March saw surprisingly weak job gains with total employment increasing by just 126,000 jobs. But the year-over-year trend still looks good and when we look at the last two years, we’ve seen 2.3% growth, which is a nice trend of acceleration. Temporary staffing revenue in the U.S. rose a median 13% year over year in March.
The unemployment rate was unchanged at 5.5%. If employers had a slight pause in hiring in March, they certainly weren’t laying off. And the news for college grads is good. The unemployment rate there has been trending down to a nice level in this tightening labor market.
So where did we see growth? Employment continued to trend up in professional and business services, healthcare, and the retail trade. Here are the exact figures:
- Professional and business services increased by 40,000 jobs in March. Highlights within this sector include architectural and engineering services, which increased by 4,000 jobs in the month, computer systems design and related services, which also increased by 4,000 jobs, and management and technical consulting services that, again, saw a 4,000-job increase.
- Healthcare added 22,000 jobs in March.
- Retail trade increased by 26,000 jobs in March. Within this category, the biggest winner was general merchandise stores, which added 11,000 jobs in the month.
Employment in other major industries, including construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, information, financial activities, and government, showed little change over the month.
The average workweek for all employees declined slightly to 34.5 hours in March, and the manufacturing workweek also decreased slightly to 40.9 hours. Factory overtime remained the same—3.4 hours. Here at Nelson, the average work week in March was 33.67 hours. In the professional services category, daily hours generated were up 4.3% over February.
Average hourly earnings rose in March by 7 cents to $24.86. Over the year, average hourly earnings have risen by 2.1%. Here at Nelson, average pay has increased 1.6% since January. And, since last year at this time, average pay is up 2.8%. In the professional services category alone, average pay is up 2.4% since February.
Despite the blip in March, the economy continues to rebound. With increased competition for talent and a shortage of critical skills, US companies increased their talent acquisition spending 7% on average year over year in 2014 to nearly $4,000 in cost per hire. Organizations are recognizing that spending money strategically on recruitment, employment branding, sourcing, and the entire candidate experience is critically important and workforce experts like Nelson are in great demand.