The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released the August 2023 Jobs Report last Friday, showing that there were only 187,000 new jobs created — the third consecutive month that job creation was less than 200,000. Additionally, the number of jobs created for June and July 2023 were revised down a cumulative 110,000, further indicating that hiring weakened over the summer months.
The unemployment rate, on the other hand, rose to 3.8% from 3.5%. This metric is used to measure the number of workers who currently do not have a job but are looking for work. This rate has increased due to 700,000 people entering the labor force, either because they simply can’t afford to be unemployed anymore due to inflation or they were laid off from their jobs.
It’s also worth noting that the prime-age participation rate, the labor force participation rate among folks ages 25 – 54 hit 83.5%, which is 0.5% higher than it was before the onset of the pandemic. While this doesn’t quite reach the highs of the 1990’s, it is indicative of a strong and growing labor market, full of talent to supply employers with workers. In addition to this, the labor force participation rate itself, which is the percentage of the population 16 years or older that is either working or actively searching for work, rose to a new post-pandemic high of 62.8%.
In August, healthcare led in job creation for the second month in a row by adding 71,000 jobs, with nursing and residential care facilities adding 17,000 of those roles. The leisure and hospitality sector was second for job creation with 40,000 new jobs but fell short of the monthly average of 61,000 that we saw for the last 12 months. Currently, the leisure and hospitality industry lags from its pre-pandemic employment levels by 290,000 roles or 1.7%. Social assistance was third for job creation with 26,000 roles created last month.
What does all this data mean? Well, to put it simply, more people are entering the workforce but there are fewer jobs being created overall so competition for top talent is slowing. We’re witnessing a gradual moderation as hiring remains fairly steady but unemployment rises. Early in 2022, there were a little more than two open jobs per job seeker; as of last July, this statistic declined to around 1.5.
All in all, job growth is slowing to a steadier pace. That doesn’t mean, however, that all industries have finished with their employment gains. In fact, employment growth is expected to be condensed in industries that either are still recovering from their pandemic job losses or those that experience a constant demand due to social structural support, such as the healthcare industry as demographics age. The industries expected to maintain a strong hiring pace as the labor market softens are the healthcare industry and leisure and hospitality sector.
In short, there are less jobs to go around and more people who want to work. The focus in hiring will shift to identifying quality applicants rather than exclusively on volume. With this change in mind, you can put more effort into attracting the right people, using systems to organize your top candidates, improving your own hiring process, and how to get your new hires to productivity faster than before. Read on to learn how you can empower your business to succeed in the time ahead in these areas.
Stand out with a great careers page
Your careers page is more than just a web page that you use to post vacancies at your business — it’s also your chance to showcase your organization. You should use this space to highlight your work culture. Today’s workers place heavy emphasis on the values that their employers embody, so you should use this area to share the principles that shaped your business’s mission. Your careers page is both your advertisement and a driver of your employer branding. You can almost guarantee that candidates who are serious about wanting to work with you will spend time looking at your website.
Beyond that, you should also use your careers page to display all of the benefits and perks your company offers employees. At this point in the hiring market, you should have some degree of flexibility worked into your people policy. Most organizations that can’t offer remote work have incorporated some degree of schedule flexibility for your employees. Whether you let employees pick their schedules or you offer longer or shorter shift options, be sure to use your careers page to share this information with potential applicants. Job seekers still place high value on flexibility, so this could help you drive applicants. You should also use your careers page to highlight the career growth possibilities at your company. This can take many forms, so start by considering whether you offer clear career pathways for employees to follow in their time at your organization or a continuing education stipend for employees to use for events or further certifications.
Organize your top picks
With more workers in the market and fewer jobs for them to choose from, you will need to have systems in place to easily organize your candidates. You should find a way to tag candidates with relevant keywords, or to rate them within your current applicant tracking system (ATS). A word of warning: be sure to avoid an ATS that requires candidates to create a username and password to apply; our 2023 State of Hiring Report, we found that 52% of applicants have given up applying to a job they were interested in because the application required them to create a username and password.
You should be able to find an ATS that keeps everything you need to know about an applicant in one easy to find profile. All of the pre-screen surveys, background checks, resume, and interview notes record about an applicant should be in the same place. With modern HR technology, you’ll be able to maintain transparent feedback on candidates in one centralized location, no matter what location your organization is hiring at.
Improve your hiring effectiveness with HR analytics
A mediocre hiring process may get people on the floor fast, but it won’t do you any favors to get the right talent that you actually want on your team. With more people on the hiring market, you need to do what you can to refine your hiring processes where you can to make them more efficient. You can accomplish this by using HR analytics.
Most HR technology companies require you to pay extra for access to this important data, but there are ATSs on the market that include this with your subscription. With HR analytics, you have insight into which channels drive the most ROI for your recruiting efforts, your current hiring velocity, and whether all of your locations are adhering to the hiring process you’ve implemented. When you know which source delivers the best candidates reliably, you can concentrate your hiring dollars and efforts to maximize the output from these channels. Your hiring velocity is how fast and how many applicants you receive; this stat can be beneficial when you’re trying to optimize your hiring efforts. And finally, making sure that all of your branches stick to a standardized hiring process does more than just keep your organization compliant — it also makes sure that you’re hiring the same quality of candidate across all of your locations which is important for your reputation.
Reduce time to productivity
If you’re going right from the hiring process to your new hire’s first day, you’re not using the time you have available wisely. Instead, you should look at how you can pre-board talent and collect onboarding and new hire paperwork digitally to save time during your newest employee’s first days. Pre-boarding isn’t the same as onboarding, to be clear; this is the time between a candidate accepting an offer letter and their official start date. You can make the most of this time by sending new hires a box full of swag items from your group. You could include branded mugs, jackets, hats — really anything that your workers will find useful and that shows your logo, as this is a win/win for both of you.
Onboarding, on the other hand, is when you are actively integrating a new employee with your company. If you’ve done your due diligence during pre-boarding, all of the paperwork should be done so you can focus on training and relationship building to set your new hire up for success!
The hiring market appears to be softening, but there is still a steady supply of talent on the market. With an average of 1.5 jobs for every job seeker, the balance is slowly swinging back in favor of the employer. You should take steps now to make your business more attractive to applicants by optimizing your careers page, finding a system that allows you to organize your pool of candidates, gain access to HR analytics to refine your process, and reduce time to productivity for your newest hires.
Want to learn more about the modern worker? Download our 2023 State of Hiring Report for a look inside the modern applicant’s mind.