BLS Analysis for Recruiters, December 2019 – 8 articles

Bob Marshall’s December 2019 BLS Analysis for Recruiters; 1/10/20

The 8 December Articles…

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Job Openings Rise After 18-Month Low; Indicating Labor Market Strength

Daily News, December 17, 2019

Job openings in the US rose by 235,000 in October to a total of 7,300,000, according to seasonally adjusted data released today by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.  The Associated Press reported the number represents a rebound from an 18-month low in September and indicates the job market remains strong.

“As we can see from this morning’s figures, the US job market is showing subtle signs of strength, and this has certainly contributed to the country staving off a recession,” said Lee Biggins, CEO of job board Resume-Library.

“Of course, Trump’s impeachment and the ongoing trade war had dampened some predictions, but with the extra vacancies added, and a resolution with China in sight, the future is looking far brighter than it did in August,” Biggins said.

The largest increases in job openings were in retail trade, up by 125,000; finance and insurance, up by 56,000; and durable goods manufacturing, up by 50,000.  On the other hand, the largest decreases in job openings were in nondurable goods manufacturing, down 36,000; information, down 33,000; and arts, entertainment and recreation, down 26,000.

The number of hires fell by 187,000 with the decline in the private sector.  Retail trade posted the largest decrease in hires, down 97,000 in October.

In addition, the number of separations fell by 162,000 month-over-month in October.

The BLS also noted the number of layoffs and discharges fell by 202,000 in October to 1,800,000.  The number of layoffs and discharges increased in federal government by 16,000, mainly due to layoffs of temporary Census 2020 workers.

In turnaround, U.S. economy sheds fears of recession in 2020

Heather Long, Washington Post, December 17, 2019


Interest rate cuts, better trade outlook propel markets to fresh highs.

WASHINGTON — The U.S. economy is heading into 2020 at a pace of steady, sustained growth after a series of interest rate cuts and the apparent resolution of two trade-related threats mostly eliminated the risk of a recession.

This marks a dramatic turnaround in momentum since August, when some forecasters predicted a 50% chance of a downturn starting by the end of next year.

Many economists credit the Federal Reserve’s recent interest rate reductions and the slightly improved trade picture for propelling the stock market to fresh record highs and causing forecasters to bump up their predictions for how long the economy can keep growing and adding jobs without stumbling.

A trade deal with Mexico and Canada was approved last that would keep most goods traded between the three nations tariff-free.  And a limited trade agreement with China was reached that scrapped hefty tariffs in exchange for China agreeing to buy about $200 billion more in U.S. goods over the next 2 years.

The trade deals have lessened one of the biggest drags on the U.S. economy: uncertainty. While some industries still face significant tariffs and final details remain in flux, business leaders say at least they know what the situation is likely to be in 2020, offering more clarity than they have had since the trade war commenced nearly 2 years ago.

“Tariffs will be much more stable for quite a while,” top economic advisor Larry Kudlow told The Washington Post.  “Some of the obstacles to growth, including the Fed and trade uncertainties, are being removed, and that will have a powerful positive impact on the economy.”

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said some of the larger-scale structural changes the White House wants China to make could take “years” to accomplish, reinforcing the belief that the White House could scale back some of its adversarial tactics next year.

“The risk of a trade-war-induced recession — which we never thought was high — has been materially reduced,” said Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics Sunday, in a note to clients.

Kudlow predicts 3% economic growth next year, a pace that Trump promised voters but that has not been reached since 2005 and almost no forecasters outside the White House think is feasible.

While Trump is almost certain to fall short of his vow, the majority of economists now think the economy will grow about 2% next year, a rate solid enough to ensure that unemployment stays near a half-century low of 3.5%.  This could benefit Trump on the campaign trail, as no president since World War II has lost reelection when unemployment was below 7.4%.

The major fears in August were that businesses would continue pulling back their spending, Trump would continue imposing tariffs, and companies would soon turn around and ax jobs.

But that worst-case scenario didn’t materialize.  Job gains exceeded expectations in October and November.

Many economists say Trump should be thanking the Fed for coming to the rescue after he escalated the trade war this summer.  The Fed reduced the benchmark U.S. interest rate 3 times this year — in July, September and October — taking it from nearly 2.5% down to just under 1.75%.  Trump has repeatedly criticized the Fed, calling the central bank’s leadership “boneheads,” but it was the central bank that stimulated the economy in recent months.

“The reason things are looking more positive now is due to the Fed,” said Constance Hunter, chief economist at KPMG.  “We are seeing a turnaround in housing because mortgage rates are low.”

White House officials say the trade deals alone could push growth up half a percentage point next year, up from about 2.3% this year.

