January 2024 BLS Employment Situation — Greater Competition Alongside Strong Job Gains 

Last Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released the Employment Situation for January 2024, a comprehensive overview of how job growth and shrinkage provide context for what’s happening in the economy. The report showed that there were a remarkable 353,000 jobs added to the economy last month, surpassing all economist expectations.

The unemployment rate, which measures the number of workers who currently do not have a job but are looking for work, was unchanged yet again at 3.7%. 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 also unchanged at 62.5%. While the male labor force participation rate dipped 0.2% to 67.9%, the female labor force participation rate soared 0.4% to 57.5%.

In January, the professional and business services led job growth with a total of 74,000 new roles on the market. This was significantly more than their 2023 monthly average of 14,000 new positions. Healthcare was second for job creation with 70,000 roles created, 17,000 of which were exclusively in nursing and residential care facilities. Retail trade was third with 45,000 new roles created, the first time that this industry has seen significant growth in quite a while.

Employment Situation highlights:

  • Nearly two times as many jobs were created in January than experts predicted, further showcasing the continued resiliency of the economy
  • December’s Employment Situation was revised to include 117,000 more jobs for a new total of 333,000 roles created
  • November’s totals also had 9,000 positions added to it 
  • For the first time since 1967, the U.S. has sustained an unemployment rate below 4% for 24 consecutive months
  • Women drove jobs in January, with a 198,000 increase in employment while men only saw a 155,000 rise

Since January’s data shows an unchanged unemployment rate and the overall number of open jobs exceeds the pool of people looking for work, job seekers have the upper hand — but even more so in the skilled trade industries like healthcare and leisure and hospitality. 

Given these findings, the stronger industries for sustainable growth in 2024 appear to be those that took longer to recover from the pandemic, like hospitality, or that support key societal structures, like the healthcare industry. In order to hire competitively in this limited talent market, businesses will need to learn how to excite potential applicants via employer branding, take advantage of available HR metrics to optimize processes, clearly communicate career pathways to potential candidates, and use texting to keep top talent engaged throughout the hiring process. Read on to how!

Excite potential applicants with your employer brand

Hireology data revealed that 35% of job seekers go to a potential employers’ website to determine whether the culture fits their preferences — do you know what your career site says about you? If not, it is critical that you take time to assess the strengths and weaknesses of your current online presence to optimize your recruitment efforts. 

In today’s hiring market, you need to highlight your unique employer value as quickly as possible to stand out to top talent. The best way to convey what makes you a better employer than your competitors is to take control of your employer branding and practice consistency across all of your profiles. By following hiring best practices, you will be able to reach more quality talent and speed up your hiring process all by exciting applicants through your employer brand.

Take advantage of available hiring analytics

Have you heard the saying, “What gets measured, gets done?” 

When it comes to hiring, if you don’t know what your current averages are for key metrics like application review, responding to candidate communications, or even how long your hiring process takes overall, you can’t easily identify what areas need improvement. Instead, you could waste time honing in on issues that don’t contribute to optimizing your overall hiring performance, reducing time-to-hire, or improving candidate quality.

There’s a reason you hear so much emphasis on HR metrics — there’s still a considerable amount of businesses that have zero insight into how their hiring is going because they don’t take advantage of the analytics available to them. Modern recruiting and HR technology empowers you to determine best ROI for recruitment channels, identify where bottlenecks occur in your hiring process, and even grant you insight into process adherence across all of your rooftops. With stark competition to hire the best candidates, your company needs to reevaluate your hiring tools to ensure that you’re making the best decisions backed by data so you can quickly identify top talent and move them along through your hiring process.

Clearly promote potential career pathways

The industries that have continued to drive job growth through 2023 and into this year are sectors looking for hourly or skilled trade workers like the hospitality field and the leisure and hospitality field. However, job seekers today want to know they have the potential to grow, but most job seekers believe that these types of roles offer little to no career growth.  

This is why it has become necessary to clearly promote potential career pathways at your organization to potential applicants. In order to stand out from your competitors hiring from the same limited talent pool for the same entry-level positions, you need to be sure to advertise the availability for growth at your organization as part of your employment branding. Do this by telling applicants what’s in it for them directly in your job description so it doesn’t blend in with every other open role. You can’t just talk the talk, however; you need to walk the walk too. You need to provide a realistic career trajectory and examples of different pathways for every position at your company. 

Keep candidates engaged with you

When it comes to the modern job seeker, if you’re not in regular contact with them during the hiring process, you’re not on their mind. According to our 2023 State of Hiring Report, a third (33%) of job seekers are applying to at least 16 jobs at one time; and over half (55%) would like to be interviewed within three days of applying. 

You can cut through some of this hiring noise by using SMS texting capabilities in your hiring process. You can set up automations to initiate contact with candidates confirming receipt of their application, inviting them to set up their interview, take pre-screen surveys, or even remind them of upcoming interviews. By sending these simple messages, you’re reminding the candidate that you value their time and are excited about learning more about them in the interview process. This simple gesture does wonders to keep candidates engaged and less likely to suddenly drop out, or ghost, during the hiring process. In short, engaged candidates are the ones most likely to convert to your company’s newest hire.

Takeaways

The January 2024 Employment Situation greatly exceeded expectations from economists. For organizations that need to hire in skilled trade industries, owners and hiring managers will need to enhance their employer brand, optimize processes with HR metrics, advertise career potential, and engage candidates with text messages to competitively hire this year and beyond. 

Hireology, the leading applicant tracking system, empowers decentralized businesses to hire better talent faster. Schedule a free demo customized to your business’s needs to see how!

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