This year has shown a modicum of consistency when it comes to unemployment. Despite entering the year at ~4% unemployment, that number has fallen to oscillate around 3.6% for most of the year. The BLS’ September Employment Situation Summary doesn’t deviate from the trend — and, in fact, confirms a stable employment trajectory for the nation.
Job market highlights
The consistency of September’s National Jobs Report is perhaps the biggest highlight. Hiring remains strong and stalwart in the face of bubbling economic tension. In fact, several industries surged above and beyond the status quo, posting notable gains in August.
In a much-needed win for the sector, healthcare employment rose by 48k, with notable gains in offices of physicians, hospitals, and nursing. In the face of protracted inflation concerns, retail also saw an increase of 44k jobs, particularly in general merchandise stores, food and beverage, personal care, and building material and garden supply. Outstripping both of these sectors, professional and business services added 68k jobs in August 2022, largely focused on computer system design, management and technical consulting, and architectural and engineering positions.
From a geographic standpoint, job growth isn’t intrinsic to any single U.S. region. According to the BLS report, the top five states with the highest year-over-year employment change include:
- Texas (5.8%)
- Nevada (5.7%)
- Florida (4.9%)
- Georgia (4.7%)
- New York (4.6%)
General market trends and influencers
As has been the case for much of the year, several bellwether variables continue to establish themselves as market drivers in maintaining a strong labor market in September:
- National unemployment rate was 3.7% in August — only slightly above par with the annual average thus far. Though the number of unemployed persons rose 344k in August, it’s nearly half of what the country saw this time last year.
- Total payroll increased by 315,000 in August, bringing that number to ~5.8 million over the past 12 months. These continued gains have brought figures back up to and beyond pre-pandemic levels, indicating healthy, stable growth.
- Compensation increased marginally, with average hourly earnings rising by 0.3% in August. Over the past 12 months, the hourly wage has increased by 5.2%. While inflation remains a pervasive concern, it’s clear there’s momentum behind combatting it.
From an industry-focused standpoint, September’s BLS report is filled with silver linings and positive outlooks. Top sector insights include:
Healthcare, Medical/Pharma, Biotech. With an unemployment rate of just 3.1%, this sector is expected to see healthy job growth in the near future. Backed by increased demands from an aging population, nursing staff retirement, and a greater shortage in rural areas, the BLS projects 9% growth through 2030.
Technology, NFT/Blockchain, SaaS. While tech mega companies like Meta have announced plans to consolidate labor, the BLS still projects significant job growth (based on job postings) in several major hubs across the country: Florida (Orlando, 111%; Miami, 104%), Michigan (Detroit, 90%), California (Irvine, 89%), and Texas (Houston, 83%; San Antonio at 80%).
Hospitality. As the world opens up post-pandemic and travel becomes possible for greater numbers of the population, the Hospitality sector stands to benefit. At present, the sector maintains an unemployment rate of 6.1% with minimal changes in job growth. However, according to a BLS report, “The leisure and hospitality sector is projected to experience the fastest employment growth of all sectors, owing mostly to the low base point in 2021.”
Consumer Goods/Retail. This sector currently faces a modest unemployment rate of 3.7%; however, it’s a number that’s expected to shrink in the coming months. The sector experienced job growth already in August, adding 44k jobs. Omnichannel fulfillment trends could push labor demands even higher — though inflation remains a concern that could stymie the retail sector.
Oil and Gas. Energy producers have had a banner run of 18 months, with successes that have trickled down into a low unemployment rate of 2.6%. While there’s minimal change in job growth for Oil and Gas, the silver lining is strong retention that’s rooted in even stronger demand and the ability to retain workers through competitive wage and incentive packages for both upstream and downstream laborers.
Construction. Supply chain struggles and inflation remain the biggest headwinds facing construction. That said, the sector is finally finding stability, holding steady at an unemployment rate of 3.9%. As material prices come crashing back to earth, demand for labor to deploy materials against a backlog of orders spells a positive prospect for employment in this sector moving forward.
Financial Services, FinTech, Insurance. The Insurance and Financial Services sector is on the upswing as a more conservative notion overtakes the economy. As a result, unemployment has fallen to an exceptional 1.8%, on the heels of strong employment trends. The sector added 17k jobs in August, pushing total employment gains over 200k in the last 12 months.
Employment recovery is ongoing and uplifting
The BLS’ September Employment Situation Summary offers plenty of positivity, from stability in the face of uncertainty to continued job growth in key sectors. Nevertheless, there’s still significant ground to cover as the country continues to put the pandemic behind it. According to PEW Research, “thirty-two states and the District of Columbia have yet to recover all the jobs they had in February 2020 before the pandemic.” September’s report is yet another step in the right direction.