U.S. consumers have been the powerhouse of the U.S.— and global — economies this year, and that is likely to continue next year.  On top of that, Kudlow argues, business investment is likely to make a comeback next year now that the Fed has made it cheaper to borrow money and Trump has hit the pause button on most additional tariffs.

Business investment contracted from April through September despite assurances from White House officials that the 2017 tax cuts would lead to a surge in new investments.

That pullback helped create a drag on economic growth.

The economy next year is also expected to benefit from high levels of government spending, as well as an uptick in Chinese purchases of U.S. products.  The government is projected to spend $1 trillion more than it brings in through revenue next year, an unusually large gap during a period of economic growth.

This adds to the debt and drives up borrowing costs, something Republicans have long opposed, but they have been largely supportive since Trump entered office.

Despite the low interest rates and progress in trade talks, a number of independent economists still believe the economy won’t pick up much momentum.  Many see the economy treading water next year, with a modest uptick in business investment offset by weaker consumer spending.  They base this on recent clues, such as sluggish retail sales for November, typically a powerhouse month.

“We are not headed toward a recession, but the data do not indicate any form of sudden re-acceleration going into 2020,” said Gregory Daco, chief U.S. economist at Oxford Economics.


Stocks closed broadly higher on Wall Street on Monday, extending the market’s gains from last week and sending the major indexes to record highs.

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq notched all-time highs for the third straight day. The Dow Jones Industrial Average beat its record set in November.

Strong economic reports out of China helped drive the rally. Growth in factory activity and retail sales in the world’s second-largest economy both beat analysts’ expectations for last month.

Majority of AD and Marketing Execs to Increase Use of Creative Freelancers, but Very Hard to Locate Talent

Daily News, December 16, 2019

Strong demand for creative talent is expected for the first half of 2020, according to The Creative Group, a division of Robert Half International Inc.

Its research found 67% of hiring decision-makers in advertising and marketing plan to expand their teams in the first half of the year.  In addition, 69% plan to increase the number of freelancers they use, a 7% jump from 6 months ago.

A majority of advertising and marketing managers, 86%, said it’s somewhat or very challenging to locate the creative talent they seek.  It is becoming harder for organizations to hold on to creative and marketing staff, with 61% of advertising and marketing managers surveyed reporting that employee retention is more difficult now compared to 1 year ago.

Web and mobile development remained the top area for recruiting among in this sector.  Survey respondents also cited the following technical skills as immediately needed for their companies:

1.  Digital strategy

2.  Content creation and content marketing; social media management (tied)

3.  Artificial intelligence and machine learning

4.  Data science, data analysis and A/B testing

5.  User interface design

The survey included more than 400 advertising and marketing hiring decision-makers who work full time at agencies with 20 or more employees or companies with 100 or more employees in the US.

The US’s top 15 emerging jobs of 2020, according to LinkedIn

Michelle Cheng, December 10, 2019

It’s never a bad time to be an engineer—or to have people skills.

LinkedIn’s third annual US emerging jobs report has identified the 15 fastest-growing jobs, as well as the skills and cities most associated with them.  This year the company found that the number of artificial intelligence and data science roles continue to expand across nearly every industry.  For the first time, robotics has made an appearance on the list, and at least 5 roles in the ranking include the word “engineer” in the title.

But it’s not just high-tech roles that have seen a lot more hiring action in the past 5 years, which is how far back LinkedIn looks to measure the emergence of roles based on user profile data and hiring growth trends.  Product owners, “customer success specialists,” and sales development representatives are also in high-demand, LinkedIn says.

Only 1 job on the list generally doesn’t require a four-year degree, which is that of behavioral health technicians.  Since 2015, hiring for this role has grown 32% a year, due in part to the increased insurance coverage for mental health, according to the report.

LinkedIn also notes that Washington DC and the surrounding metros are attracting new tech talent, including cybersecurity, data science, and artificial intelligence experts, “nearly in line” with the major tech hubs of San Francisco and New York.  And mid-size US metros such as Austin, Texas, Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, are continuing to attract tech talent thanks in part to lower costs of living and increased remote-work opportunities.

Here is LinkedIn’s list of emerging jobs of 2020:

Artificial intelligence specialist

Annual growth rate: 74%
Skills unique to the job: Machine learning, deep learning, TensorFlow, Python, natural language processing
Where the jobs are: San Francisco Bay Area, New York, Boston, Seattle, Los Angeles

Robotics engineer

Annual growth rate: 40%
Where the jobs are: San Francisco Bay Area, Atlanta, New York City, Washington DC, Boston
Top industries hiring this talent: Information technology and services, industrial automation, computer software, financial services, automotive

Data scientist

Annual growth rate: 37%
Skills unique to the job: Machine learning, data science, Python, R, Apache Spark
Where the jobs are: San Francisco Bay Area, New York City, Washington DC, Seattle, Boston

