Unemployment Rises Slightly, Job Growth Still Strong in February Jobs Report

The image shows a tech worker, who is one of the more in-demand jobs in teh economy despite layoffs.

Here’s our assessment of the March 2023 jobs report

The Bureau of Labor Statistics Friday released the jobs report for February 2023, noting that the United States economy added 311,000 jobs during the month. The number came in higher than economists predicted for the second month in a row—though the February number was nearly 200,000 jobs lower than the January report.

The jobs report showed the strongest growth in the leisure and hospitality industry, and other jobs growth was reported in healthcare, professional and business services, and construction.

Along with the jobs number, the BLS said unemployment still rose from 3.4% to 3.6%—still an extremely low number and one that indicates, along with a strong addition of jobs, the economy may not be in a recession. Part of the reason for this increase is reportedly due to more workers—especially aged 25 to 54—re-entering the workforce in search of a job.

Janet Yellen, the U.S. Treasury Secretary, said the jobs report showed a positive outlook for the U.S. economy. “What we’re seeing here is a continued very strong labor market putting Americans back to work,” Yellen said.

The February jobs report comes after a couple of other key economic indicators were also released this week:

  • Job openings dropped by 400,000 from December 2022 to January 2023 (though job openings still far outnumber available workers)
  • Jobless claims increased week-over-week by 21,000
  • Wages grew just 0.2%—the smallest increase month-over-month in a year
  • The Federal Reserve is expected to raise interest rates higher than previously anticipated

Overall, experts say that the economy showed strong job growth but not an increase in wages. Inflation is also projected to decrease year-over-year from 6.4% to closer to 6%. That consumer report comes out Tuesday, March 14.

How Can Hiring Managers Fill Positions?

A persistent trend still exists across many industries: there are still more open job openings than there are workers to fill them. Some of the most common reasons hiring managers cite as they fight to fill seats include:

  • Wages are high
  • Many employees want to work remotely
  • There’s a skills gap between what the job needs and the available talent

Naturally, these are all tied together. Higher wages can be held out for by people with more in-demand skills. Employees who want to work full time and remotely often are ones who have more sought-after skills, like coding, digital communication, and data analysis. (In early February 2023, Insight Global CEO Bert Bean said in a CNBC article that he was seeing “’overwhelming demand’ for software engineers, full-stack developers, data scientists, cloud architects and other similar, highly specialized roles” at small- and mid-sized tech companies. These are mostly positions that require those highly coveted tech skills.)

So, what can hiring managers do?

Here are three tips:

  • Invest in upskilling and reskilling: Upskilling and reskilling are key ways to close a skills gap and fill job positions. This takes investments in both time and money—time from managers and leadership to develop and plan and enact it, and money from the company to offer reimbursement for certifications, college tuition, and more. It will also take effort to let your employees know these programs are available.
  • Assess how often you need employees in the office: Face-to-face time is invaluable for many managers and employees. But so is a work-life balance. When looking to fill positions—and when assessing positions you already have—how much work from your office space is required? And how much is too much? Finding a balance between these two options may attract more candidates to positions and help with the retention of current employees.
  • Get creative with how you’re searching talent: How do you typically find candidates for a job? Do you advertise on LinkedIn? Have you posted a job on Reddit before? Have you partnered with a staffing firm—a company whose primary purpose is filling seats? If it’s been a struggle to fill positions, get creative. There are always new ways to find talent.

The labor market and economy are still strong. Despite layoffs across the tech industry, there is still job growth across many industries and companies. So, if you’re in the trenches in the war for talent, Insight Global can help. Let us know your job needs below!

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