Monthly Jobs Report: Monster’s Hiring Snapshot

It’s the summer slowdown we all saw coming—in August, job numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that hiring decelerated. Following strong gains of 526,000 in July, employment grew by 315,000 jobs last month, on par with Wall Street predictions that hovered around 318,000. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate ticked up to 3.7% as companies laid off workers amid inflation.

Despite this weaker growth, employment gains were seen in a number of industries, including business and professional services, healthcare, retail, and more. Here’s a breakdown of the latest job numbers along with key takeaways to help employers plan for the months ahead.

Where Are All the Workers?

Amid ongoing labor shortages, the BLS monthly jobs report showed a sign of relief: more workers joined—or rejoined—the workforce in August. According to the report, the labor force participation rate rose 0.3% to 62.4% last month. However, it is still 1% shy of where it was in February 2020.

“While we are only 1% below pre-pandemic labor force participation, we are almost 5% below the highs of the early 2000s,” says Monster Economist Giacomo Santangelo. “A large part of that may be the retirements of the Baby Boomers, which frees up jobs for younger workers, but remember the Boomer generation leaves a large hole to fill.”

That 1% gap may continue to close in the months ahead. Last month, candidate searches were up nearly 9% on Monster. As more workers enter the workforce, Monster data reveals the types of positions that candidates are focusing their job search efforts on. Over the past month, the top ten keyword searches on Monster include:

  • Work from home
  • Administrative assistant
  • Part-time
  • Remote
  • Customer service
  • Sales
  • Data entry
  • Receptionist
  • Project manager
  • Retail

Employers Are Thinking About STEM Jobs

Leading the way in the BLS monthly jobs report, the business and professional services sector added 68,000 payrolls last month. Gains were seen largely in highly-skilled, STEM-related fields, including:

  • Computer systems design and related services (+14,000)
  • Management and technical consulting services (+13,000)
  • Architectural and engineering services (+10,000)
  • Scientific research and development services (+6,000)

Much of this growth may be attributed to corporate investments in STEM education as well as programs like the Girls STEM Academy and the National Society of Black Engineers. Santangelo says, “The growth in STEM that we are seeing in the labor market now is the return on the investments in STEM that we have been making for the last few years.”

Employers may continue to capitalize on this return in the months ahead as candidates search for STEM jobs on Monster. Within the business and professional services sector, two of the top candidate searches for STEM-related jobs include “project manager” and “scrum master.” A continued, long-term focus on STEM education will be crucial for employers to close the skills gap, grow, and innovate within today’s competitive marketplace.

Healthcare Hiring Continues to Make Headway

For the third consecutive month, the healthcare industry continued to make headway in the BLS monthly jobs report. Adding 48,000 payrolls in August, gains occurred in physicians’ offices, hospitals, and nursing and residential care facilities. These job numbers now put the sector only 37,000 (0.2%) away from reaching its pre-pandemic level, and one step closer to resolving the ongoing nursing shortage.

Monster data indicates similar findings, as employers continue to hire for skilled nursing roles. The top three healthcare jobs hiring right now include:

  • Registered nurses
  • Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses
  • Critical care nurses

However, despite these solid gains, the American Hospital Association makes it clear that employers are still facing workforce pressures and high inflationary costs. Santangelo explained to us how this will impact the healthcare industry. He says, “Given the rapid rate of price growth, job seekers require higher wages. These required increases in wages are expected to drive up the costs of healthcare services.”

Over the past year, the BLS monthly jobs report shows that healthcare hourly wages have increased 6.3%. As more candidates look for jobs, here’s where they are focusing their job searches within healthcare on Monster:

  • Registered nurse
  • Licensed practical/vocational nurse (LPN/LVN)
  • Nurse practitioner

Retail Hiring Rises Amid Back-to-School Shopping

With back-to-school shopping in full swing last month, retail employment increased as consumers stocked up on pens and pencils, bought books, and of course, purchased first-day-of-school outfits. According to the BLS monthly jobs report, retailers added 44,000 jobs in August, or 422,000 jobs over the past 12 months.

During the same month, retail job postings on Monster ticked up 1.5%. Top retail jobs hiring include:

  • Sales representatives
  • Retail salespersons
  • Cashiers

From the candidate side, top job searches within the category include:

  • Sales
  • Retail
  • Sales representative

Looking ahead, employers will soon be finding themselves in holiday hiring territory. Santangelo suggests that’s where things may get a bit foggy. “We are aware that retailers are in an uncomfortable position,” he says. “The supply chain issue of the last few years, mixed with the inflation of 2022, has retailers suffering from severe inventory losses. Meanwhile, inflationary pressures keep consumers away from retailers or lead them to change their patterns of consumption (i.e., bulk, discount stores, etc.), which is not good news for many retailers. The combination of inventory issues and inflation creates a great deal of uncertainty for retailers. Uncertainty is not good for the labor market.”

Remote Work Trends Down as COVID-19 Cases Decline

Taking a look at the COVID-19 landscape, the World Health Organization reported that global cases were down 24%, and deaths were down 6%, around the same timeframe that the BLS conducted its survey for the monthly jobs report. As such, it’s not surprising to see that the number of people who worked remotely due to COVID-19 declined as well from 7.1% to 6.5% in August.

“If people are looking for ‘normality,’ that means going back to in-person work,” Santangelo says. “As long as COVID cases fall and Monkeypox does not spread throughout the grade schools (necessitating parents to stay home and therefore work remotely), we should continue to see declining remote work.”

Similar to the BLS remote job numbers, Monster data shows that the number of remote job postings continued to decline (-13%) as well. This represents a major divide between candidates, who for the most part, want to keep working from home. On Monster, candidate searches for “work from home” was #1 overall and remote jobs #4 overall in August.

Wages Continue to Rise Amid Inflation

Employers continued to raise wages in August in a likely effort to keep up with inflation and retain talent amid the ongoing “Great Resignation.” According to the BLS monthly jobs report, average hourly wages rose ten cents for a total of $32.36. Over the past 12 months, wages have increased 5.2%, while consumer prices have risen 8.5%.

In an ideal scenario, the gap between wage and price increases would be much narrower. Santangelo predicts what will happen in the months ahead: “Consumer prices are unlikely to fall (that would be ‘deflation’),” he says. “What is more likely is that the rate at which consumer prices is rising will slow down and the rate at which wages is growing will catch up to it.” This is what the Federal Reserve hopes to accomplish by increasing interest rates even further, possibly to 4% or higher by the beginning of 2023.

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 October when we’ll release our next take on the monthly jobs report.