November 2017 Jobs Report: Employment Gains Beat Forecast

By Robert Half December 8, 2017 at 4:18pm

November delivered a stronger jobs report than most economists had expected, with employers expanding payrolls by 228,000 positions, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Monthly job gains have averaged 174,000 since the beginning of 2017, for an annual total of nearly 2 million positions. 

According to the BLS, the industries that created the most jobs in November included:

  • Education and health services — 54,000 jobs added
  • Professional and business services — 46,000 jobs added
  • Manufacturing — 31,000 jobs added
  • Construction — 24,000 jobs added

Unemployment rate holds steady

The unemployment rate in November was 4.1 percent, which is unchanged from October and a 17-year low. The unemployment rate for college-degreed workers who are 25 or older was 2.1 percent — up slightly from last month but still about half the national figure. These workers are in highest demand by employers.

Other data from the BLS indicate that skilled workers are hard for employers to locate. There were 6.1 million job openings in September, according to the latest Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary (JOLTS). That number is little changed from August. The JOLTS survey also noted that job openings in the United States have been at or near record high levels since June 2017.

What employers need to know

If your organization needs to fill an open role, you’ll likely have your work cut out for you. You’ll face intense competition for skilled professionals in hot sectors like accounting, finance and technology. The BLS reports that unemployment rates for many in-demand occupations are well below the national rate. For example, the rate for compliance officers is 1.1 percent. For software developers, it’s 2.0 percent.

In this challenging market, hiring managers should be prepared to answer tough questions from potential hires. Top candidates are taking care to thoroughly evaluate job offers — especially if they have more than one opportunity to consider. More candidates are asking about healthcare benefits and costs, as well as job flexibility. Be proactive about offering details on your firm’s employee benefits package and programs designed to help staff maintain work-life balance.

What job seekers need to know

The end of the year can be a great time to seek new employment opportunities. Many companies are working hard this month to secure the talent they need to help achieve their business goals in the new year. Some organizations are under pressure to hire right now because they need to use the remainder of their hiring budgets by December 31. 

So, if you’re thinking about making a career move, don’t wait until January. Get out there now and start looking. Reach out to your professional network for leads and references. Better yet: Reach out to a specialized recruiter. These professionals can identify promising opportunities that fit your skills, experience and career goals and help put you on a faster path to an interview.

Let us help you find the right fit

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

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