All eyes are on the tightening labor market as the cost of living continues to increase at its fastest pace in 40 years. The latest job numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) monthly jobs report show that hiring continued to grow by 428,000 last month, while unemployment remained near pre-pandemic levels at 3.6%.
Monster’s Economist Giacomo Santangelo weighs in: “The labor market has almost reached the pre-pandemic level,” he says. “This is the moment, I think, everyone has been waiting for. So many people seemed to be banking that if we could get unemployment down to 1st quarter 2020 levels, everything would be fine. What we are finding now is while the unemployment situation has improved on a macroeconomic scale, individuals are facing rising prices that are threatening their standard of living.”
As concerns over money heighten, Monster data shows changes in behavior from job seekers over the past month with searches for “part time” work increasing 14%. Here’s a breakdown of the latest job numbers along with key takeaways to help employers plan for the months ahead.
The Full Scoop on Part-Time Jobs and Unemployment
The unemployment rate remained unchanged in April, just slightly above its pre-pandemic level at 3.6%. Meanwhile, another measure of unemployment that includes discouraged workers and those holding part-time jobs for economic reasons edged higher to 7%. Amid high inflation, it’s possible that both of these job numbers may increase in the months to come.
“When unemployment is high, inflation is low,” Santangelo told Monster in a recent blog post. “The problem that this creates is that in order to fight inflation, unemployment has to go up.” While this doesn’t necessarily mean hiring will stop altogether, it could mean that employers and candidates will change the way they approach hiring and the job search amid inflation.
For employers, hiring part-time, contract, or gig workers can be more cost-effective than hiring full-time help. Over the past month, part-time job postings were up 2% on Monster, with the biggest monthly increases for:
- Cashiers (+27%)
- Security guards (+27%)
- Cooks (+21%)
For candidates, a part-time job may help supplement an income in order to afford the rising cost of goods. “Part time” was the #2 most searched keyword by candidates over the past month, with 14% more searches conducted on Monster.
Wages and Interest Rates Rise Amid Inflation
Amid inflation, the cost of goods has risen 7.9% over the past year, the sharpest spike since 1982. As prices go up, up, up, a ripple effect has occurred. Employers have had to raise wages, with average hourly earnings up 5.5% over the past year—nearly double the pre-pandemic average of 3%. Interest rates have gone up as well, with the Federal Reserve raising its federal fund rate by a half-percent, its largest hike since 2000.
“As the cost of living increases, the Federal Reserve is ratcheting-up interest rates,” Santangelo says. “This increase in rates is expected to adversely affect the labor market. As firms face higher borrowing costs, it is expected that they will hire less. As consumers face higher rates, it is expected that they will more desperately need money, meaning they will be less picky about the jobs they take.”
The Great Disconnect on Return-to-Office Plans
It’s like oil and water. Companies are telling workers to come back on site. Employees say otherwise. On Monster, candidate searches for “remote” were up 22% and “work from home” up 9% over the past month. Not to mention, the Monster Future of Work report found that workplace flexibility is one of the top five priorities for candidates when looking for jobs.
Yet despite workers’ wishes, employers are moving further away from remote work with every passing month. Over the past month, the number of remote jobs hiring on Monster decreased by 3%, a sign that employers are becoming less open to the idea of working from home. Likewise, the BLS monthly jobs report showed that the number of remote workers continued to drop from 10% to 7.7% in April.
With this “great disconnect” between employers and candidates, businesses may be finding themselves in a bend-or-break situation. Employers will need to weigh their options to determine which type of work model—remote, hybrid, or in-person—is right for them.
Hiring Slows in Leisure and Hospitality
With summer on the horizon, it’s not surprising that the leisure and hospitality sector continued to lead the way in the BLS monthly jobs report. But with gains of only 78,000 jobs in April, hiring in restaurants, bars, and hotels was slower than in recent months. It’s almost as if the industry is holding its breath to see if summer travel plans will actually transpire.
Santangelo says, “Leisure and hospitality are affected by three things: gas prices, inflation, and Covid. Provided these three issues are under control, the summer should see upticks in hiring.”
While Covid cases continue to decline, Monster data suggests that we may see an uptick in hiring here in May. With the number of active job postings in leisure and hospitality increasing by 3% over the past month on Monster, some of the top jobs hiring include:
- Combined food preparation and serving workers, including fast food
- Maids and housekeeping cleaners
- Waiters and waitresses
- Baggage porters and bellhops
Candidates also seem eager to shake up some cocktails, whip up some delicious meals, and get back to work. The top keywords being searched by candidates in this field right now include:
Auto Manufacturers Fuel Job Growth Amid Chip Shortage
Manufacturing transportation equipment and machinery has proven difficult amid microchip shortages. Ford reported a 10.5% drop in sales in April, while 33,000 vehicles were recently cut from automakers’ global production plans.
Yet despite these challenges, BLS job numbers show that employment in manufacturing grew by 55,000 last month. Monster data also shows that employers are continuing to hire for a variety of positions, including:
- Sales representatives, wholesale and manufacturing
- First line supervisors of production and operating workers
- Production workers, all other
Looking ahead, Santangelo says, “With supply chain issues, all firms must look to what is reasonable when it comes to hiring.” But for manufacturers that are ready to hire, Monster data shows that there are candidates looking for work. In fact, “manufacturing” was in the top 10 overall keyword searches by candidates last month. Other top job searches in manufacturing include:
Hiring Still Full Speed Ahead in Transportation and Warehousing
Month after month, employment in transportation and warehousing has grown as a result of the supply chain bubble being resolved as well as from an uptick in consumer demand. Last month was no different, with the BLS monthly jobs report showing steady gains of 52,000 in transportation and warehousing in April.
So, can we expect similar growth next month? Santangelo says, “We can hope it will continue; however, its pace is determined by inflation, rising interest rates, and Covid.”
At least for now, Monster data shows that employers are still looking for people to help get things where they need to go. Some of the top active job postings this month in transportation and warehousing include:
- Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers
- Laborers and freight, stock, and material movers, hand
- Light truck or delivery services drivers
- Motor vehicle operators
- Material moving workers, all other
From the candidate side, some of the top transportation and warehousing positions being searched on Monster include:
- Warehouse worker
- Truck driver
Stay Tuned for the Next Monthly Jobs Report
Monster aims to provide employers with the insight needed to move forward. As you plan your hiring strategy over the next month, check out Monster Intelligence for a deeper dive into data and what it will mean for your business
We’ll see you again in June when we’ll release our next take on the monthly jobs report.