October’s chill seemed to have brought a cold front to the job market last month. Taking a sharp decline following September’s strong gain of 297,000, the latest U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) monthly jobs report showed that hiring decelerated in October with the addition of only 150,000 payrolls. While gains were seen in healthcare, government, and construction, losses were experienced in the manufacturing, information, and transportation and warehousing sectors. The unemployment rate also ticked up slightly to 3.9%.
Looking ahead, however, Monster data indicates that this slowdown may only be temporary with the number of active job listings on site up nearly 13% over the past month. Here’s our breakdown of the latest job numbers along with key takeaways to help employers plan for the months ahead.
Strikes Continue to Affect Job Numbers
Once again, workers’ strikes affected employment totals in the BLS monthly jobs report. In October, strikes hit the manufacturing and information sectors the hardest, resulting in a combined 44,000 net loss in jobs.
Comparatively, 2023 has seen an influx of workers on strike, from the recently settled SAG-AFTRA and WGA strike to the ongoing Kaiser Permanente and United Auto Workers strikes. This increase in strike activity, Monster Economist Giacomo Santangelo says, “can be attributed to a combination of factors, including the demand for higher pay in the face of rising inflation, staffing shortages leading to employee burnout in critical sectors like healthcare, and the apparent realization that the discontent that workers may feel is shared across the labor market, inspiring organized action to address concerns and improve their compensation and working conditions.”
Healthcare Hiring Remains Resilient
Despite the ongoing Kaiser Permanente strike, healthcare hiring remained resilient during the month of October. On par with its average monthly gain, the sector added a solid 58,000 payrolls in ambulatory health care services, hospitals, and nursing and residential care facilities, per the BLS monthly jobs report.
Likewise, on Monster, active healthcare job postings are up nearly 16% over the past month with listings for registered nurses #1 overall on site. Other top healthcare jobs hiring on Monster include:
- Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses (#9 overall)
- Nursing assistants
How has healthcare hiring managed to stay strong amid workers’ strikes, compared to other industries? Santangelo says, “The essential nature of healthcare ensures a constant demand for services, regardless of economic conditions.” The aging Baby Boomer population and ongoing labor shortages worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic, he says, also drives demand for healthcare workers.
Meanwhile, from a candidate perspective, Santangelo says job security and long-term prospects continue to attract more workers to this sector. Over the past month, some of the top healthcare jobs searched by candidates on Monster were for:
- Registered nurses
- Medical assistants
- Certified nursing assistants (CNAs)
Transportation and Warehousing Sheds More Jobs
Ahead of the holiday season and major hiring announcements from companies like Amazon and UPS, the transportation and warehousing industry cut 12,000 payrolls in October. Over the past year, the sector has shown little change in employment.
“Despite the flourishing holiday hiring and the continuous growth of ecommerce, transportation and warehousing sector employment may not surge in conjunction for a variety of reasons,” Santangelo says. “The adoption of automation to enhance productivity, coupled with labor shortages, can limit the sector’s ability to scale-up employment. Ongoing supply chain disruptions, economic uncertainty, and a focus on operational efficiency may also contribute. Another trend we have been seeing in recent months is firms attempting to streamline operations and maximize the potential of their existing labor force.”
Not included in October’s job numbers were the recent layoffs announced by ocean carrier Maersk, which will leave 10,000 people out of work across the globe. Santangelo warns this will likely have repercussions on the global supply chain and labor demand. “There exists a close link between transportation demand and global economic health,” he says. “Strong transportation demand typically aligns with a thriving global economy, while a slowdown may signal economic challenges in the near future.”
However, at least for the time being, Monster data suggests that hiring actually may pick up, with the number of transportation and warehousing active job listings up nearly 40% over the past month. Top jobs hiring on Monster include:
- Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers (#3 overall)
- Light truck or delivery services drivers (#10 overall)
- Taxi drivers and chauffeurs
Meanwhile, on the candidate side, these job losses may be catapulting job searches within the category. Top jobs searched within the transportation and warehousing industry over the past month include:
- Delivery driver
- Forklift operator
Last Year’s Wage Gains are Slowing Down
Wages continued to climb in October, albeit at a slower pace. According to the BLS monthly jobs report, average hourly earnings rose by 7 cents (0.2%) last month. Since its peak in April 2022, wage growth has been declining, down from 5.9% to 4.1% in October year-over-year.
“Last year’s robust wage growth was partly due to the unique circumstances of the early pandemic recovery when many workers returned to their jobs after layoffs, creating a surge in wages compared to the previous year’s depressed levels,” Santangelo says. “As the labor market stabilizes and nears ‘full employment,’ the incentive for employers to raise wages decreases, resulting in a more modest year-over-year wage growth.”
End-of-Year Hiring May Get a Boost
While the BLS job numbers were down in October, Monster data indicates that hiring may pick up as we near year’s end. Over the past month, the number of active job listings on Monster increased by nearly 13%. Top jobs hiring right now include:
- Registered nurses
- Sales representatives, wholesale and manufacturing
- Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers
- General and operations managers
- Stock clerks
- Customer service representatives
- Maintenance and repair workers
- Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses
- Light truck or delivery service drivers
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’s guide for managing amid uncertainty.
We’ll see you again in December when we’ll release our next take on the monthly jobs report.