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What does the February jobs report tell us?

Team Glider

Updated on March 20, 2024

According to the February 2024 US Bureau of Labor Statistics Jobs Report, hiring has remained strong and beaten expectations again despite lingering fears of inflation, and high interest rates. The employment figures for December and January were also adjusted downward.

Job Growth and Unemployment Rates

In February, total nonfarm payroll employment surged by 275,000 jobs, reflecting robust growth across various sectors of the economy. Key industries, including health care, government, food services and drinking places, social assistance, and transportation and warehousing emerged as primary contributors to employment expansion. 

Ben Walker, COO at Glider, notes, “Glider’s assessment demand from our U.S. customers is highly correlated to BLS data. In effect, Glider usage is a leading indicator of employment statistics based on the roles companies are actively filling. Although nothing like the levels we saw in late 2022 and early 2023 as post-pandemic hiring was still in full swing, over the past three months we’ve seen a 27% year-over-year increase in assessment demand across both technical and non-technical roles.

However, despite this increase in job numbers, the unemployment rate rose to 3.9 percent, marking a 0.2 percentage point increase from the previous month. 

There was a rise in the unemployment rates for adult women to 3.5 percent and for teenagers to 12.5 percent. However, the jobless rates for adult men remained relatively stable, with little to no change observed.

Long-term unemployment remained largely unchanged, with 1.2 million individuals jobless for 27 weeks or more, constituting 18.7 percent of all unemployed people.

The labor force participation rate and employment-population ratio, both unchanged in February, suggest stability rather than expansion in the workforce.

Industry-Specific Insights

Several key sectors experienced significant job gains in February, driving overall employment growth. Notable expansions were observed in health care, government, food services, and drinking places, social assistance, and transportation and warehousing.

Joseph Cole, VP of Marketing and Research at Glider, adds, “The US economy continues to propel ahead despite lingering market concerns about inflation and jobs. The reality? Companies remain profitable. I believe the data from this job report will translate to continued job growth and low unemployment, especially in human-centric jobs like healthcare. The unfortunate phenomenon that persists is a perception that the job market is dire. Let’s not think our way into a recession. General indicators are good, and from a Glider AI standpoint, we’re seeing an uptick in companies using skill assessments to hire for hard-to-fill and highly skilled roles.”

  • Healthcare: The healthcare sector added 67,000 jobs in February, surpassing the average monthly gain over the past year. Job growth was particularly strong in ambulatory healthcare services, hospitals, and nursing and residential care facilities, underscoring the sector’s resilience and continued demand for healthcare services. 
  • Government: Government employment rose by 52,000 jobs in February, with gains primarily driven by local government and federal government initiatives. This trend reflects ongoing public sector hiring efforts aimed at addressing various social and infrastructure needs.
  • Food Services and Drinking Places: Employment in food services and drinking places increased by 42,000 jobs in February, signaling a positive outlook for the hospitality industry. Despite challenges posed by the pandemic, the sector continues to rebound, albeit with some fluctuations.
  • Social Assistance: The social assistance sector added 24,000 jobs in February, in line with the average monthly gain observed over the past year. Job growth in individual and family services underscores the importance of support networks and social welfare programs in fostering community well-being.
  • Transportation and Warehousing: Employment in transportation and warehousing rose by 20,000 jobs in February, driven by gains in couriers and messengers. 
  • Retail Trade: Retail trade employment saw minimal growth of 19,000 jobs, with little change observed over the year. Job gains were noted in general merchandise, health and personal care, and automotive retailers, partially offset by losses in building material and electronics retailers.

Wage Growth and Working Hours

Average hourly earnings for all employees increased by 0.1 percent to $34.57, with a 4.3 percent increase over the past 12 months. The average workweek for all employees increased by 0.1 hours to 34.3 hours in February, following a decline of 0.2 in January. 

Looking Ahead: Key Hiring Trends for 2024

Considering the February job report, here are key hiring trends to watch for in the coming months:

  • Continued Industry Resilience: Industries like professional and business services, health care, and retail trade are expected to remain strong, driving job growth and contributing to economic stability.
  • Skills-based hiring: Companies will prioritize candidates with diverse skill sets and the flexibility to adapt to changing job roles and responsibilities. Upskilling existing employees would also be a priority to meet evolving demands.
  • Rise of Online Hiring Platforms and Offshoring: Online hiring platforms will witness a surge in usage, catering to companies’ offshoring needs amidst talent shortages. With businesses embracing remote work, the demand for global talent will continue to rise.
  • AI in recruiting:  AI will lead the charge in revolutionizing the recruitment process. It will not only automate tasks but also enhance the quality of hire. Pre-employment skills-based assessments and behavioral tests will shape the hiring landscape in 2024. 
  • Contingent Staffing: The rise of contingent staffing, including gig and contract work, adds another dimension to the workforce landscape. Companies are increasingly relying on flexible staffing solutions to meet fluctuating demand and address skill gaps efficiently.

While some sectors continue to face challenges, the healthcare industry has emerged as a cornerstone of the robust labor market. Key points:- 

  • Healthcare employment surged by 3.9% in 2023, outpacing the 1.5% growth rate seen in other industries, signaling a robust recovery.
  • With 654,000 new jobs added last year, healthcare contributed significantly to overall U.S. job growth. 
  • Outpatient care saw a remarkable 9.6% increase since the pandemic’s onset, whereas hospital employment rose by 3.7%. 
  • Healthcare has also been the leading driver for the labor market in 2024 with 67000 new jobs in February.
  • Nurse Practitioner is the highest-growing occupation in the country with a projected growth of 46% by 2031. 

Navigating the complexities of healthcare recruiting poses its own set of challenges. Glider AI offers a solution tailored to meet the demands of modern recruitment by automating and accelerating the process of sourcing quality healthcare talent. With a mobile-first, candidate-friendly experience, Glider AI streamlines healthcare recruiting, helping organizations overcome hiring obstacles and secure top talent efficiently.


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