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The Bayard Brief — June 2023

Labor Market InsightsLabor Market Insights

May’s Job Gains Crush Expectations Despite Conflicting Undertones

The labor market delivered surprising gains in May with an impressive 339,000 jobs added—the highest since January’s blockbuster report kicked off 2023 with a bang. Once again, growth surpassed economists’ expectations against a backdrop of conflicting signals. By most metrics, unshakeable resiliency has defined the labor market. But the uncertainty of economic headwinds with an undercurrent of cooling leaves long-term forecasts up in the air. In the interim, May’s report offered plenty of good news, as a few more signs of slowing emerged.

Job Seeker Traffic

Jobseeker search traffic increased in May, approaching January’s heightened levels of activity and, per typical recruitment marketing trends, indicating solid jobseeker interest to round out the spring months. Within the same timeframe, Google queries followed a similar trajectory, with a slight upswing into June.

Click Trends

In May, clicks were down roughly 27% from last year (keeping in mind our caveat that 2021 and early 2022 are outliers after a more dramatic recovery for jobs and job seekers in those years after the initial pandemic crash). However, average clicks were only about 1% lower than May 2019, indicating, along with recent hire and quit rates, a return to pre-pandemic form.

What To Expect

So, what does May's performance mean for the state of hiring in 2023?

The first quarter saw a shift, albeit modest, in the balance of power from employees to employers: a slowdown in wages and job gains with increased labor force participation. Plus, job openings are seemingly starting to normalize, resembling pre-pandemic figures. Upswings in job growth may be owed to increased employer confidence, as companies have a better opportunity to hire and retain workers. As always, employers that maintain competitive wages and benefits through economic headwinds will come out ahead—and in an ever-changing market, avoiding attrition is key to weathering the storm.

Download the full Labor Market Insights report for June here.