May Jobs Report: Economy Continues to Add Jobs As Uncertainty Lingers

Image: A leader mentoring an employee. Though the May jobs report showed strong job growth once again, there is still uncertainty about what lies ahead. Mentorship is one way to keep employees engaged and motivated.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday the United States economy added 339,000 jobs in May 2023, exceeding expectations by more than 100,000 jobs. The unemployment rate also rose to 3.7% from 3.4% in April, offering some mixed economic messages. 

Most of the job growth in May came from these industries:

It was also reported this week that job openings increased in April—offsetting a three-month decline—with most of the new job openings coming from the retail sector. The overall rate of open jobs to jobs filled remained steady at 6.1%, and the number of overall hires remained the same in April.

Some additional data from the jobs report and other economic reporting include:

  • Overall, job openings are down 16% from March 2022 (the peak post-2020).
  • The layoff rate dropped to 1% in April, showing a slowdown.
  • Employee quit rates dropped to 2.4%. Pre-pandemic averages were 2.3%, signaling fewer people are voluntarily leaving their jobs or job hopping.
  • Jobless claims rose slightly (by 2,000) to 232,000—lower than expected.
  • Private sector job hiring went up 278,000 jobs—which represents less growth than April 2023.
  • Private sector pay growth dropped another 1% year-over-year, too.
  • Both average weekly hours worked and hourly earnings year-over-year dipped slightly

This is a lot of data to take in. And sometimes, it can be too much. If you’re a hiring manager or a job seeker, what do you pay attention to?

Do you pay attention to any of it?

On a macro scale, it’s nice to know the general trends in the economy, but it can be all-consuming to think about these numbers on a day-to-day micro level.

Whether month-to-month there’s good news or less appealing news, Eli Doster, Chief Talent Officer at Insight Global, emphasizes that uncertain and stressful times are “a time to get closer with one another” within an organization, “because we’re in this together.”

“This is also a time to invest in the development of your people, because they need it more now than ever.”

Training and Mentorship Doesn’t Always Cost Money

Oftentimes, one of the first budgetary items that goes during uncertain economic times is the line item for training. But Doster says that even without those funds, managers and leaders can still invest elsewhere: with time.

“Even if it’s just me and my team, and I have zero training budget: I can still train my people,” Doster said.

“I can invest time in their development, I can lead classes myself, and I can mentor my people one-on-one and spend more time figuring out what they need to be as successful as possible in their role.”

You can help move the organization forward during an uncertain time because you’re focused on your people, he said.

But investing in someone isn’t the only way to give them the assurance they need to stay with and grow within your organization. Transparency about the situation could help, too.

During Uncertain Times, Be Transparent with Your People

“As a leader, we have a duty to be transparent with our people, because they know when we’re not,” Doster said.

People can tell when you’re being authentic, and they can tell when you’re not. Part of what may fuel concerns about the state of a team or organization is not knowing where someone stands.

“When you’re an employee, and you don’t know where you stand with regard to the safety of your job and your development, it’s a terrible place to be,” he continued. “People appreciate full transparency and honesty.”

Overall, though, Doster says managers and leaders can try to assure their people that times like these pass. Though uncertainty lingers over parts of the economy, “it’s a moment in time,” and no matter how long or short, transparency and togetherness will help organizations make it through to the other side.

Are You Looking for Top Talent Right Now?

Let us know your needs, and we can send you a list of quality vetted candidates in as little as one week.