April 2024 BLS Employment Situation — Skilled Trades Sustained Toil Drives Growth

Last week, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released the April 2024 Employment Situation, their comprehensive overview of how job growth and shrinkage month-over-month can be used as supplemental context for economic conditions. The report showed that there were only 175,000 jobs added to the labor market last month, a significantly lower amount of growth than we’ve seen in recent months.

The unemployment rate, which measures the number of workers who currently do not have a job but are looking for work, ticked up slightly to 3.9%. The labor force participation rate remained steady at 62.7%; this metric reflects the percentage of the country’s civilian population 16 years and older that are either working or actively seeking work. 

In April, the healthcare industry led job creation once again by adding 56,000 new roles, a third of the total job growth. Of those 56,000, there were 9,000 created specifically in the nursing and residential care segment. Social assistance was second for job growth with 31,000 new roles, and transportation and warehousing was third with 22,000 created.

Employment Situation highlights:

  • Average job growth over the last 12 months was at a pace of 242,000 new roles per month
  • The labor market has endured two major wars, a minor banking crisis, and rapid borrow cost escalation against projections of slowed growth for the last year
  • Employment growth has recently concentrated in a few key industries, like healthcare and leisure & hospitality
  • Legal and undocumented immigrants added an average of 80,000 workers per month to the labor market last year and are expected to contribute 50,000 per month in 2024

The April 2024 Employment Situation finally showed what economists have been predicting for a year now: a healthy easing of the labor demand. While economic growth declined as a whole in the first quarter of 2024, there is good news to be had: there are lower rates of workers quitting their jobs than there were before the pandemic started. 

But that ease in labor demand doesn’t extend to all industries, however. Sectors that hire skilled trade workers that require specialized knowledge and skills, like retail automotive and healthcare, will continue to face considerable hiring competition. While there may be fewer roles outside of your respective fields vying for the same talent pool you are, your competitors are contending for the same qualified candidates.

As we hit the halfway point in the second financial quarter, it’s increasingly important to weigh the benefits of a standalone applicant tracking system (ATS) in your recruiting and hiring processes, find ways to connect with and source younger talent to add to your teams, enhance your employer branding, and embrace mobile hiring. Read on to learn how!

Weigh the pros and cons of a standalone ATS

Using a recruiting platform offered as an add-on to your preferred payroll provider may seem like a savvy business choice at first glance, but the costs of bad hires pile up in the long term and can’t be ignored. This software isn’t designed with hiring optimization in mind, meaning that your company lacks key insight into the data that can help you make better decisions. If you’ve been using the software provided by your HRIS or payroll provider as your primary recruiting and hiring platform, you’ve been losing out to competitors using the latest HR technology to hire better faster.

When weighing the pros and cons of a standalone ATS, the cost can be categorized as an investment in the business. Rather than wasting money on poor hires made with the discount ATS, you have access to the transparency and data that growing businesses need to optimize every aspect of the hiring process. A standalone ATS like Hireology has one goal: to make hiring as efficient and effective as possible for everyone involved in the process — and they often integrate seamlessly with HRIS and payroll providers so your data is just as secure as it was in your previous ATS.

Engage the younger generation of applicants

Recent studies have shown that new high school graduates are opting to begin careers in skilled trade industries rather than pursuing higher education and debts. These new workers want to make money and they want to work — but they might not know what their next step should be. As the school year comes to a close, it’s time to consider how your business can engage the younger generation of applicants entering the labor market. 

For positions with severe labor shortages — like automotive technicians in the retail automotive industry or registered nurses and certified nursing assistants in the healthcare industry — there is a certain degree of knowledge and licenses or certifications necessary to legally perform certain roles. But that doesn’t mean you can’t nurture this fresh batch of talent to meet your needs.  There are plenty of workers out there who want to start a new career in a stable industry, and the skilled trades will always be in demand. The key is making sure that your organization is marketing the engaging benefits of a career in your field; whether you invest in clarifying potential career opportunities or choose to offer sign on bonuses for entry-level positions, you really have to tell the Toolbelt Generation what a job with you gives them in exchange for their time. 

Enhance your employer branding

Nowadays, most things are a simple online search away — and recent Hireology data shows that the majority of job seekers are using this to research potential employers before even submitting their application. Instead of a first impression being made at the initial interview, applicants are using career sites, social media profiles, and review sites like Glassdoor to gather information ahead of time. Do you know what your current careers page says about your company?

Aside from the actual words on your careers page, the type of content you feature matters. Best practices state that you should always post your open roles on your careers page and link back to this career site from any other recruitment channel you use. This is one of the best ways to establish a consistent employer branding, or the strategies you use to proactively market your organization as an employer. In order to truly enhance your employer branding, you need to take control of your online narrative by carefully curating the content you feature. Great examples of employer branding content include:

  • Employee spotlights
  • Celebrating employee milestones or work anniversaries
  • Pictures of team outings 
  • Ways or days that you give back to your local community
  • Video testimonials from your staff about why they love working with you

Take hiring on-the-go

Hiring doesn’t stop when you step away from your computer. These days, the fastest one to get an offer to an applicant is the one who gains an employee. If you don’t have a way to access your hiring platform on-the-go, then you’re missing out on the best talent on the market.

Speed is so important in the hiring process these days, which makes it even more important to partner with an ATS that empowers you to move with speed. No matter whether your employees prefer Apple or Android, your hiring team should be able to easily access your hiring platform, review candidates, and maintain communications with potential hires on a mobile app. You can’t afford to miss a notification these days, but especially when it comes to hiring.


The April 2024 Employment Situation finally showed signs of slowing down, with only 175,000 jobs added last month. While many industries will feel some relief in hiring, those in the skilled trades will continue to toil with shortages of qualified talent. These conditions only make it that much more important for companies in the skilled trades to regularly assess what HR technology will make the best investment in their business, work on engaging talent in the younger workforce, revamp employer branding online, and take hiring on-the-go.

Decentralized businesses across the country partner with Hireology to simplify hiring across all of their branches. Schedule a free demo to see why.



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