Jobs Data: Employers, Workers Are Hard To Find

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The data coming out would seem to indicate the labor market is as tight as might be possible. The headline numbers that came out Friday from the Labor Department do show that the pace of hiring slowed markedly in February.

Last month, companies added roughly 20,000 jobs in the United States, which is a far cry from the 181,000 positions that had been expected. Wintry weather had an impact here, but another data point speaks to the aforementioned tightness in the market, as the unemployment rate stood at 3.8 percent. January and December job additions were revised upward, by 12,000 positions to a respective 304,000 and 227,000 jobs.

As AP noted this past week, before Friday’s jobs numbers were released, job growth has been coming even as the pool of applicants, seemingly, has been shrinking.

But then again it seems people have been coming off the sidelines to find work again, which means the workforce has been growing, testing the waters again. That comes, the newswire said, as a rebound from the half decade after the Great Recession, where a great many people who were out of work stopped looking for work and were thus not defined as being unemployed.

Interestingly, the percentage of Americans spanning the 25 to 54 age bracket who are employed stands at 80 percent, which is a level not seen since before the recession.

The number of unemployed people, of course, includes part-time workers and those participating in the gig economy. Might the movement toward greater labor force participation also herald further uptake for the gig economy? As noted in our past research, 54 percent of gig workers also had a full-time job and more than 35 percent of professionals in the U.S. have participated in the gig economy.

“With so few people unemployed, businesses have increasingly begun recruiting more widely, including among people who hadn’t been looking for work,” reported the newswire. And as for the growth in the labor pool, where more people are looking for work, the total number had grown by 1.6 percent last year, said AP.