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Insights From the BLS Jobs Report: 5 Lessons From 2023 

December 6, 2023

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Insights From the BLS Jobs Report: 5 Lessons From 2023 

The end of the year is fast approaching. More than the holiday season, the approaching new year also triggers the need for companies to reflect on their performances and metrics during the past year. Since a new year represents an opportunity for growth and improvement, company leaders like yourself need to create plans based on historical data and statistics. 

This strategic approach allows leaders to leverage insights from past experiences, enable informed decision-making, and foster a path toward sustained progress and success. But how can your company navigate tight labor markets and economic headwinds related to your industry? The answer lies in leveraging insights from reports and applying lessons for the next four quarters. 

Comparing the Start and the Finish Line 

No matter what industry, time always brings along changes at work. By analyzing BLS jobs reports released in January and October of this year, we can spot discernible shifts in the U.S. labor market. 

But before diving into their differences and similarities, it’s important to note that the year 2023 overall reflected significant improvements compared to previous years. For example, BLS reports stated that unemployment rates reached almost 6.5 percent in 2021.¹ This is quite a big number compared to October 2023’s 3.9 percent.² 

Although the decline in the unemployment rate was never consistent throughout the years, the work landscape can celebrate stable job growth despite past issues and employment-related obstacles. 

Returning to the starting and finishing line of 2023, the reports showed minimal changes in some factors and huge number gaps in others. Take the unemployment rate and nonfarm payroll employment as specific examples. 

January reported a 3.4 percent unemployment rate, while October stats identified a 3.9 percent. Comparing the numbers, there isn’t a big difference between the number of unemployed Americans throughout the year. 

On the other hand, the nonfarm payroll employment showed a significant difference. January recorded a whopping 517,000 increase since last year’s fourth quarter, while October of this year reported only 150,000. 

If there are numbers that changed, there are also those that remained the same. For example, the employment-population ratio all throughout 2023 remained at 60.2 percent. This implies that the job market is stable even with the economic issues and headwinds in existence. 

Headwinds to Consider 

Just like how a wind blows in the opposite direction of movement, ‘headwinds’ refer to something that can disrupt your progress or success. If you aim for improved performance in the year 2024, it’s essential to acknowledge and understand the headwinds affecting your organization. 

Market Saturation 

This headwind can be seen through two different lenses – customers’ and employers’. 

From a customer standpoint, market saturation refers to the high supply of a product in the market. Imagine you’re looking to buy a cellphone, but there are too many similar options to choose from. This abundance makes it difficult for companies to gain new customers and expand their market. 

On the employer’s side, market saturation doesn’t refer only to products and services up for purchase. It can also refer to individuals looking for professional roles. Aside from the 3.9 percent unemployment rate, 5.4 million people outside the labor force want to land a job in the market. 

This saturation of both products and candidates results in the same difficulty of narrowing options and finding the best options. 

Talent Shortages 

With around 5.7 million unemployed people, why are there still unfilled positions in almost every industry? Studies point to talent shortages which were at a ten-year high just two years back.³ 

Upon analysis, talent shortages emerge as a significant challenge across various fields, including technology and IT. This challenge is particularly pronounced in high-demand sectors like software development, cybersecurity, and automation. 

Professionals universally acknowledge that technological progress waits for no one. Considering this, it is logical to assume that fast-paced growth and constant changes can actually be one reason for talent shortages despite substantial candidate numbers.  

Practical Tips and Advice for Employers 

More than the two headwinds explained, you must accept that your company will face challenges in 2024. Instead of being scared, make this article your sign to be ready. Remember it’s better to go into battle overly prepared than not prepared at all. Here are five practical tips and advice for employers aiming to lead their organizations toward success. 

1. Be proactive in engaging potential candidates. 

Employers must proactively reach out to potential candidates in a market where talents and skills are in high demand. Passively posting on job posts is no longer enough. Proactively engaging with candidates can create a talent pipeline you can benefit from. 

Building a Strong Employer Brand 

To catch a candidate’s attention, you must first build a strong employer brand. Showcase the values, culture, and goals that define your company and create an appealing narrative for potential hires.  

Connect With Discouraged Workers 

Consider the fact that in October 2023, there were over 416,000 discouraged workers. What if one of these professionals who believes there’s no job available to them is actually equipped with the skills you need? 

Explore Diverse Talent Sourcing 

Move beyond traditional hiring channels. Attend industry-specific events, collaborate with professional associations, and leverage online platforms like LinkedIn to source candidates actively. Engage in discussions, share industry insights, and demonstrate your company’s commitment to professional development. 

