December Jobs Report: Slow and Steady Hiring Wins the Race

December Jobs Report (image of graphs and data).

On Friday, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the U.S. economy added 216,000 jobs in December, an unexpected hike from the previous month and surpassing expectations.

Some key data to take away from the report:

  • The unemployment rate remains steady at 3.7%.
  • Government (+52,000), healthcare (+38,000) and construction (+17,000) were trending sectors, while employment in transportation and warehousing decreased by 23,000.
  • This was the 36th consecutive month of jobs gains.
  • Altogether, the U.S. economy added roughly 2.7 million jobs over the past year.

“The labor market remains tight, but supply and demand conditions continue to come into better balance,” said Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell at a press conference last month. With the Federal Reserve still successfully maintaining a reduction in inflation pressures with minimal threats of falling into a recession, there are now forecasts of a sought after economic “soft landing” (where the economy can avoid significant job loss while settling into a calmer pace).

Other key jobs analyses and economic data from December’s report and the BLS include:

  • Private payroll wages saw a 15-cent increase (0.4 percent). Average earnings have increased by 4.1 percent over the last 12 months.
  • Professional, scientific, and technical services continued to trend, adding an average of 22,000 jobs per month in 2023.
  • Since recovering from pandemic-related job losses, retail has shown little change. Gains appear to have been offset by job losses in department stores.
  • November saw a decrease in job openings for transportation, warehousing, and utilities (-128,000), offering some insights into last month’s decline in hires for those industries.
  • November’s net gain of 199,000 jobs was revised by the BLS, lowering it to 173,000.

What to Expect for 2024

The economy appears to be looking up according to economists and total separations are going down. While we aren’t seeing a burst of hiring surges, employers aren’t conducting as many mass layoffs, either. With the job market stabilizing, it’s essential to know which industries to lean into or how to find top talent and avoid attrition in this economic climate.

Hiring managers may consider prioritizing upskilling of current workers and looking for ways to stand out among competitors to attract the best candidates.

Check out these industries that are expected to grow exponentially in 2024, with ample opportunity for long-term placement and growth.

  • Healthcare
  • E-commerce
  • Construction
  • Data Scientists
  • Cybersecurity
  • Biotechnology

Also of note, an update on potential interest rate cuts is planned for the end of January—two days before the first jobs report of 2024 is scheduled to be released.