The April jobs report came out at the end of last week, disappointing some economists and businesses. But one month does not an employment situation make. If we look at a six-month rolling average for employment we can see that we are headed in the right direction. There will be no magical or overnight recovery from the recession. And steady growth is more likely to be sustainable anyway.
A few indicators tell us where that growth is likely to come from. First, temporary employment is typically a leading indicator of permanent employment growth, and this category added 21,000 jobs in April. Some of that growth is due to companies deciding to contract out more work as they grow, and some is companies dipping their toes in the water to ensure that adding jobs is a good idea.
A second indicator is the continued trend in certain job categories, specifically, IT and health care. Today’s economic strengths are highly correlated to innovation and the rapid rate of change in our products and services. Jobs in technological fields support and create much of that innovation and change. A problem we face is developing enough of the right skills in people to fill these jobs. In health care however we are seeing slightly different trends. Jobs in home health care are growing due to our aging population, but jobs in “Physician Extender” health care careers will be the more permanent trend. The positions of Nurse Practitioner and Physician’s Assistant allow for a more cost effective health care delivery system. The underlying message here is that more unemployed, underemployed and discouraged workers need to find ways to develop new skills to remain employable.
A third indicator in today’s numbers is the addition of 29,000 jobs in the retail sector. During the past several months we have seen consumer confidence rise increase in addition to rising revenues at retail and restaurant establishments. This helps what economists call the “virtuous cycle” in which more consumer spending helps businesses to grow which in turn creates more jobs, leading back into more consumer confidence and spending.
Share with us where you think that jobs are likely to grow. What skills do you have the most trouble finding?