December BLS Employment Situation — Steady Job Gains in Skilled Trades

Last Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released the Employment Situation for December 2023. The report showed that there were 216,000 jobs added to the economy in the last month of the year.

The unemployment rate, which measures the number of workers who currently do not have a job but are looking for work, remained unchanged at 3.7%. The labor force participation rate, measured as the percentage of the county’s civilian population 16 years and older that are either working or actively seeking work, decreased by 0.3% as the labor force shrank by almost 700,000 workers.

In December, government employment led job creation with 52,000 new roles added in December. The healthcare industry was second with 38,000 roles created, while the leisure and hospitality sector remained in third place with 40,000 new roles. The leisure and hospitality industry as a whole is still about 1%, or 163,000, below pre-pandemic employment levels.

Employment Situation highlights:

  • December was the 36th consecutive month of job gains
  • 2.7 million jobs were added to the U.S. economy in 2023
  • Prior two BLS Employment Situation reports were collectively revised down by 71,000
  • Employers had less openings than at the beginning of the year
  • Employees are quitting at lower rates

December’s data furthered the idea of the economy experiencing a soft landing, which is good news for the time being for business owners and employees who have been leery of an impending recession. While many businesses in the tech space are still grappling with layoffs, leaving many workers unemployed, key economy supporting sectors are still struggling to attract the talent they need to meet customer demand. Industries like healthcare and hospitality continue to top the list of job creation monthly despite a limited number of skilled laborers to fill these positions.

Based on December’s data, hiring managers and owners in sectors where hiring remains a challenge will need to make applying for their open roles as easy as possible while also taking steps to ensure top talent will be able to see your job posts amongst the competition. They will also need to learn how to speed up their hiring process with mobile technology to capture more than their fair share of candidates. And finally, they will need to deliver a great onboarding experience to not only welcome their new hires, but also to improve retention rates. Read on for our suggestions on how to accomplish all of these goals and more.

Make applying as easy as sending a text message

With skilled labor in such high demand, you need to move quickly throughout the entire hiring process and that starts with your applications. In the time ahead, it’s going to become even more important to capture not only the interest of talent but making application submission as easy as possible. Ideally, you want to encourage applicants to apply right then, right there — and right on their phones.

You can accomplish this by making your application process as simple as carrying on a conversation through texts. Modern technology makes this not only possible, but easy for you and the talent you want on your team. For example, many leading recruiting teams are leveraging QR codes in physical signage around establishments or job fairs. Once someone has scanned this QR code, they’ll start a conversation with a chatbot that will acquire just enough information about them to create an application for them. 

QR codes can also be useful for gathering employee referrals — simply create a poster with the QR code and additional information about your program and wait for the referrals to come in. 

Ensure top talent sees your open roles

When it comes to recruiting, it’s common knowledge that you want to diversify your talent pools — but in a competitive market it can be tough to ensure that top job seekers are actually viewing your job ads. Considering that 47% of job seekers start their search for their next role on general job boards, these recruitment channels are compulsory for hiring these days. In order to stand out, you can opt to sponsor posts on job boards to make sure that your posts are seen by as many people as possible to gain a competitive edge.

The best part? You don’t have to sponsor posts on every job board you use. Instead, you can use HR metrics to determine your best recruitment channels for driving ROI and then invest in those avenues for optimal hiring results. With competition high to hire these critically needed workers, sponsoring can help attract more candidates and stand out from other job listings. You can also lean on sponsored posts to get more quality applicants in less time. Your company’s ATS should give you the same breakdown of your spend on sponsored job posts that you would find on the job boards themselves, all in one central location.

Hire from anywhere (with a signal)

Hiring more than your fair share of talent from the dwindling labor supply relies heavily on your ability to move quickly through your hiring process. Just because you’re away from your desk doesn’t mean that you can press pause on hiring; if anything, it means that you need to search for ways to stay in the loop when applications are submitted or a candidate communicates with you.

For these reasons (and many more), it’s imperative that your company partners with an ATS that offers a mobile app. This feature will ensure that you always have access to your hiring system so you never miss out on a top candidate. You can gain a leg up on the competition because you can hire instantly from your smartphone. Whether you’re on-the-go or at your desk, you can review and communicate with candidates as well as collaborate with everyone on your hiring team to eliminate any bottlenecks slowing your process down. This speed can make all the difference in making the hires you need, as recent Hireology data showed that 61% of job seekers accept the first offer they receive. 

Deliver an exceptional onboarding experience

Your work isn’t done once you’ve made the hire. After a new hire has signed an offer letter, it’s crucial that you deliver an exceptional onboarding experience to your new employee for several reasons.

For starters, you want to keep top talent engaged with your organization, even after they’ve accepted an offer. Your local competitors still want to hire this candidate as well, so keep them engaged by completing onboarding processes ahead of their first day. If the position they were hired for requires degrees or certifications, use a document collection tool to gather these materials ahead of time. 

You can also use this time to have your new hires fill out any other onboarding paperwork ahead of their first day. This practice not only allows you to get your new hires to productivity (and profitability) faster once they’re hired, but also gives them time to focus on orientation, training, and relationship building. You want to provide your new employees with a positive onboarding experience as this directly impacts how long they will stay with your company. In fact, Hireology data also revealed that employees who reported a positive onboarding experience were almost twice as likely to say they are loyal to their employer.

The December Employment Situation furthered the idea that the economy is recovering — but that hiring in skilled trade industries remains difficult and will continue to be so for the time being. To gain a competitive hiring edge, owners and hiring managers will need to ease the application process, make their job posts stand out, find ways to connect with their hiring platform on-the-go, and create a good onboarding experience for new hires to improve retention rates. 

To learn how you can hire better talent with faster results, connect with us for a free, personalized demo!



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