The US economy is on fire, adding 336,000 jobs in September – surpassing expectations by a wide margin. This is a gain of approximately 227,000 over the prior 12 months. The unemployment rate remained steady at 3.8%, the lowest level since 2000. But what does this mean for workers and employers? The September jobs report, released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, showed that the US economy is still resilient despite the challenges posed by the Covid Delta variant, supply chain disruptions, and general labor shortages.
The job gains were broad and across several categories, with leisure and hospitality, government, health care, professional and technical services, and social assistance leading the charge.
- The leisure and hospitality sector, which took the hardest hit from the pandemic, seemed to be bouncing back by adding 96,000 jobs, well above its average monthly pace of 61,000 jobs over the past year. This suggests that consumer demand for travel, dining out, and entertainment is recovering as more people feel comfortable going out.
- The government sector saw a hefty boost in hiring, with 73,000 jobs added, above the average 47,000 over the past 12 months. Most of these jobs were in state government local education as schools reopened for in-person learning and hired more teachers and staff. The Federal government also added 16,000 jobs, most related to the 2023 Census.
- Hospitals, nursing and residential care facilities, ambulatory, and home health care services all increased their payrolls, reflecting the ongoing demand for health care services. This led to the growth of 39,000 jobs in the health care sector.
- Professional, scientific, and technical services saw a rise of 29,000 jobs, mostly in computer systems design and related services. This sector has been one of the most resilient during the pandemic, as many workers in this field can work remotely and have benefited from the digital transformation of businesses.
- Social assistance sector-related jobs increased by 25,000, primarily in child day care services. This sector was also hit hard during the height of the pandemic and has been struggling to find enough workers to meet the demand as more parents return to the office.
- Other key labor force metrics were steady. For example, average workweek hours remained at 34.4 hours. The labor force participation rate similarly did not move from 62.8%. Perhaps a step backwards was women aged 25 to 54 dropping from 77.8% to 77.4% from August numbers. According to CNN.com, the childcare stabilization grant program ended on September 30, so that may have impacted working mothers. The grant supported more than 220,000 childcare programs, affecting as many as 9.6 million children, according to the federal Administration for Children and Families.
The implications of an exceptionally hot job market include:
- Workers, including contingent workers, will have more options in a strong labor market.
- Some of the labor shortages that have plagued many industries are easing up, lessening the burden on the existing workers as more people are joining or rejoining the labor force.
- The hot job market also has implications for employers because they continue to compete for workers in a tight labor market. With increased competition, companies may need to rely more heavily on finding talent through temporary workers and independent contractors to stay resilient and agile.
- Companies may need to be more flexible in their requirements regarding work locations and hours to attract the talent needed.
- Companies must also demand more of their recruiters, search firms, and staffing agencies regarding sources of talent.