Good news, employers: If you're looking for encouraging signs that it may soon get easier to hire, we've got them. But as the latest BLS labor market indicators show, for every new tailwind, there's an equal but opposite headwind.

With the latest data in hand, we'll show you what's changed, what's stayed the same and what you can do this month to stay competitive for talent as we wait to see which way the wind is blowing.

gains slow, but job seekers remain in the driver's seat

Despite recession fears and rising inflation, the job market remains relatively hot. Employers added 372,000 jobs in June, while the unemployment rate remained at 3.6 percent.

Last month, we saw signs of cooling for the first time, and those largely continued throughout June. Adding over 300,000 jobs in a single month is a healthy rate of growth, but compared to the even higher numbers of the past few months, the downward trajectory is sufficient enough to warrant mention. Sectors like professional and business services and durable (and nondurable) goods manufacturing saw job openings decrease, and real average hourly earnings for employees slid .6 percent.

And yet, when an overheated economy starts to cool, it can take months to reach a temperature that's even just slightly less scalding. That was true for the month of June, where despite a few isolated signs, worker confidence remained strong. While wage growth started to show some cracks, a number of industries still enjoyed year-over-year increases, albeit tempered by slower month-to-month rates:

  • office and administration: +18.6 percent from last year, but only +1.3 percent from last month
  • IT: +11.4 percent from last year, 2.6 percent from last month
  • manufacturing and logistics: +10.7 percent from last year, though only 0.4 percent increase from last month

Nominal wages were also up five percent compared to this same time last year. So while the rate of increase may be slowing, job seekers are still largely enjoying higher pay. Of course, it still remains to be seen how inflationary pressures will dampen worker sentiment on wages. The Consumer Price Index rose by 8.6 percent in the 12 months ending in May — the largest 12-month increase since December 1981. As worker purchasing power decreases, expect wage-growth euphoria to follow suit.

monthly tips for talent attraction

No matter how you crunch the numbers, employers will still have their work cut out for them. There are still 1.9 more jobs than there are job seekers, for starters, and workers are still quitting their jobs at high rates. From engaging untapped talent pools to delivering on current job seeker expectations, here's what employers can do this month to stay competitive for talent.

support women and others returning to the workforce

The labor force participation rate for women is still below its pre-pandemic level. While there have been some encouraging signs (our internal data showed, for instance, 465,000 women over age 20 had entered the workforce since March), there's still a lot of ground that needs to be made up.

Employers should focus on providing the kinds of benefits that are most important to women right now, like childcare benefits, along with schedule flexibility and remote work options.

Retirees are another group who, after exiting the workforce during COVID-19, are starting to return due to waning virus concerns and rising inflation. It’s estimated that 1.5 million retirees have reentered the workforce over the past year, especially in industries like manufacturing and logistics. Look to this emerging talent pool to help replenish your pipeline with a new group of candidates.

engage young adults

Young adult employment is increasing. Between 2020 and 2021, the employment-to-population ratio increased for workers in every age group except those over 65. All the while, the share of new hires between the ages of 15 and 19 has risen significantly year over year. Employers should look to fill entry-level jobs with talent from this largely untapped talent pool. Besides increasing your network of candidates, hiring younger workers allows you to fulfill an important career mentorship role. If the experience is positive enough, you stand a greater chance of retaining talent as they advance throughout their careers.

provide purpose, belonging and flexibility

What do today's workers want? Employees answered that question resoundingly in our 2022 Workmonitor report:

  • 44 percent of American workers wouldn’t accept a job with a business that doesn’t align with their values on social issues.
  • 41 percent wouldn't accept a job if the organization wasn’t making a proactive effort to improve its diversity and equity.
  • 83 percent of all respondents would like flexible working hours.

From finding ways to connect open roles to the greater good to taking proactive steps to improving EDI&A to giving workers more say in when and where they work — focusing on these core issues can help you improve your chances of landing talent in today's competitive market.

the bottom line

We may be trending in the right direction, but skilled talent remains elusive for employers. By engaging women, younger workers and delivering on purpose, belonging and flexibility, you'll put your company in a strong position to stay competitive for in-demand talent.

For more hiring, engagement and retention tips you can use, visit Randstad's Business Insights page.