Recruiters nationwide probably released a collective sigh of disappointment on the first Friday in October 2015. That’s when the Bureau of Labor Statistics issued its report on hiring and job growth for the month of September, and the results weren’t as rosy as many were hoping for. But raw numbers aren’t everything in understanding the ups and downs of the U.S. job market. Let’s take a closer look between the lines of these sobering statistics and what last month’s jobs report means for hiring.
What the Numbers Say
The bad news, and the item that hit the headlines most dramatically, is the fact that September job growth failed to live up to expectations, with only 142,000 new jobs created — a disappointing end to an already-sleepy summer. The silver lining, of course, is that we still haven’t had a negative month since 2010, so the big picture still indicates relatively stable job growth as opposed to an outright catastrophe. But the timing of this underperformance has spooked people due to the job growth stagnation and economic uncertainty in China and other major markets. Hourly earnings are relatively stagnant on average as well, which means that those employed aren’t making the significant disposable income that would help prolong the already-strong support provided by consumer spending.
The health of consumer spending brings up another interesting point. Certain corners of the job market are doing better than others, notably the retail and leisure/hospitality sectors. In fact, these two sectors added nearly 60,000 new jobs all by themselves. But the diversity in the job market continues to plummet. The current index rating of 52.9 indicates that only 2.9 percent of industries are growing instead of shrinking, forcing the few positive growth sectors to carry more of the load.
Missing in Action: Job Seekers
Overall, the nations’ 5.1 percent unemployment rate seems reassuringly healthy, at least in the context of the last several years. But there’s another troubling statistic that’s contributing that low number — the size of the current labor force. Fewer Americans aged 16 and older were looking for work in September 2015 than in any month since 1977, at a mere 62.4 percent. These numbers can’t be entirely accounted for by the large proportion of baby boomers reaching retirement age; one in four working-age adults appears to have given up the search for a well-paying full-time job. Fewer part-time workers (the “underemployed”) are holding out full-time jobs, possibly because they just don’t recognize the opportunities that do exist in certain sectors.
Can Recruiting Make a Difference?
What do these trends imply in terms of recruitment tools and practices? First of all, job board operators may need to recognize and focus on the hotter pockets of hiring to be found in specific industries. Catering specifically to employers in these industries through targeted marketing probably makes good strategic sense right now.
The fact that so many of those not being hired have apparently given up on the job market could mean that employers’ current recruitment efforts don’t have sufficient reach to recapture these individuals’ attention. By offering extended services such as placement on a wider number of boards (including niche boards) and/or social media saturation, job board providers could help employers do a better job of reaching those former job seekers and turning them back into current job seekers.
As you can see, the jobs picture in America is more complex than might appear from a cursory glance at news headlines or report statistics. Your best bet is to make sure your job board is optimized to servers employers and job seekers alike by connecting them as effectively as possible. The jobs are still out there — and operators of recruitment resources can play a vital role in helping those jobs get filled.
How can job boards and/or recruiters do a better job connecting passive job seekers with employers?