March 2019 Jobs Report: Employers Add 196,000 Jobs

By Robert Half April 5, 2019 at 7:46am

U.S. employers added 196,000 jobs in March, according to the latest jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). That figure is above analysts’ expectations and significantly higher than last month’s job gains, which the BLS revised up to 33,000 from 20,000. After revisions for both January and February, job growth has averaged 180,000 per month in the first quarter of 2019.

The BLS reports that the following sectors created the most jobs in March:

  • Education and health services: 70,000 jobs added
  • Professional and business services: 37,000 jobs added
  • Leisure and hospitality: 33,000 jobs added
  • Construction: 16,000 jobs added

Unemployment rate unchanged

The unemployment rate held steady in March at 3.8 percent. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate for college-degreed workers who are 25 or older edged down to 2.0 percent from 2.2 percent the previous month. These workers are in highest demand by employers.

Other data from the BLS help to underscore the challenge that many employers face in the current hiring environment, with historically low unemployment and a persistent lack of skilled talent available for hire. According to the latest Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary (JOLTS), there were 7.6 million job openings in the United States at the end of January 2019.

What employers need to know

Employers must do many things — and well — to compete effectively for skilled professionals in this tight hiring market. That includes offering a standout compensation and benefits package, shining a light on your organizational culture, and moving as fast as possible in your hiring process. And then, once a top candidate agrees to join your company, you must do something else to ensure all of your hard work doesn’t go to waste: Offer an outstanding onboarding experience.

In-demand professionals expect a lot more from the onboarding process than just getting an office tour, an employee handbook, and maybe a first-day lunch outing with their new boss and teammates. For example, they would like to:

  • Arrive at the office to find their workspace and technology already set up for them.
  • Discover that they have a mentor or sponsor to help them navigate their new workplace. 
  • Learn more about how their contributions are going to make an impact at the company.

Also, new employees definitely don’t want to spend their first day filling out paperwork. So, if possible, send routine paperwork to new hires in advance.

A seamless, supportive onboarding process that extends well beyond day one helps set the right tone with new hires and sets them up for success. The experience that new employees have during their first days and weeks on the job is critical to helping them fit in and become productive fast. So, be sure to include a well-structured and high-touch onboarding process among the many things your organization does to engage top talent.

What job seekers need to know

When you’re searching for a job, you can become so focused on getting your foot in the door that you don’t think about what might happen after you start a new job. Will you have a lot of support from the outset and feel like the business is invested in your success? Or will you be thrown into a sink-or-swim environment, without any sign of a flotation device? 

First, never assume that a company will provide a comprehensive onboarding process that extends much beyond a first-day orientation. Yes, many leading employers are pulling out all the stops when onboarding workers — automating as much of the process as possible, offering extensive training on the company’s culture and values, ensuring new hires get ample one-on-one time with managers, and more. But many other businesses don’t do these things. 

Don’t let your onboarding experience be a journey of total surprise. During the interview process, consider asking the hiring manager questions such as:

  • Can you tell me about the company’s onboarding process? What does it entail, and how long does it last?
  • What type of training or professional development opportunities will be available to me during my first few weeks and months on the job?
  • How and when does the company typically measure a new employee’s performance?

The answers you hear not only will reveal a lot about the company’s culture but also will help you decide if it’s the type of environment you’ll thrive in. It also stands to reason that if the company offers a thoughtful and extended onboarding process, it truly cares about seeing its new hires succeed.

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

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