Job growth slowed for the second straight month, with employers adding just 263,000 jobs during September. While this jibes with the experience of many of our clients, continued labor shortages have kept the hiring market steady. That's reflected largely in the latest unemployment rate, which dropped to 3.5 percent — matching its pre-pandemic 50-year low. So while there are encouraging signs for employers, the approach to attracting and retaining talent will remain mostly unchanged from where it was the past few months.
Let's review the latest labor market indicators along with the current incentives that promise to bring the most ROI in terms of hiring and retention.
industry impact at a glance
Despite slower job creation overall, manufacturing remains in a stable position compared to other sectors. While wage growth continued to rise, the month-over-month increase was just 0.1 percent, though that figure is still 7.4 percent higher when compared to this same time last year. Still, manufacturing factory jobs are experiencing a resurgence. There are now 67,000 more manufacturing jobs than there were before the pandemic, likely driven by rising e-commerce demand and the U.S. government's legislative initiatives aimed at boosting domestic manufacturing production.
Some economists are even predicting that an impending recession could impact office roles more severely, positions that employers refilled faster in the early stages of the recovery that now leave them with less room for growth.
Our data has yet to show a definitive trend for these professional positions, though we are witnessing some slowdown. Job applications for office and administrative roles, for instance, declined by 0.4 percent last month. IT roles experienced a more pronounced drop at 9.3 percent. Wages in these sectors have remained relatively static, though we did notice a slight 1.6 decline as far as office and administration is concerned.
hiring and retention priorities for employers
As unemployment decreases and looming recession concerns grow, these three incentives remain critical focus areas for employers looking to hire and retain talent in the month ahead.
Twenty-seven percent of employees told us that they had quit a job in the past due to lack of flexibility. Think: remote and hybrid work for sectors and skill sets where it's feasible. For others, like manufacturing, flexibility can be achieved by implementing four-day work weeks or flex scheduling.
Do you currently provide enough in-house employee development? Seventy-five percent of workers said it's very important to be offered reskilling/upskilling opportunities by their employers. Cultivating talent from within allows employers to fill skills gaps without having to engage the tight hiring market.
Beyond just skills training, today's employees crave a more personalized approach to career instruction. Fifty percent of employees said they'd be interested in speaking to a professional career coach if given the chance. The focus of instruction will differ between industries, so survey your workforce to match them with the right subject matter. In our survey, results ranged from learning how to increase pay, achieve better work-life balance and advance their career with their current employer.
the bottom line
Job growth continues to slow and unemployment has returned to its 50-year, pre-pandemic low. The ripple effects from this stabilization, however, haven't had quite enough time to materialize yet. While new opportunities are less abundant, so too are job seekers, meaning employers will have to continue to work hard at attracting and retaining talent throughout October.
Focusing on flexibility, upskilling/reskilling and career coaching will get you started, but there are other ways to sharpen your strategy. For more tips on talent attraction and retention, along with the latest hiring trends, visit Randstad's Business Insights page.