Graduation season in recent years has been fraught with uncertain job prospects. This year’s graduating class may have a more positive experience. They are graduating into a strong labor market for young workers.

The youth unemployment rate is at a 70-year low. Pandemic-driven labor shortages forced employers to hire younger workers whom they would have previously overlooked. More than 88% of graduates seeking jobs are confident that they will receive job offers shortly after graduation.

Graduates need to be adaptable, though, depending on the industry they are preparing to enter.

What are the implications for recruiters and hiring managers?

We have written recently about hiring in a tight labor market. Hiring strategies need to be revisited often when the hiring landscape is in flux. Being flexible with requirements for open positions and considering candidates in untapped talent pools can provide capable, productive new hires.

Keeping an open door to good employees who have left for other opportunities is a win for both sides. If the new opportunity doesn’t work out as expected, they may return with renewed enthusiasm for the position and company that welcomes them back.

Partnering with a professional talent acquisition specialist will help your team hire for your open positions. They bring knowledge of the labor market and what job seekers want from their careers. The partnership can add expertise to your hiring team when you need it most. In a tight labor market, that is a winning strategy.

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