Full Stack engineer

Annual growth rate: 35%
Skills unique to the job: React.js, Node.js, JavaScript, AngularJS, Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)
Where the jobs are: San Francisco Bay Area, New York City, Los Angeles, Boston, Washington DC

Site reliability engineer

Annual growth rate: 34%
Skills unique to the job: Amazon Web Services, Ansible, Kubernetes, Docker products, Terraform
Where the jobs are: San Francisco Bay Area, New York, Seattle, Boston, Washington DC

Customer success specialist

Annual growth rate: 34%
Skills unique to the job: Software as a Service, Salesforce, customer relationship management, account management, customer retention
Where the jobs are: San Francisco, New York, Boston, Chicago, Washington DC

Sales development representative

Annual growth rate: 34%
Skills unique to the job: Salesforce, Software as a Service (SaaS), lead generation, sales
Where the jobs are: San Francisco Bay Area, New York, Boston, Chicago, Austin

Data engineer

Annual growth rate: 33%
Skills unique to the job: Apache Spark, Hadoop, Python, Extract/Transform/Load (ETL), Amazon Web Services
Where the jobs are: San Francisco Bay Area, New York, Seattle, Boston, Chicago

Behavioral health technician

Annual growth rate: 33%
Skills unique to the job: Applied behavior analysis, Autism spectrum disorders, behavioral health, mental health
Where the jobs are: Miami-Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, San Francisco Bay Area, Phoenix, Seattle

Cyber security specialist

Annual growth rate: 30%
Skills unique to the job: Cybersecurity, information security, network security, vulnerability assessment, information assurance
Where the jobs are: Washington DC, New York, San Francisco Bay Area, Chicago, Denver

Back end developer

Annual growth rate: 30%
Skills unique to the job: Node.js, JavaScript, Amazon Web Services, Git, MongoDB
Where the jobs are: San Francisco Bay Area, New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Seattle

Chief revenue officer

Annual growth rate: 28%
Skills unique to the job: Strategic partnerships, startups, Software as a Service, go-to-market strategy, executive management
Where the jobs are: New York, San Francisco Bay Area, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago

Cloud engineer

Annual growth rate: 27%
Skills unique to the job: Amazon Web Services, cloud computing, Docker products, Ansible, Jenkins
Where the jobs are: San Francisco Bay Area, Washington DC, New York City, Dallas-Fort Worth, Chicago

Javascript developer

Annual growth rate: 25%
Skills unique to the job: React.js, Node.js, AngularJS, JavaScript, Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)
Where the jobs are: New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, Washington DC

Product Owner

Annual growth rate: 24%
Where the jobs are: New York City, Boston, San Francisco, Chicago, Atlanta
Top industries hiring this talent: Information technology & services, financial services, computer software, insurance, hospital and healthcare

Survey: Over 40% of Job Candidates Say ‘Bye’ if Employers Won’t Negotiate

MultiBriefs: Exclusive, Terri Williams, December 10, 2019

We’re currently at or close to full employment, and companies need to be more flexible if they want to snag desirable job candidates.

According to a recent Robert Half survey, applicants aren’t afraid to walk away when companies aren’t willing to negotiate — and not just on salary.  In the survey, 43% of respondents said they lost interest in a job offer because the company was unwilling to negotiate elements beyond salary.

So, what are the other areas that job applicants want to negotiate?

“I wasn’t very surprised with these findings given the competitiveness of our current hiring market,” says Steve Saah, executive director of Robert Half Finance & Accounting.  “If companies are too rigid when it comes to job offer negotiations, they risk losing qualified candidates to businesses who are willing to be flexible.”

With unemployment rates at 50-year lows, Saah says managers need to realize that workers have the upper hand in the hiring market.  “Job seekers realize that if one company isn’t offering them what they want, another firm may be willing to.”

However, the survey also reveals that executives are willing to be flexible when negotiating with job candidates:

A few notes: professional development can range from graduate school to continuing professional development to inhouse training.

Benefits typically include health insurance, paid time off, dental insurance, a retirement savings plan, and vision insurance.  Other types of benefits include wellness programs (physical, mental, financial).

Remote work is rising in popularity for a variety of reasons. Another Robert Half survey reveals that 50% of workers believe their commute is stressful, and 45% feel it’s too long.

Advice to help managers negotiate

To be an effective negotiator, Saah says you need to know what you’re prepared to offer and where you draw the line.  “For example, are you OK with a rock star candidate who requests a remote work arrangement due to a bad commute?  Or someone who requests quarterly learning opportunities?”

You’ll need to determine what you’ll lose if the best candidate gets away.  If the best candidate is far superior to your other options, is it worth it to save a few thousand dollars in professional development costs?

