June 2023 BLS Jobs Report — Lukewarm Labor Market Puts Power Back in Employer’s Hands

Last Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) stated that employers added 209,000 jobs to the market in June, down 100,000 jobs from the revised number of 309,000 in May. While this is the third month in a row that overall job creation has decreased, June’s gains marks the 30th consecutive month of job growth. For 2023, the monthly average of 314,000 net new jobs exceeds pre-pandemic levels, including the 100-month stretch of job growth experienced after the Great Recession. Overall, 1.57 million jobs have been added in the first half of this year, the 10th highest amount seen since 1939, according to the BLS. 

The unemployment rate dipped 0.1% to 3.6% last month as well, indicating a still tight labor market. For reference, this low unemployment rate is the lowest it has been since the 1960’s and has consistently stayed between 3.4% and 3.7% since May 2022. Additionally, the prime-age labor force participation rate (a measure of people ages 25 through 54 working or looking for a job) is the highest that it has been since 2002 at 83.5%.

In June, government led job creation with a total of 60,000 new roles created, followed by healthcare with 41,000 and social assistance with 24,000. It should come as no surprise that the government led new role creation this month as the industry has continuously been trying to reach pre-pandemic levels. The healthcare industry has the second leading sector job growth is no shock either, as healthcare facilities and home care agencies continue to face a talent shortage. The leisure and hospitality sector, which was sixth overall for job creation, has yet to meet pre-pandemic levels of employment but is experiencing easier hiring (at a slower pace) thanks to overall wage gains decelerating.

This month’s BLS jobs report has a little something for everyone: depending on the data you choose to look at, you could say things are either slowing down or heating up. For instance, while there was a healthy number of jobs added last month, there was a distinct slow down from the surge we experienced in May. This is not to be taken, however, as the job market collapsing but rather an indicator of job gains continuing to slow in the future. 

Another sign that the labor market is cooling is simply the fact that June could have been a huge month in terms of hiring as summer jobs and recent college graduates traditionally enter the workforce — but that wasn’t really the case this year. Some experts have interpreted this as the cool down that the Feds have been waiting for. Despite this unexpected cooling, the jobs data is still higher than baseline standards of a tight labor market, suggesting that the market is warm rather than cold. To add to this, the average hourly wage rose 0.4% from May to $33.58, showing that businesses are still pulling out all of the stops to attract and retain the talent they need. 

The trend this year has been using bigger paychecks and better benefits packages to attract and retain top talent — but you can stand out amongst your hiring competitors in other ways. According to our recent State of Hiring Report, 71% of job seekers decide which job to accept on something other than pay. For businesses across the country, this is good news! Now instead of stretching your budget to hike wages, you can use other strategies to find and hire the talent you need.

Read on to learn more about how you can attract and hire the best talent in this turbulent job market.

Make applying to a job as easy as ordering food

First things first: can an applicant apply to your open roles on their phone? If not, start there. Applicants are on-the-go — and if they can’t apply on their smartphone, they likely won’t apply at all. Consider your first item of business, then, to make your applications mobile-friendly. You need to eliminate barriers that would discourage people from applying and make the process as easy as possible. 

Along that train of thought, consider asking less of candidates at the start. In this hiring landscape, less is more: less fields to enter mean more applications. Ideally, you would require five fields or less for applicants to enter; we’ve found that this amount of entry fields is optimal to garner applications. Simply ask for their name, email address, and phone number to get the process started as quickly as possible. If your business requires certifications, you can also collect those documents later in the hiring process.

Control your hiring variables

Uncertainty brings anxiety — for you and for applicants. Given the current hiring market, the employers that can reach applicants first and move them through their interviewing processes are typically the ones that make the hire. While automation can be helpful in giving applicants peace of mind, hiring still needs a human touch.

You want to aim for consistency in hiring across your locations: in messaging, in your hiring process, and in the quality of candidates you bring in. Most of these outcomes can be managed by controlling one of your hiring variables; in this case, you would need to manage your hiring speed. You need to be fast to hire the best candidates, as we mentioned earlier. To do this, you need to set mandated response times and require company-wide compliance. Most candidates expect to hear back within 48 hours of submitting an application; while an automated response will let them instantly know that their application was received, your team should work towards actually reviewing it within the next day or two to move them through the hiring process.

Tell your company story online

Your company’s online presence is a candidate’s first impression — do you have the tools in place to tell your story? If not, your ideal candidates are relying on the self-reporting of old and current employees on other sites to get an understanding of what your company’s culture is.

The best way to tell your company story online is with a career site. A customized career site can act as a one stop shop for all things “you.” You could use this website to tell the history of your organization, emphasize your company culture, and let applicants know what drives your company with your core values. A career site is also a great place to highlight your star workers — especially if they’ve risen through the ranks at your company. You should also link your job posts on various recruiting channels to this site, so applicants can get a well rounded view of their potential new employers. 

Give your employees room to grow

The job market cooling down doesn’t mean that you no longer need to work to keep your employees. There may be less jobs opening, but that doesn’t mean that workers will stay in an environment that doesn’t help them develop. With that in mind, you need to give your employees room to grow at your workplace in order to encourage them to stay.

There are a few ways that you could encourage retention at your workplace, not least of which is to develop realistic career pathways. When employees can clearly see where they can go next in their career, they’ll be motivated to perform to the best of their capabilities — and stay with your organization if you treat them right. With that in mind, you should consider budgeting for continuing education stipends; you could find these funds in what would otherwise be increased starting wages. You could also factor in varying degrees of flexibility, whether that’s in scheduling or in the form of on-demand pay.

This month’s jobs report shows nothing but opportunities for employers like you to make the hires you need. Instead of competing on pay, however, you can expect applicants to be interested in other factors, like which company can reach out to them faster, how easy it is to submit an application, and what your company’s story is. If you would like to learn more about what the modern job seeker is looking for, download State of Hiring 2023 today!



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