US Economy Adds 165,000 Jobs in April
In a surprisingly stronger-than-anticipated labor report this month, the economy added 165,000 jobs in April and a 7.5 percent unemployment rate. The gain marked an improvement over last month, and also delivered large revisions to the February and March numbers. The revisions showed an additional 114,000 jobs were added to the economy during that time. Helping keep job gains in the positive were consistently high-performing sectors such as, professional and business services, healthcare and temporary help services. Employment in professional and business services added 73,000 in April, with employment in that sector rising 587,000 jobs over the past year. The temporary help services industry added 31,000 jobs, and employment in healthcare increased by 19,000.
Small Business Hiring Slowing
Hiring has slowed particularly among small businesses with 20 to 49 employees. The most recent ADP jobs report showed small employers hired only 17,000 workers in April. And, a monthly survey by the National Federation of Independent Business finds “taxes” and “government regulations” are the two biggest problems for small business owners. Economists point to healthcare reform measures likely influencing this trend, specifically the law requiring businesses with 50 or more full-time employees to start providing insurance in 2014 or face fines.
Company Brand Influences Hiring Success
For those businesses that are hiring, the relative success or failure in attracting talent can hinge on the companies’ brand. The world’s largest brand consultancy, Interbrand, recently found more than 20 percent of employees under the age of 30 say they would prefer to have a lower-paying job with a brand in which they believe in. Another survey conducted by Randstad US, the 2013 Employer Branding Survey, examined the common denominators of choosing an employer. The top three factors include:
Public Sector Trends Dragging on 2013 Economic Performance
The first quarter of 2013 saw significant cuts in government spending and it may be dragging down the economy. In fact, the last two quarters have seen the biggest six-month contraction in the federal government’s economic activity since the months following the Korean War in 1953. Spending by federal, state and local governments is lower than it was in mid-2007. This past month, government job cuts amounted to 11,000. Overall, governments have slashed more than 80,000 jobs over the past six months. The cutbacks within the public sector are projected to continue through the rest of the year as the federal government alone cuts $85 billion over a seven-month period.
Worker Confidence Levels on the Rise
The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index rebounded in April as U.S. consumers felt more positive about the economic outlook and their own income prospects. The index rose to 68.1 from an upwardly revised 61.9 in March. However, consumers’ labor market assessment was not nearly as rosy. The “jobs hard to get” index increased to 37.1 percent from 35.4 percent in March.
Similarly, the Randstad Employee Confidence Index finds growing confidence among workers when it comes to the economy, their employers and even their ability to find a new job. In fact, outlook on macroeconomic conditions, which measures worker sentiment in the strength of the economy and availability of jobs, reached a post-recession high of 46.8 points—more than double what it was in April 2008 (20.9).
The Employee Confidence Index also returned to pre-recession numbers at 57 points, a figure last seen in August 2007. Although immediate impacts of the recent payroll tax hike and the sequester on American confidence levels appear non-existent, many experts remain cautious about the remainder of the year.