Also, remote work can mean the difference between the very best candidate and the very best candidate in a 25- to 50-mile radius.  “In a separate survey, 43% of senior managers said their company offers flexible scheduling to avoid peak traffic times and 40% offer telecommuting to help alleviate employees’ stressful trips,” Saah says.

“Think about what’s feasible and what you’re prepared to offer to land your top choice.”

He also recommends shifting your mindset regarding what you’re offering.  “Job offer negotiations are often two-way conversations that take into account both parties’ requests.”

Advice to help employees negotiate

When negotiating, Saah says job candidates should know what is most important to them going into the conversation and weigh all aspects of the offer.  “Enter negotiations with a solid understanding of current compensation trends for your position and location.”

That’s because the salary for you position can vary based on industry, experience, city, and a variety of other factors.  He recommends sources such as Robert Half’s Salary Guides to ensure you have realistic expectations.

“If the hiring manager offers a lower amount than you expected, bring up other things you can negotiate, like a flexible schedule or opportunities to learn and grow with the company,” Saah advises.

GDP Growth Forecast for 2.3%, but Economists Divided on Recession Start

Daily News, December 9, 2019

Forecasts for inflation-adjusted GDP growth in the US held steady among economists taking part in the National Association for Business Economics’ 2019 NABE Outlook report.  However, they were split on when a recession would begin.

The median forecast for inflation-adjusted GDP growth in 2019 is 2.3%, according to the report released today.  The median forecast is unchanged from an earlier survey in October.  Looking ahead, the median forecast for 2020 is growth of 1.8%.  In comparison, the economy had grown by 2.9% in 2018.

But panelists were divided on a recession.

“The panel is split regarding when the next recession will begin,” said Eugenio Aleman survey chair and economist at Wells Fargo Bank.  “Respondents believe the odds that GDP will first turn downward by mid-2020 are about 1 out of 5 but indicate there is a one-third chance that the downturn will not begin until the second half of 2021 or later.”

In addition, the report projected monthly nonfarm payroll employment growth of 134,000 in 2020, stronger than the 129,000 forecast in the October survey.

Solid Job Growth Ahead: Employment Trends Index

Daily News, December 9, 2019

Solid job growth will continue in the coming months, according to The Conference Board’s Employment Trends Index released today.

“The Employment Trends Index increased in November, suggesting solid job growth will continue in the coming months,” said Gad Levanon, head of The Conference Board Labor Market Institute.  “Recently published indicators held on better than expected, suggesting that businesses are less cautious than expected and that economic growth will remain solid, despite a very tight labor market and declining corporate profits.”

November’s index level rose to 110.18, up from October’s index level of 109.96

November’s increase was fueled by positive contributions from 5 of the 8 components of the index.  From the largest positive contributor to the smallest, these were:

*Percentage of firms with positions not able to fill right now

*Ratio of involuntarily part-time to all part-time workers

*Industrial production

*Real manufacturing and trade sales

*Number of employees hired by the temporary-help industry

The Employment Trends Index announcement follows an upbeat jobs report last Friday.

Jobs Jump in November, Squashing Recession Concerns; Temp Jobs up by 4,800

Daily News, December 6, 2019

Total US nonfarm jobs rose by 266,000 in November from the previous month, well above the monthly average of 180,000 per month so far in 2019, according to seasonally adjusted numbers released today by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“While today’s gain was inflated by the return of the GM strikers to work, the job gain was still much stronger than expected,” according to a statement by The Conference Board.  “Today’s job report, more than any other report in recent months, squashed any lingering concerns about an imminent recession in the US economy.”

Meanwhile, US temporary help services employment rose by 4,800 jobs in November to a total of more than 3,000,000.  This number compares to an average decline of 1,200 jobs per month so far this year.

“Even with the total nonfarm employment gain of 266,000 inflated by about 40,000 jobs due to the return of auto workers from a strike, this was a strong month,” said Tony Gregoire, research director at Staffing Industry Analysts.  “Temporary help numbers are improving as well.  Though still down year-to-date, temporary help employment is up by 28,000 jobs since July.”

The temp penetration rate — temporary jobs as a percent of total employment — was 2.00% in November, little changed from October.

In addition, the number of temporary jobs added in October was revised upward by 1,700.

Looking back at total nonfarm employment, the BLS noted healthcare added 45,000 jobs in November while manufacturing employment rose by 54,000 following a decline of 43,000 jobs in October.  The BLS noted employment in motor vehicles and parts was up by 41,000 in November, reflecting the return of striking workers.

Leisure and hospitality jobs rose as well, by 45,000, in November.  Meanwhile, transportation and warehousing jobs rose by 13,000 and financial activities added 13,000 jobs.

The US jobless rate fell to 3.5% in November from 3.6% in October.  The college-level unemployment rate was 2.0% in November, down from 2.1% in October.

Average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 7¢ to $28.29 in November.  Over the last 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by 3.1%.