Job Market Update: March 2018

What's the latest with the unemployment rate? We've got the details and the takeaways.

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Unemployment Rate

  • Unemployment Rate

    4.1%

  • Change from Last Month

    0%

5 Things to know about March’s job report

The unemployment rate was once again 4.1% in March of 2018, with an estimated 103,000 jobs added. If the unemployment rate had ticked down to 4% in March, this would have been the first time since 2000.

This was an expected slowdown after February’s impressive growth (the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s revised February’s gains up to 326,000,) although March misses economist’s predictions of around 185,000 gains. Regardless, this marks the 90th consecutive month of job gains. This is a record-breaking number for as long as we’ve been measuring unemployment data (since the ‘30’s) according to CNN Money, and is the third-longest expansion in US history (following the ‘60’s and ‘90’s.)

Wages, which slowed down in February after an uptick in December and January, rose by 8-cents in March, and have increased by 71-cents over the year, bringing growth to 2.7%. This begs us to ask the one question on everyone’s lips come every Jobs Report Friday in 2018: are wages finally starting to rise consistently?

Our Vice President, Jason Guggisberg, spoke to The New York Times about this, stating that eventually, employers will have to raise pay to attract and retain workers, though they’ve been resistant so far.

“It’s a standoff, almost, on wages. Who’s going to go first?”

Here are 5 Other Things you need to know about March’s job report:

1. Investor Fears

The Federal Reserve raised interest rates last month – the sixth time since the financial crisis. This is good news for the economy, as is this month’s wage growth, though investors have been less than enthusiastic, as we’ve seen from the up-and-down reactions in the Dow Jones. Wage growth raises fears of inflation, as does the Federal Reserve hinting at raising interest rates 3 times this year instead of just twice.

2. Trade Wars

The manufacturing sector grew by 22,000 jobs in March, which is in line with our top predictions for manufacturing in 2018, and brings the overall industry growth to around 232,000 in the past year (durable goods accounted for 75% of all job gains.) That said, this week’s trade tensions with China have experts worried about how this could affect the industry in the months ahead. 

3. Labor Force Participants

The labor force participation rate was around 63%– or 800,000 – in March, the most in the last 15 years. According to ABC News, this could be due to a rising number of working-age Americans finding work, reversing the trend from the recession when many of the unemployed grew discourage and stopped looking for work. Other research hints this could also be due to Americans nearing retirement-age deciding to stay in the workforce longer, or those who have retired returning to the workforce – a trend being called “unretirement.”

4. Winter Weather

Construction was down 15,000 jobs in March, following a large gain in February of around 65,000. The industry has added an impressive 185,000 jobs in the past 4 months alone. With impending winter weather affecting a large percentage of the country, economists think this could be to blame for this industry’s lag in job growth.

5. Education Aside

The unemployment rate for those with less than a high-school diploma has been falling sharply since mid-2016, according to The Wall Street Journal. Meanwhile hiring for those with a college degree has essentially plateaued. Companies are clearly rethinking their hiring requirements, and weighing whether education really factors into a worker’s ability to be trained to complete a job.

 

 

Jobs Added

103,000

  • Manufacturing

    22,000

  • Construction

    15,000

  • Retail Trade

    -4,000

  • Transportation & Warehousing

    9,800

  • Professional & Business Services

    33,000

  • Leisure and Hospitality

    5,000

  • Education & Health Services

    25,000

  • Financial Activities

    2,000

Job Growth by Industry

March 2018

In Your Region

Feb. 2018

The Bureau of Labor Statistics breaks down the unemployment rate geographically, one month behind its national breakdown, so this month we’re reviewing February’s regional performance.

The Midwest had the lowest unemployment rate at 3.5%, while the South and West tied for the highest at 4.3%.

West

West

  • Unemployment Rate

    4.3%

  • Change from Last Month

    0%

Lowest and highest unemployment rates

Hawaii (2.1%) / Alaska (7.3%)

Midwest

Midwest

  • Unemployment Rate

    3.5%

  • Change from Last Month

    -.1%

Lowest and highest unemployment rates

North Dakota (2.6%) / Michigan (4.8%)

Northeast

Northeast

  • Unemployment Rate

    4%

  • Change from Last Month

    0%

Lowest and highest unemployment rates

New Hampshire (2.6%) / Pennsylvania (4.8%)

West

South

  • Unemployment Rate

    4.3%

  • Change from Last Month

    0%

Lowest and highest unemployment rates

Tennessee (3.4%) / District of Columbia (5.7%)

Why This is So Important

From the climbing labor force participation rate, to the rise of workers without high school degrees finding employment, organizations are rethinking the traditional talent pools they look at, and scouting talent that may have been sidelined in the past.

Additionally, though wage growth remains lower than economists have seen historically when the unemployment rate is this low, we still predict these will need to rise within most US companies in order to attract and retain needed workers.

On April 18, 2018, we’ll be releasing our annual edition of this report, called The 2018 U.S. Workforce Report. We surveyed over 1,000 American workers on these exact topics – untraditional talent pools, interview processes, workplace values and retention techniques – to uncover the mindset of today’s current American worker.

From their feelings on pay, to what would keep them at one company long-term, the report will provide insight into the behaviors, trends and habits that make up today’s workforce. Because attracting, retaining and engaging today’s talent starts with one thing – listening to them.

To ensure you’re notified when this year’s report is released, sign up for our email communications below. In the meantime, you can read last year’s report, Best-in-Class Workforce Management Insights – where we surveyed 500 C-Suite executives on their workforce best practices – here. 

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