Friday’s Jobs Report highlighted 235,000 gains in February and an unchanged unemployment rate of 4.7%. In addition to an increase in jobs which exceeded the previous three month average of 209,000, February also saw improvements in wages, with average hourly earnings increasing by 2.8%.
In addition to increases in jobs and wages, there was also a rise (though small) in the labor force participation rate, which reached 63%. The number of discouraged workers and part-time employees seeking full-time work decreased to 5.7 and 9.2 percent respectively, continuing to decrease since last year. While the economy is near full employment based upon the 4.7 rate, these broader measures are still higher than prerecession levels.
What does the continued strengthening of our economy mean for jobseekers and companies? The war on talent is fiercer than ever, with industries like finance and accounting experiences major shortages. In addition to increasing pay, companies looking to compete are also beginning to hire less experienced workers and offer more training to offset this.
With companies scrambling for talent, jobseekers have the ability to be much more selective when looking for a position than they were five years ago. While not every organization has the ability to offer significantly higher wages, companies who are able to get creative with benefits and perks are able to mitigate the challenge posed by the scarcity of talent.
Jobseekers and companies can both benefit from consulting a recruiting firm when it comes to navigating the competitive job landscape. While recruiters are able to grant companies access to large pools of untapped (and often passive) resources, they can also counsel candidates on how to approach the job market with regard to their value to ensure they are making the most of this restrained candidate market.