May 2018 Jobs Report: Unemployment Dips to 18-Year Low

By Robert Half June 1, 2018 at 2:20pm

The U.S. economy continues to fire on all cylinders. Employers added 223,000 jobs in May, and the unemployment rate dropped to 3.8 percent, according to the latest jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The unemployment rate has not been this low since April 2000.

May job growth

The gain of 223,000 jobs in May beat analysts’ expectations and brought the number of jobs created in 2018 to more than 1 million. In fact, May represented the 92nd consecutive month of job growth.

The following sectors added the most positions in May:

  • Education and health services — 39,000 jobs added
  • Retail trade — 31,100 jobs added
  • Professional and business services — 31,000 jobs added
  • Construction — 25,000 jobs added
  • Leisure and hospitality — 21,000 jobs added

What employers need to know

The unemployment rate for college-degreed workers who are 25 or older, the professionals most highly sought by employers, was just 2.0 percent in May. Meanwhile, unemployment rates for many in-demand occupations — like financial analysts, accountants and auditors, and computer systems analysts — are even lower, according to first-quarter figures from the BLS. 

Given these dynamics, it’s no surprise that many companies are struggling to staff open jobs. A silver lining for employers is that college graduation season is here, and thousands of high-potential candidates are starting to enter the job market. 

It’s wise not to overlook these newly minted professionals. Instead, consider what they can bring to your organization. They may lack experience, but they are ready to learn and eager to make their mark. Also, most new college grads have developed a solid base of in-demand technical and soft skills, such as data analysis, critical thinking and communication abilities. 

If recruiting college graduates isn’t already a part of your staffing strategy, you may want to step up your efforts — or risk allowing your competitors to snap up the promising talent your business needs. 

What job seekers need to know

Low unemployment and a record-high 6.6 million job openings are two big factors working in your favor. Despite employers’ need for skilled talent, however, most remain very selective in the hiring process, especially when evaluating new college grads.

If you just earned your degree, you need to perfect your application materials. Ensure that your resume and cover letter are easy to read, highlight your relevant achievements, and are tailored to the job and company you’re targeting. (You can find a wealth of advice for writing a resume and cover letter on our blog.)

Emphasize to hiring managers your curiosity; your strong work ethic; and, above all, your knowledge of the company, its industry, and its unique challenges and opportunities. You can often make up for a lack of real-world experience by showing a passion for developing your skills and a commitment to delivering quality work.

Let us help you find the right fit

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

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