April 2018 Jobs Report: Unemployment Falls Below 4%

By Robert Half May 4, 2018 at 1:41pm

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released more good news about the state of the U.S. job market today. Unemployment dropped to 3.9 percent in April, the lowest mark since December 2000. Prior to last month, the unemployment rate had held steady at 4.1 percent since October 2017.

The unemployment rate for workers who are 25 or older and have a college degree — the professionals in highest demand by employers — was even lower, at just 2.1 percent in April, edging down slightly from 2.2 percent in March. 

Employers added 164,000 jobs in April 

The BLS also reported that employers added 164,000 positions last month. That continues a streak of 91 consecutive months of job gains, the longest on record.

Since January 2018, employers have added almost 800,000 jobs. That total includes revised numbers for February and March. According to the BLS, employment gains during those two months were 30,000 more than previously reported.

Professional and business services sector fueling job growth

Employment in professional and business services has been growing, and that pattern continued in April, with employers adding 54,000 jobs. The BLS reported that, over the past year, this sector has created 518,000 positions.

The education and health services sector added 31,000 jobs last month, with healthcare contributing 24,000 of those positions. Healthcare employers have generated 305,000 jobs over the past 12 months, according to the BLS.

Manufacturing was another significant contributor to job growth in April, adding 24,000 positions. The BLS reported that manufacturing employers have expanded payrolls by 245,000 positions over the past year; most of that growth was in durable goods, which include automakers and electronics manufacturers.

What employers need to know

The tightening unemployment rate is making it even harder to find skilled talent available for hire. The latest Job Openings and Labor Turnover Report from the BLS showed that employers had 6.1 million open jobs at the end of February. When hiring, you need to present your best offer out of the gate. Many in-demand professionals are weighing multiple opportunities, and you need to quickly convince them yours in the best one.

Once you’ve made a hire, your efforts to secure that employee aren’t over. Be sure to provide a smooth onboarding process — one that is robust and well-orchestrated — so new team members feel valued and supported from Day One. A thoughtful approach to onboarding helps demonstrate your organization’s commitment to helping new employees succeed. More importantly, it lets your hard-fought new hires know they’ve made the right choice, preventing them from entertaining other job offers or returning to a former employer.

What job seekers need to know

Demand for specialized workers continues to exceed supply, and leading employers recognize they need to pay at least market rates to attract the best talent. That means conditions are favorable for negotiating salary during the hiring process. 

But you need to go into these discussions well-prepared if you want to be successful. You need to be able to explain clearly and concisely why you believe you deserve to earn more. What skills, experience and attributes really set you apart from the field of contenders? 

If an employer can’t meet the figure you have in mind, don’t leave the table without considering other options that could help sweeten the deal. Additional perks or benefits — whether it’s flexible hours, a great retirement plan or something else — can prove even more valuable to you in the long run than a bigger paycheck.

Let us help you find the right fit

An infographic summarizing the April 2018 jobs report and survey data from Robert Half

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