February 2024 BLS Employment Situation — Job Growth Outpaces Workforce Growth

Last week, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released the February 2024 Employment Situation, a comprehensive overview of how job growth and shrinkage can be used as supplemental context for what’s happening in the economy. The report showed that there were 275,000 jobs added to the labor market last month to surpass all expectations from economists once again.

The unemployment rate, which measures the number of workers who currently do not have a job but are looking for work, increased to 3.9% while the number of unemployed people increased to 6.5 million with an additional 334,000 people entering the job market. 

The labor force participation rate, measured as the percentage of the country’s civilian population 16 years and older that are either working or actively seeking work, was unchanged for the third month in a row at 62.5%. The labor force participation rate for people in their prime working years, ages 25 – 54, increased to 83.5%. 

In February, healthcare led job growth with 67,000 new roles added to the market; 11,000 of these roles, or 16%, were at nursing and residential care facilities alone showing the sustained need for these workers. Government was second for job creation with 52,000 new jobs, while food services and drinking places was third with 42,000 new jobs.

Employment Situation highlights:

  • February was the third consecutive month of growth above 200,000
  • December and January’s Employment Situations were revised down by a combined total of 167,000 jobs
  • Prior to last year, the labor force participation rate for people in their prime working years hadn’t reached 83.5% since the early 2000s
  • Unemployment rate was driven by people losing or leaving their roles combined with influx of people entering the market to look for work
  • Labor supply is being fed by increased levels of immigration

The February Employment Situation is indicative that professions that require in-person workers are continuing to face high competition for limited talent pools. While the labor market has continued to be supplemented by increased levels of immigration, millions of other people who have been sitting on the sidelines have been encouraged to rejoin the workforce due to rising wages, attractive benefits, and flexible work schedules becoming commonplace.

So what does that all mean for employers? For owners and hiring managers who recruit skilled workers, hiring will continue to remain competitive despite more people searching for work. There are simply more roles available than there are people to work them. In order to stand out in this competitive hiring market, businesses will need to nurture their relationships with candidates, rethink referrals, optimize hiring spend, and make a great first impression on their newest team members. Read on to learn how!

Nurture your talent pipeline

When you fill a position, you’re left with a list of new contacts — some of which may be very valuable to your team later in time. There’s a high likelihood that while one person ultimately received the job, there were others who you thought would be great fits for your organization as well. Whether you sourced quality referrals from your employees or sponsored job posts to stand out, you likely have a considerable list of now rejected applicants and referred candidates. Instead of leaving these qualified contacts sit stagnant in your applicant tracking system (ATS), you need to find a way to nurture these candidates to ultimately convert to a hire at the end of your talent pipeline.

Nurturing your talent pipeline isn’t unwelcomed by the average job seeker either; Hireology research revealed that 84% of job seekers would be willing to work for an organization they had applied to in the past but didn’t receive a role. The best part? You can leverage email and SMS text messaging in your relationship building to increase the odds of having top talent see and engage with your communications. Automation tools allow you to engage with former applicants, alumni, and referred candidates on a regular basis so you can tap into a custom talent pool created just for you when the need arises.

Turn your employees into your best recruiters

Good people tend to know other good people that would make great assets to your team. With the hiring market as competitive as it is, you need to find ways to source your own candidate pool to choose from. With employee referral programs, you can do just that — all while contributing to a passive pipeline of talent for you to access whenever you need to. 

On average, referred candidates are hired faster, stay longer, and are more engaged in the workplace than traditional candidates. This is largely due to the fact that your employees are already vetting these applicants before you even make contact with them; it’s highly unlikely that anyone on your team would pass along someone who wouldn’t make a good fit at your organization due to how it would reflect on them. Plus, even if the referred candidate isn’t currently looking for a new role, you can keep their contact information on file and enter them in your list of potential candidates to nurture so you’ll be top of mind if they choose to search for a new role.

Optimize your hiring spend (and process)

These days, it seems like hiring costs a premium. It can be tempting to use one of the free ATSs that are offered along with payroll providers, but they come at an even steeper cost: an inefficient hiring process that chains you to making decisions blindly. Hiring processes, in general, can feel like one big experiment of trial and error — and in some ways, it is. But free ATSs do not give their users the power to make decisions backed by transparent data. 

With other ATSs, like the Hireology platform, you have access to HR metrics that allow you to make smarter hiring decisions while optimizing your hiring spend and processes. You’ll be able to analyze metrics such as which recruitment channels drive the best ROI or see where bottlenecks are currently occuring at a branch by branch or organization-wide level. Like we mentioned earlier, at first, recruiting can feel a bit like random experimentation but when you have the data available to refine your approach, you’ll be able to maximize your hiring dollars to make the best hires possible for your organization (and ultimately save money in the long run!).

Make “Day One” a great one

By now we know how important first impressions are but for new hires, the first few days on the job is typically spent in a chair somewhere, filling out paperwork before they can even start their training. Instead of making a new employee’s first day start off with tedious paper pushing, you can get them on the floor (and up to productivity) faster by digitally onboarding them ahead of time. With digital onboarding, you can collect documents ahead of time for verification, as well as gathering any necessary paperwork like I-9s, proof of identity, and more. 

Not only are you able to take advantage of the fugue state that happens between the moment a candidate accepts an offer and their first day on the job, but you are also able to keep top talent engaged with you to ensure that they don’t ghost you before they officially begin. How you onboard officially sets the tone of the relationship that the employee has with your organization throughout the entirety of their employment with you, so make Day One a great one by letting them bond with their coworkers on the job.


The February 2024 Employment Situation exceeded economists’ projections once again with its strong job gains. For those who need to hire in skilled trade industries, you’ll need to nurture your talent pipeline, turn your employees into your best recruiters, use HR metrics to optimize your hiring results and spend, and set up new hires for long term success through digital onboarding.

Decentralized businesses hire better talent faster when they partner with Hireology, an HR and recruiting platform. Schedule a free demo to see how our hiring solution can solve your business’s needs!



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