July 2018 Jobs Report: Unemployment Rate Dips to 3.9 Percent

By Robert Half August 3, 2018 at 7:23am

Employers expanded payrolls by 157,000 jobs in July, according to the latest report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). That figure is below analysts’ projections of 190,000. However, revised numbers for May and June show that employers added 59,000 more positions than previously reported. 

Job gains have totaled more than 1.5 million since the start of 2018, for an average of 215,000 positions per month.

Employers in the professional and business services industry led job creation in July, growing their payrolls by 51,000. Employment in temporary help services (27,900 jobs added) and computer systems design and related services (8,000 jobs added) contributed to that increase. Over the past 12 months, organizations in professional and business services have added 518,000 positions.

The following sectors also saw notable job growth in July:

  • Leisure and hospitality — 40,000 jobs added
  • Manufacturing — 37,000 jobs added
  • Education and health services — 22,000 jobs added
  • Construction — 19,000 jobs added
  • Wholesale trade — 12,300 jobs added

Unemployment rate drops slightly

The unemployment rate edged down to 3.9 percent in July. The unemployment rate for college-degreed workers who are 25 or older also decreased slightly to 2.2 percent. Most employers specifically target this group of workers when they are hiring.

Low unemployment and new job creation are contributing to another trend in the United States: millions of open jobs. Employment data from the BLS shows that there were more than 6.6 million open jobs in the United States at the end of May, the most recent month reported on. Any way you look at it, it’s clear the demand for skilled talent continues to exceed supply.

What employers need to know

As summer winds down, you may find your business needs to staff up — fast. Student workers soon will be heading back to school, or they may already be well on their way. And professionals like teachers who sought summer work may be returning to their full-time jobs. Of course, that doesn’t mean the need for these workers departs with them.

Two recommendations as you deal with summer vacancies: 

  1. First, be sure to maintain contact with seasonal employees. You may want to bring them back again next summer or even offer them a full-time role if the opportunity arises. (For example, if you really like the work of a college intern and think she’s a great fit for your organization, make sure your firm is first in line to offer a job when she graduates in the spring.) 
  2. Second, look to temporary and contract professionals to help keep your business running — and your core staff from getting overloaded — while you sort out your staffing needs for the remainder of the year. An additional advantage of relying on temporary professionals is that you can identify people you might want to bring on board full time. So, you can make sure work gets done while also connecting with potential hires: a win-win.

What job seekers need to know

If the summer job you loved is coming to an end, don’t let the relationship you’ve forged with the employer languish after you leave. You may want to work for this firm again in the future. At the very least, the people you worked with can be valuable contacts to add to your professional network. They may become important sources of job leads and references.

Be sure to stay connected with your summer work colleagues on LinkedIn. If you’re a college student, stop by the employer’s office during your holiday break to say hello and maybe grab coffee or lunch with your former coworkers. If you’re interested in rejoining the company, either as summer help or a full-time employee, try to arrange a meeting with your former manager to plant the seed and find out what steps you could take to make that happen.

Monthly Jobs Summary: July 2018. An infographic summarizing the July 2018 jobs report and survey data from Robert Half

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