December 2017 Jobs Report: Monthly Gains Cap Another Year of Growth

By Robert Half January 5, 2018 at 8:40am

Employers added 148,000 jobs in December, marking the 87th consecutive month of job gains, the longest streak on record.

All told, payrolls increased by nearly 2.1 million in 2017. It’s the seventh straight year job growth has topped 2 million.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the sectors that created the most new jobs in December were:

  • Construction — 30,000 jobs added
  • Leisure and hospitality — 29,000 jobs added
  • Education and health services — 28,000 jobs added
  • Manufacturing — 25,000 jobs added
  • Professional and business services — 19,000 jobs added

December 2017 unemployment rate

The December 2017 unemployment rate was 4.1 percent, unchanged for the third straight month and a 17-year low. At the beginning of the year, the unemployment rate stood at 4.8 percent.

The unemployment rate for college-degreed workers who are 25 or older — those in greatest demand by employers — was also unchanged in December, at 2.1 percent. It has fallen from 2.5 percent in January.

What employers need to know

Simply put, now is a good time to hire. Many economists believe that recently passed federal tax cuts will lead to even more hiring by U.S. businesses. This would increase competition for the skilled, experienced workers who are already in frustratingly low supply. 

New data confirm that companies continue to struggle to locate the talent they need to maintain or expand their operations. Nearly two-thirds of CFOs surveyed by Robert Half said it’s challenging to find skilled workers for current job openings. In fact, there were 6 million open jobs in October, according to the latest Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary from the BLS. Job openings have been at or near record high levels since June 2017.

Get ahead of the competition and start, or accelerate, your recruiting efforts now, especially if you have fresh hiring budget for 2018.

What job seekers need to know

If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to find a new job, be sure to put your best foot forward when searching. Spend some time updating your resume so it reflects your most recent achievements and an updated list of your skills and experience. Adjust the wording of your resume for each opening you target, pulling phrases and keywords from the job posting so hiring managers can see you have the qualifications they want.

Even though employers are having a hard time hiring for open roles, many remain extremely selective when evaluating potential hires. They’re holding out for the “perfect” candidate. A strong resume is the best way to show them you’re the person they’re looking for.

Check out our library of blog posts on how to write a resume for everything you need to know about putting one together.

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An infographic summarizing the December 2017 jobs report and survey data from Robert Half

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