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  • Writer's pictureCaroline

U.S. Labor Market Update | January 2024

Updated: May 22

We are excited to share the first of our monthly updates on U.S. labor market trends, and analyses focused primarily on interesting findings we discover regarding retail, hospitality, customer service, and the hourly worker. As we embark into 2024, the U.S. labor market continues to demonstrate positive trends, with January's data revealing a market adapting to a new year's challenges and opportunities.

jobget us labor market update

Unemployment Rate

In January 2024, the national unemployment rate stood at 3.7%, remaining relatively stable compared to the previous months. This stability suggests a consistent labor market at the start of the new year.

unemployment january 2024

Across occupational categories, there were mixed unemployment results. While Service, Sales & Related, and Construction & Extraction remained stable, other sectors such as Office & Admin Support, Installation & Maintenance, and Production, Transportation, and Material Moving saw varying degrees of uplift in their unemployment rates.

unemployment by occupation jobget

Job Creation

In January 2024, job creation continued positively, with 353,000 new jobs, underscoring the labor market's ongoing resilience. This growth nearly doubled economists’ forecasts and topped December 2023’s upwardly revised gains of 330,000. Despite this growth, there was a notable reduction in labor force participation, with 175,000 fewer individuals, which could reflect a tightening labor market where fewer people are seeking work. This trend highlights the complex dynamics within the job market, including the potential impact of economic factors on workforce engagement.

january 2024 job growth jobget

Wage Trends

Average hourly earnings increased 0.55% in January, signifying a month-over-month rise. This wage growth trend underscores improving economic conditions, with particular strength observed in sectors such as mining and logging and professional and business services.

january 2024 hourly earnings jobget

Industry-Specific Analyses


Job Postings

In January 2024, the Retail sector exhibited a surge in job postings, but the fill rate remained below half, suggesting that while jobs are available, filling them is less efficient. The Customer Service industry also saw a high number of postings, indicating robust demand for these roles. Meanwhile, the Food Services industry continued to post new jobs, although at a slower rate than the Retail and Customer Service sectors.

Job Fills

Retail and Customer Service sectors experienced improvements in their fill rates in January, with Retail making a significant recovery. Despite the Food Services industry improving its fill rate, it lagged behind the other sectors, indicating ongoing challenges in hiring.

Supply vs. Demand 

All three sectors faced a highly competitive job market, with the resume-to-posting ratio climbing across the board, particularly in Customer Service, which saw the most substantial increase. This heightened competition points to a larger pool of candidates vying for positions, underscoring the need for strategic recruitment efforts to match the labor supply with the demand for workers effectively.

Industry Analysis | Retail

In January 2024, the retail sector showed signs of a shift in recruitment dynamics. While still facing challenges, the fill rate improved to 42.74% compared to December's 24.80%, suggesting an uptick in successful hiring. However, the time to fill positions remained high at 126.27 days, indicating ongoing delays in the hiring process. Significantly, there was a sharp increase in the number of resumes received, doubling to 28,100, which raised the resume-to-posting ratio to 2.25, the highest in the period analyzed. This surge in applications suggests a growing interest in retail positions, yet the high ratio also points to intensified competition among applicants. These factors combined confirm the need for retailers to refine recruitment strategies to manage an oversupply of candidates and prolonged vacancy periods.

jobget industry analysis retail

Industry Analysis | Customer Service

In January 2024, the customer service sector saw an uptick in the fill rate to 45.64% from December 2023's 32.30%, indicating an improved yet still challenging hiring environment. The time to fill vacancies reduced to roughly 78 days from 202.4 days in December, showing some acceleration in hiring processes. However, the competition for jobs intensified, with the resume-to-posting ratio soaring to 6.22, driven by a significant increase in resumes received, nearly doubling to 90,200. This suggests that while more positions are being filled, job seekers have also increased dramatically, heightening the competitive climate. Employers are thus encouraged to continue refining their recruitment strategies to effectively manage the high volume of candidates and streamline the hiring process.

jobget industry analysis customer service

Industry Analysis | Food Service

In January 2024, the food services industry experienced a moderate improvement from the previous month's significant recruitment challenges. The fill rate increased to 32.82% from December's low of 21.80%, indicating a better but tricky hiring situation. The average days to fill a position decreased to 194.29 from a high of 291.6 days, suggesting some acceleration in the hiring process. However, the market remained highly competitive, with a substantial increase in the resume-to-postings ratio to 2.39, up from 1.92, due to a surge in resumes to 33,700. This intense competition for jobs in the food services sector underscores the ongoing need for strategic recruitment strategies to fill positions in a challenging labor market efficiently.

jobget industry analysis food service

Key Takeaways For January

In January 2024, the U.S. labor market continued to exhibit resilience with the addition of 353,000 jobs despite a slight contraction in the labor force by 175,000 individuals. The unemployment rate remained stable at 3.7%, reflecting a labor market that is steadily maintaining its health. Notable job growth was observed in the private service providing and private education and health services sector. In contrast, the retail, customer service, and food services industries still faced significant recruitment challenges, with high job competition, as indicated by increased resume-to-posting ratios. As the labor market adjusts to demographic shifts, evolving technology, and economic pressures, it demonstrates adaptability, although signs of potential cooling are emerging.


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