Maintain an Online Presence 

Ensure a robust online presence through regular updates on social media, a dynamic careers page on your website, and participation in relevant online forums. Engage with potential candidates by responding to queries, sharing industry trends, and showcasing your company’s achievements. 

2. Competitive markets deserve competitive compensation. 

It is essential to acknowledge that attracting and retaining top candidates demands competitive compensation. With labor statistics showing a 62.7 percent labor force participation rate, there is no doubt that candidates are looking for employment opportunities. 

Remember that great professionals who have a lot to offer are usually those who know their worth. So if you want to get their attention, you must respect them by providing competitive offers. 

Keep up to date with salary structures and industry standards. Do your research before offering compensation. Moreover, consider additional benefits that align with potential employees’ priorities, such as health, benefits, family initiatives, and work-life balance. 

3. Modernize work arrangements. 

The current employment situation no longer sticks to traditional in-office work. Due to the shift that occurred during the pandemic, many organizations are entertaining alternative work structures. 

Many professionals are working under a remote or hybrid setup. Interestingly, surveys made by McKinsey showed that 65 percent of employed respondents are willing to work from home consistently.⁴  

To meet these trends, you must explore the possibility of modernizing your people’s working arrangements. By giving employees the flexibility of choosing where to work, you indirectly advocate for work-life balance while attracting potential candidates along the way. 

Read More: 6 Ways to Maximize Remote and Hybrid Collaboration 

4. Invest in upskilling and reskilling initiatives. 

Although many unemployed professionals are in the market for a new role, there are still roles left unfilled. This gap exists because there’s a difference in candidates’ skills and what the open job roles require. 

Given technology’s rapid advancements, many new skills and responsibilities are being created specifically to accommodate the usage of new tech tools. Some more traditional roles are replaced with titles requiring advanced knowledge and skills. 

For instance, in certain manufacturing companies, automation is displacing production floor workers. Even if leaders want to keep their employees, they struggle to find suitable positions because of the lack of necessary skills. 

Involuntary layoffs and the completion of temporary jobs are the reasons for 49 percent unemployment. This suggests that there is a need for company leaders to invest in upskilling and reskilling opportunities for their current workforce. Allowing your professionals to grow and learn can increase retention rates and fill in open roles with qualified experts. 

5. Consider different employment types for your workforce. 

The BLS jobs report highlighted 4.3 million people working part-time for economic reasons. It’s essential to recognize that some professionals prefer part-time or freelancing roles. Therefore, it’s valuable to think beyond just hiring ‘full-time employees.’ 

Addressing talent shortages and easing the challenge of filling open roles involves exploring different employment arrangements. For instance, if you have a project idea, consider opting for contract roles instead of hiring full-time employees. This approach can be more effective and cost-efficient. 

This flexibility broadens your hiring options and allows you to tailor your workforce to the specific demands of different projects and tasks. 

Read More: The Benefits of Temp Employees for Tech Firms 

CREATE AN EFFECTIVE AND DATA-DRIVEN WORKFORCE PLAN WITH RASO360 

The new year opens up space for your company to continue growing. To ensure a successful year ahead, you must exert effort in workforce planning. Raso360 can help you fill your ranks with skillful temporary and direct hires.  

With us as partners, your organization can face employee-related headwinds head-on. Reach out to us today to learn more! 

References 

1 BLS. “The Employment Situation – January 2023.” Bureau of Labor Statistics, 3 Feb. 2023, www.courthousenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/jobs-report-jan2023.pdf

2 BLS. “The Employment Situation – October 2023.” Bureau of Labor Statistics, 3 Nov. 2023, www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/empsit.pdf?fbclid=IwAR38BJcvPKC4l8p9fXu6TCfvE3cBLN_E_7ocefN59uGoMp2c6-skzj_V2vc

3 Castrillon, Caroline. “Why U.S. Talent Shortages Are At A 10-Year High.” Forbes, 22 Sept. 2021, www.forbes.com/sites/carolinecastrillon/2021/09/22/why-us-talent-shortages-are-at-a-ten-year-high/?sh=5e2a56e979c2

4 McKinsey & Company. “Americans Are Embracing Flexible Work—And They Want More of It.” McKinsey & Company, 23 Jun. 2022, www.mckinsey.com/industries/real-estate/our-insights/americans-are-embracing-flexible-work-and-they-want-more-of-it

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