April 2019 Jobs Report: Unemployment Lowest Since 1969

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By Robert Half May 3, 2019 at 7:50am

Unemployment dipped to 3.6% in April — the lowest rate since December 1969 — and job growth surged, with employers adding 263,000 new positions. That’s according to the April jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), released today. 

Updated figures for February and March show that 16,000 more jobs were added than the BLS had originally reported. With these revisions, job gains have averaged 169,000 per month over the last three months. Employers have expanded payrolls by 820,000 positions since the beginning of the year.

The following sectors created the most jobs in April:

  • Professional and business services: 76,000 jobs added
  • Education and health services: 62,000 jobs added
  • Leisure and hospitality: 34,000 jobs added
  • Construction: 33,000 jobs added
  • Government: 27,000 jobs added

April unemployment

The unemployment rate for college-degreed workers who are 25 or older — the most sought-after workers — was 2.1 percent in April. Many new college graduates are now entering the workforce, which is good news for employers struggling to find promising candidates for open positions. The most recent data available from the BLS show that there are more than 7.1 million job openings in the United States. 

What employers need to know

Here’s an important question: Is your hiring criteria too inflexible? Insisting that every new hire meets every job requirement is constraining. For one, it can cause you to completely overlook new college graduates, a vast and diverse pool of high-potential candidates. While they may not check all the boxes on your list of must-have skills and experience, top candidates in this group will probably hit many — and bring even more capabilities to the table than you might expect.

If you’re uncertain about recruiting new college graduates, consider this: Your competitors are probably open to it. A Robert Half survey found that 83% of senior managers in the United States plan to hire candidates who have recently earned a college degree. The three top benefits of hiring new graduates, according to the managers surveyed, are:

  • Enthusiasm about starting a new career — Recent college grads are eager to make a difference — and their mark. And who doesn’t want to hire workers who will approach their job duties and assignments with positivity and gusto?
  • Fresh perspective and ideas — New grads can shake things up in your organization, in a good way, just by offering a different outlook on issues. Many young professionals today also have an innovative mindset and are unabashed about seeking unconventional solutions to problems. 
  • The ability to learn and be trained — One of the most overlooked — yet seemingly obvious — qualities of recent college graduates is that they are open to learning. They can also absorb new information and processes quickly and easily. So, you’ll likely find that a modest investment in training and a well-structured onboarding process will help put a promising new hire on the path to success.

You want to recruit high-potential talent for your organization — and that’s exactly why new grads should be part of your staffing strategy. Hiring recent college graduates provides your business with the opportunity to train people who are essentially clean slates. They don’t have a long history of working for other employers and in different organizational cultures. And they don’t need to “unlearn” processes and policies that may be vastly dissimilar to those at your company. Even better: By investing in these newly minted professionals, your business can get a head start on building its future workforce.

What job seekers need to know

The hiring landscape looks positive for new college graduates in two key ways: First, the talent crunch is prompting many businesses to be more receptive to hiring recent grads. In fact, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), employers plan to hire 10.7% more graduates from the class of 2019 than they did from the class of 2018. 

Second, many companies are willing to train up promising candidates. In a Robert Half survey, 84% of human resources managers reported that their organization is open to hiring an employee whose skills can be developed through training. And 62% of U.S. workers surveyed said they had been offered a job when they didn’t meet all the requirements.

That doesn’t mean employers aren’t taking time to identify candidates who will be a good match for the job and the organization, however. So, if your skills and experience aren’t exactly in line with what the company is looking for, you’ll need to draw attention to other things that speak to your current abilities and your potential. For example:

  • Do you have outstanding interpersonal skills? Most employers today actively seek these attributes in job candidates at any career stage. Strong verbal and written communication skills, for example, are highly valued.
  • Are you passionate about learning? If so, emphasize it — especially if it looks like you’d need to complete some extended on-the-job training to help you get up to speed in your new role. 
  • What activities did you participate in both on and off campus, including volunteer work, internships and part-time jobs? These types of activities can help to show a hiring manager that your time at college wasn’t all about cracking the books — or playing Frisbee on the quad. 

So, if you’re worried about how the job search process will unfold after you graduate, be optimistic. Given the current dynamics, it could be a much smoother experience than you anticipate. Just be prepared to help hiring managers clearly see why an investment in you — even if you need some training — is an investment that ultimately will deliver strong returns to the business.

An infographic summarizing the April 2019 jobs report and survey data from Robert Half

APRIL 2019 U.S. BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS MONTHLY JOBS SUMMARY

263,000 JOBS ADDED*

3.6% UNEMPLOYMENT RATE*

2.1% UNEMPLOYMENT RATE FOR COLLEGE GRADS*/ **

UNEMPLOYMENT RATE OVER THE PAST 12 MONTHS*

    Unemployment Rate Unemployment Rate for College Grads**
  May ’18 3.8% 2.0%
  June ’18 4.0% 2.3%
  July ’18 3.9% 2.2%
  August '18 3.8% 2.0%
  September ‘18 3.7% 2.0%
  October ‘18 3.8% 2.0%
  November '18 3.7% 2.2%
  December '18 3.9% 2.1%
  January ‘19 4.0% 2.4%
  February ‘19 3.8% 2.2%
  March ‘19 3.8% 2.0%
  April ‘19 3.6% 2.1%

*Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

 

**College-degreed workers 25 and older

See what these results mean for job seekers and employers at roberthalf.com/blog.

DON’T SKIP THE REFERENCE CHECK

34% of senior managers said they remove candidates from consideration for a position with their company after a reference check.

Source: Robert Half survey of more than 2,800 senior managers in the U.S.

© 2019 Robert Half. An Equal Opportunity Employer M/F/Disability/Veterans.

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