April Jobs Report: Market Remains Strong for Job Seekers

An image of hospitality workers, who represent one of the industries with the largest jobs growth in April.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday the United States economy added 253,000 jobs in April 2023—nearly 100,000 jobs more than the revised number for March 2023 (165,000 jobs). The tally was also about 75,000 more jobs than projected for April.

Some key data points:

  • The unemployment rate matched an all-time low at 3.4%.
  • Black unemployment continued to drop, reaching a new all-time low of 4.7%. The gap between white and Black unemployment shrunk, too.
  • Layoffs rose in March 2023, and quit rates dropped, too, meaning more employed workers are voluntarily staying put at their job.
  • Job openings contracted in March 2023 to their lowest rate since May 2021.
  • Wages rose 4.4% in April 2023 year-over-year, 0.2% higher than projections and slightly higher than March. Average hourly earnings rose 0.5% month-over-month.

The labor market for job seekers still remains strong, and this report “continues to show just how sticky wage inflation is and how tight the labor market still is,” Lawrence Dearth, Insight Global’s President of Recruiting, said. The strong jobs number, he explained, shows that there are still labor shortages throughout the economy, including industries and jobs like:

The April jobs report showed the largest job gains in hospitality, healthcare, education, business services, and government, with smaller gains—or decreases—in areas like manufacturing and engineering.

So how can business find talent and fill these gaps?

Look Internally

Dearth says one solution to filling those shortages, especially for small- to medium-sized businesses, is internal. Pivot employees to where your business is seeing demand.

“You’ve got to look at your internal workforce and say, ‘do I have my people supporting the growth engines?’” he said.

Insight Global, for example, is shifting more than 60 recruiters to focus on different industries. The recruiters are moving from covering their usual industry to ones that are experiencing growth or to ones with labor shortages, healthcare and engineering.

This might mean reskilling and upskilling employees, or it might mean using an employee’s specific skills in a different area of business.

“We’re always taking time to ask, ‘where are we experiencing a lot of demand?’ Let’s make sure that we’re retaining our people, setting them up for success, and be a little opportunistic. We’ve wanted to do some of these things for a while, and we don’t have as high of opportunity cost now. With demand lessening in some sectors, it allows us to grow in our expertise and market share in others if we pivot well.”

Try a Staffing Agency

Another solution is using a staffing company to identify talent and fill roles, especially if you’re missing out on business right now. In “wonky” economic conditions like the United States has right now, where it feels like there are rolling recessions by industry, a business might not have a robust recruiting team ready to capture talent who will help the business grow over the next six months.

A staffing company can be particularly useful for businesses that 1) are looking to fill roles for temporary projects, or 2) want the flexibility of a worker on a contract before offering them a full-time position.

“With the residual strength of the underlying economy, unemployment and demand for goods and services, if you don’t have enough people to execute on the work, you will lose market share.” Lawrence said. “And you don’t know how long that growth is going to be around for. So, you have to bring talented people in with urgency.”

No Matter What, Treat Your People Well

And, at the end of the day, Dearth says companies will benefit in the long run if they treat their people well during uncertain economic times. We conducted a survey in 2022 that showed nearly 80 percent of workers were worried about their job security if a recession occurs. Being transparent about your recession plans will help ease some of these fears, and it will help attract talent from outside the organization.

“You’ve got to highlight your values and your loyalty,” Dearth said. “Some candidates are concerned about being last one in, first one out. They also might be a little bit jaded if they’ve been laid off before, and they want to see loyalty out of companies.”

People can show loyalty on their resumes, Dearth said, and companies can show that with how they operate during hard time.

“Loyalty is very valuable currency.”

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