With the newest indication that the labor market might have reached its apex and job growth could decelerate in 2020, an even portion of U.S. companies registered employment increases and decreases for the first time in 10 years. The survey findings from the National Association for Business Economics (NABE) came after a government report indicating that job openings saw the biggest drop in over four years in November, Reuters reported.
The survey is based on the replies of 97 members of NABE on the state of business in their sectors or firms during the time period of Dec. 23 to Jan. 8, showing conditions in the fourth quarter (Q4) as well as the near-term outlook. Drops in employment were seen in the information, utilities and communication industries, among others. There were employment gains in the insurance, real estate and finance sectors.
NABE Business Conditions Survey Chair Megan Greene said, according to the report, “For the first time in a decade, there are as many respondents reporting decreases as increases in employment at their firms than in the previous three months.”
The deceleration in employment gains has been credited to trade tensions, particularly the trade war between the U.S. and China, as well as worker shortages. The survey displayed a significant uptick in the portion of firms registering a lack of unskilled workers, and almost half noted skilled worker shortages.
In late December, news surfaced that the number of people in the United States who were filing for unemployment continued to drop. Claims for unemployment benefits fell by a projected 13,000 to 222,000 for the week concluding Dec. 21. The decline was projected to be at 224,000. At the time, it was also noted that there was a surge in signups earlier in December, which seemed to be connected to a later Thanksgiving Day in 2019 compared to 2018.