Current Status of the Job Market

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Published Date: 01/27/2014


Reneé Watkins

By Reneé Watkins


In an earlier newsletter article (Recruiting Hurdles in an Improved Economy), we reported on signs the job market is beginning to show improvement after many long months of “status quo.” The improvement is likely to be slow and steady over a long period of time.


Although October showed the fewest number of layoffs in a given month since 2001, November layoffs remained essentially the same in number, with very little decrease over the prior month. November hires were up only slightly over October, again showing little improvement. However, it is important to note, in consideration of the prior several quarters not slipping backwards is a good thing.


While retail jobs were up significantly, as is typical during the holiday season, construction jobs took a larger than expected dip due primarily to the recent harsh weather. Planned layoffs announced by US firms in December were down, 32 percent lower than November, representing their lowest number in more than 13 years.


So often we hear these numbers being tossed around in a morning news report, with little to no explanation of what they mean, where they came from, or how they impact other facets of the economy. As numbers improve, employers become more confident and increase their hiring and plans for growth. As employees become more confident in continued employment and other career opportunities, consumer spending increases as well. Evidence of this can be found in the fact that purchases of new homes exceeded projections in November, very near a five year high. With more spending on goods and services, corporations are fueled for growth, which increases the need to hire more employees. Soon, the growth cycle is able to continue on its own.


Ending 2013 on a high note sends a message to industry that 2014 may indeed be a very good year for economic recovery. Still we have a long way to go. January marks the six year anniversary of the official beginning of the Great Recession and the four-and-one-half year anniversary of its end. While we are currently hovering in the neighborhood of 4.1 million jobs per month, a total of 7.9 million jobs are needed to return to where we were just prior to the start of the Great Recession six years ago.


For more information on the current job market, visit the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) web page at


In a follow up article, we will explore how employers now need to be more concerned with voluntary turnover, particularly of those employees they do not want to lose. What kinds of things should employers be thinking about so as to not lose their best employees?