October 2019 Jobs Report: Employers Add 128,000 Jobs

By Robert Half on November 1, 2019 at 7:05am

Job creation in October was higher than many economists had expected, with employers adding 128,000 positions, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). 

The following sectors saw the most growth in employment in October:

  • Leisure and hospitality: 61,000 jobs added
  • Education and health services: 39,000 jobs added
  • Professional and business services: 22,000 jobs added
  • Financial activities: 16,000 jobs added

Since the beginning of 2019, the U.S. has seen job gains average 167,000 positions per month, or nearly 1.7 million in total.  

Unemployment rate up slightly to 3.6%

The unemployment rate in October was 3.6%. That’s up from 3.5% in September, which was a 50-year low. 

The unemployment rate for college-degreed workers who are 25 or older was little changed from September, edging up to 2.1% from 2.0%. These workers are in highest demand by employers.

The unemployment rates for many professional-level roles track well below than the national rate. For example, the unemployment rate for accountants and auditors was 2.0% in the third quarter of the year. The unemployment rate for administrative services managers was 1.3%. For web developers, it was just 0.9%.

Other data from the BLS help to highlight the challenge many employers face in the current economy, with low unemployment and a persistent lack of skilled talent. According to the most recent Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary (JOLTS), there were 7.1 million job openings in the United States at the end of August. 

Read our coverage of the latest JOLTS report for more insight into the labor market. 

What employers need to know

The end of the year is when many workers feel the itch to launch a new job search. And if they have in-demand skills and experience, they are likely to find many options in the current hiring market. 
In other words, the heat is on for your company to step up its retention efforts. 

To help prevent your team members — especially, your top performers — from exploring new job opportunities, confirm that you’re offering appropriate compensation. In a recent Robert Half survey, nearly half of professionals (46%) said they feel underpaid. (Use tools like our latest Salary Guides to gauge whether your company is hitting the mark with employee pay, perks and benefits.)

The second thing to reflect on is your management style. Separate research from our company shows that about half of workers (49%) have quit a job due to a challenging manager. The highest percentage of workers (54%) who reported making this decision were in the 18-34 age bracket, which includes millennial and Generation Z professionals. 

Move quickly to gather feedback from staff about your management approach. Based on what you learn, decide whether improvements in communication or training can help resolve any issues and increase rapport — before valued employees decide to move on. 

What job seekers need to know

If you’re looking to switch jobs before the end of the year, the wind might be at your back as you pursue your goal. The hiring market remains tight, and in-demand professionals can find they have multiple offers to choose from. And many firms are accelerating their efforts to staff open roles before year-end so they have the right teams in place to hit the ground running come January.

If your top motivation for seeking a new position is to escape a difficult manager, you are not alone. About half of all professionals in a recent Robert Half survey said they have left a job because of their boss. However, while no one should have to endure a toxic work environment, you may want to reflect on whether your manager is the true reason you’re considering jumping ship. 

For example, is your decision to quit a knee-jerk reaction to something that your boss said or did recently that disappointed or upset you? Or are you reacting to a pattern of challenging behavior by your manager and have finally decided that enough is enough?

Yes, self-reflection can be difficult, but it’s necessary to ensure you leave your job for the right reasons. 

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

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