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The Bayard Brief — April 2023

Labor Market InsightsLabor Market Insights

March Delivers Macroeconomic Progress, Meets Labor Market Forecasts

March’s employment gains fell nearly in line with economists’ expectations for the first time in months, with 236,000 jobs added and a slight tick down in unemployment to 3.5%. Compared to the last two job reports, the labor market is beginning to cool more significantly.

But given improvements on the macroeconomic front and steady gains in labor force participation, it appears the market is trending more toward long-term sustainability versus stagnation.

Job Seeker Traffic

March’s job traffic trends continue to level off following energized interest and searches in January. Traffic decline between January and March has been seasonally consistent even before the pandemic, and this month’s activity shows little disruption to this pattern.

Click Trends

In March, clicks were down about 13% from last year (caveat that 2021 and early 2022 are outliers, thanks to a more dramatic recovery for jobs and job seekers after the initial pandemic crash). Additionally, clicks were up by about 2% compared
to pre-pandemic levels in March 2019.

What To Expect

So, what does March’s performance mean for the state of hiring in 2023?

In recent months we have seen the balance of power shift back somewhat into the hands of employers—a trend likely to persist if the labor market continues along its current, steadying trajectory. High demand for labor as the economy recovered from shocks in 2020 left workers in a position to negotiate better pay, but that demand is easing as companies shed workers and tighten their belts by imposing hiring freezes in anticipation of an economic downturn.

Although hiring conditions are slated to soften, competitive employers should continue to prioritize employee satisfaction. If the economy does dip into a recession, it's likely to be shallow, and employers may find themselves at a disadvantage if they shed too many workers or if their workers, feeling disenchanted, jump ship for better pay and working conditions when it's over.

Today's job seeker is also particularly interested in flexibility. While fully remote work is still very much in demand (especially among women with childcare concerns and Baby Boomers, as well as workers with disabilities), younger workers actually appear increasingly motivated to spend more time in the office. With more and more employers finding a balance between fully remote roles and a return to the office, organized hybrid employment could offer the best of both worlds for companies and roles that can accommodate it.

Finally, today's jobseekers value opportunities to develop their skills and careers. Whether that includes leadership development, career coaching, or access to pathways for advancement, these growth opportunities can tip the scales in an employer's favor when wages and flexibility are also competitive.

Download the full Labor Market Insights report for April here.