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  • Writer's pictureCaroline

U.S. Labor Market Update | March 2024 

Updated: May 21

With Q1 of 2024 coming to a close, we are jumping into the labor market data from March 2024. Overall, subtle movements in unemployment rates and job creation demonstrate a resilient and expanding market. Join us as we explore the nuances of this dynamic environment, analyzing the trends and themes shaping our economic landscape.



Unemployment Rate

March 2024 witnessed a subtle decline in the unemployment rate to 3.8%, slightly easing from the previous month, hinting at an adaptable labor market. The year-over-year comparison also reveals a nuanced picture, with the rate and number of unemployed individuals showing fluctuations indicative of broader economic currents and labor force sentiments. The fluctuation reflects ongoing shifts within the economy and labor force, highlighting a potentially stabilizing employment landscape as the year progresses.



March 2024 displayed nuanced labor market trends: Service and Sales occupations saw a mixed picture, with a slight decrease to 4.5% and an increase to 4.1%, respectively. The Construction and Extraction sector improved to 6.3%, indicating robustness. Similarly, Installation, Maintenance, and Repair occupations significantly improved to 2.3%. Office and Admin Support held steady at 3.6%, and Production, Transportation, and Material Moving Occupations remained constant at 5.2%, showing sectoral steadiness and shifts.


Job Creation

The labor market continued its upward trend by adding a notable 303,000 jobs, outpacing the previous month's gains (February 2024 with a 270,000 increase). The labor force grew by an overall 469,000 individuals. This addition signifies a dynamic employment sector, with a workforce adapting to new opportunities, underscoring the labor market's capability to rebound and expand despite previous contractions.



Wage Trends

Wage increases in March to 0.35% represent a gradual improvement over February's modest growth (0.17%), offering a snapshot of a labor market navigating through varying economic pressures. The subtle increase suggests that different sectors are experiencing a wide range of wage adjustments, reflecting the diverse economic forces at play across industries.



Industry Specific Insights

 

Job Postings

March reflected a diverse industry footprint, with Retail witnessing a drastic dip in fill rates despite high job postings. Customer Service also grappled with lowered fill rates, reflecting hiring hurdles. Food Services signaled significant recruitment difficulties, with fill rates falling sharply amid slower job postings.


Job Fills

All three sectors—Retail, Customer Service, and Food Services—saw fill rates plummet, pointing to widespread hiring challenges across these customer-facing industries.


Demand vs. Supply

Retail and Customer Service saw less competition among job seekers, yet Food Services faced increased competition despite severe fill rate drops, illustrating a pressing need for innovative recruitment methods across the sectors.



Industry Specific Analysis

 

Retail

In March 2024, the retail sector's recruitment woes intensified, with the fill rate plummeting to 6.65%. Despite quicker hiring, evidenced by a drop in fill days to 93.8, the vast majority of postings went unfilled. The consistency of the resume-to-posting ratio at 0.9 from February indicates a steady flow of applicants vying for fewer positions, reinforcing the need for retailers to innovate their hiring tactics in response to a notably tough labor market.


Customer Service

In March 2024, the customer service sector saw its fill rate drop dramatically to 10.54%, a steep decline from February's 56.16%. The time to fill positions increased to an average of 85.5 days, indicating a slower hiring process. There was also a rise in resumes received to 83,800, pushing the resume-to-posting ratio to 4.02, signifying an increased competition for available jobs. These figures point to a need for customer service entities to reassess and innovate their hiring strategies to cope with the market's challenges.


Food Service

In March 2024, the food services sector saw a significant hiring strain, with the fill rate drastically reduced to 8.99%. The average duration to fill roles extended to about 329.5 days, highlighting severe hiring delays. Despite this, the number of resumes received rose to 31,300, and the resume-to-posting ratio increased to 1.71, reflecting persistent competition for available roles and pointing to the sector's critical need for effective and innovative hiring strategies.

Key Takeaways For March

March 2024 gave us varied wage growth, signaling a complex economic environment with sector-specific trends. The job market faced intense hiring competition, especially in key customer-facing industries, emphasizing the need for strategic recruitment responses to these evolving market conditions.


 

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