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The Bayard Brief — March 2023

Labor Market InsightsLabor Market Insights

Service Sectors Drive February Gains as Macroeconomic Anxiety Persists

On the heels of January’s staggering results, February’s job gains once again beat expectations with 311,000 new nonfarm payrolls—well above economists’ predictions of around 200,000 jobs.

Job Seeker Traffic

On the whole, February's job traffic trends leveled off following energized interest and searches in January. Traffic decline between January and February has been seasonally consistent even before the pandemic, and this month's activity shows little disruption to this trend.

Click Trends

In February, clicks were down more than 21% 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 crash). Additionally, clicks are down roughly 17% compared to pre-pandemic levels in February 2020.

What To Expect

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

The labor market remains historically tight, with around 1.9 job openings available for every unemployed worker. But moderating employer demand, together with cooling wage gains, suggest that workers’ leverage may be growing more tenuous.

A decline in the average workweek combined with another uptick in labor force participation means that worker supply is up, at least comparatively. And the benefits for job switchers are less compelling in a shaky economy, where achieving stability becomes more attractive to workers. All of these factors place employers in a better position to attract and retain talent.

That said, successful recruitment still hinges on employers’ ability to provide stable and meaningful employment that meets job seekers’ needs. Meeting job seekers’ needs is essential to avoid attrition, especially after macroeconomic conditions become less volatile.

This labor market’s unique evolution presents a prime opportunity for employers willing to identify and understand what job seekers need. As always, competitive wages reign supreme, but offering additional perks and benefits, like remote work opportunities, gives employers an edge. Similarly, viable paths for advancement give workers a reason to stay while reducing hiring costs.

Studies show that workers with flexible schedules often extend their workdays or work unconventional hours to accommodate leisure activities during standard hours.
Remote flexibility can help workers balance day-to-day needs and avoid burnout.

Moreover, the availability of remote roles has allowed people with disabilities to return to the workforce. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment rate for people with disabilities reached a new high in 2022, climbing from 19.1% in 2021 to 21.3% in 2022.

Download the full Labor Market Insights report for March here.