Despite record numbers of people quitting their jobs, the US jobs market has been struggling over the past few months. Many sectors have experienced severe staff shortages and employers have struggled to fill vacancies.
But the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) had some promising news to share today.
Not only did BLS revise the September total non-farm payroll employment figures from a worrying 194,000 to a more acceptable 312,000, but it found that the US saw a significant increase of 531,000 in October.
This beat estimates from the Dow Jones and brought the average monthly job increase in 2021 to 582,000.
In addition, the unemployment rate declined from 4.8% in September to 4.6% in October.
This brings the number of unemployed people in the US to 7.4 million. While this is promising and unemployment is trending downwards, this is still higher than pre-pandemic figures for February 2020 of 3.5% and 5.7 million respectively.
The number of long-term unemployed – the BLS defines this as people who have been jobless for six months or more – declined by 357,000 to 2.3 million. This remains 1.2 million higher than February 2020.
In other good news, average hourly earnings also increased by 11 cents to $30.96. This brings a wage increase of 4.9% over the past year.
Reasons for optimism
This report allies many economist concerns about rising inflation, as well as a severe labor shortage.
Indeed’s economic research director Nick Bunker told CNBC: “This is the kind of recovery we can get when we are not sidelined by a surge in COVID-19 cases.
“If this is the sort of job growth we will see in the next several months, we are on a solid path.”
There had been particular concern over the past few months about the food and drinking establishment element of the leisure and hospitality industry – so much so that Indeed and OpenTable teamed up to help restaurants attract new talent to fill vacancies.
However, October saw “welcome gains” in this sector, as well as transport, manufacturing, and business services, in the words of Economic Policy Institute’s senior economist Elise Gould.
With these welcome gains on top of significant improvements early in the summer, the recovery appears to getting back on track. That said, significant job shortfalls remain, especially in leisure and hospitality as well as both private and public sector education employment. pic.twitter.com/n8CXCESJVf
— Elise Gould (@eliselgould) November 5, 2021
The leisure and hospitality industry saw a 164,000 increase in jobs in October, compared to only 74,000 in September.
In October, 119,000 of that increase was in the food and drinking establishments sector, whereas it had changed very little from the August to September BLS reports.
Although the data suggests there is cause for optimism that the US is recovering in the run-up to Christmas and the new year, employers must not see this as an excuse to take your eye off the ball and stop ensuring their employee experience is top notch.
COVID-19 has changed employees’ views of their worth and what they want out of the workplace.
While industries might rebound, those individual employers who fail to do well by their employees will continue to struggle with staff shortages amid the ‘Great Resignation’.
Remember, recruiting staff is much more expensive than nurturing your existing talent.