February 2024 Labor Market and Economy Report: A Look at January's Trends

By Eliza Hetrick | February 21, 2024

Executive Summary

Job growth rocketed past expectations last month, with the U.S. economy seeing 353,000 new jobs added, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The most notable job gains were in the professional and business services, healthcare, retail trade, social assistance and government industries (of note, November and December’s job growth numbers were also revised upward, a signal that job growth in some industries was better than previously thought).

For the third straight month, the unemployment rate stood at 3.7%. The labor force participation rate also went unchanged at 62.5%. Both numbers indicate the country’s pool of available job seekers did not expand in January.

Year-over-year inflation cooled from 3.4% in December to 3.1% in January, driven by a decrease in energy prices. Wage growth improved to 4.5% year-over-year, a notable uptick from December’s rate of 4.1%. On the heels of that wage growth, “real” average hourly earnings (wages adjusted for inflation) also increased 1.4% year-over-year.

Unemployment rates, specific to the industries Actalent supports, were as follows: hospitals (1.6%), utilities (1.6%), professional and technical Services (2.5%), manufacturing (3.2%), and construction (5.4%).

Among skilled labor categories Actalent sources talent for, unemployment in software-hardware-IT- mathematics was 2.1%; architecture and engineering was 1.7%; and sciences (life, physical and social) was 1.7%.

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