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Job Market: What’s Ahead for 2013?
 

By Joseph Coombs  12/19/2012

A year ago, many conversations about labor market growth came with a caveat: “It will depend on the election.”

While that contest has been settled, not much has changed for job seekers. As it was in early 2012, uneven economic conditions are still what weigh most on the U.S. labor market engine. Nonfarm payrolls grew at about the same monthly rate in 2012 as they did in 2011, and, currently, there is no hard evidence that jobs will be created at a quicker rate in 2013.

In addition, there’s this little fiscal mess in the U.S. government’s budget that could put a damper on things for a while.

Nonetheless, many organizations are calling for some improvement to the labor market this year. The year 2012 is ending on a strong note, according to SHRM’s Leading Indicators of National Employment (LINE) report. The December 2012 LINE survey showed that the hiring rate increased in the service sector for the last five months of 2012 when compared with the previous year. That occurred in four out of the last five months of 2012 in the manufacturing sector, as well.

The National Association for Business Economics expects the unemployment rate to average 7.7 percent through 2013, which is lower than the organization’s projection of 8.1 percent for 2012 and 9 percent in 2011. An average of 165,000 jobs will be added per month in 2013 according to NABE’s latest projections, which would put the pace of job growth slightly ahead of 2012.

Surveyed employers have a “positive outlook” in 12 of the 13 industry sectors, according to Manpower’s 2013 first quarter employment survey. The strongest sectors for hiring in the first quarter are expected to be wholesale and retail trade (a net of 17 percent that will add jobs), leisure and hospitality (14 percent) and professional and business services (13 percent), according to the report.

Only the construction sector (a net of 2 percent that will cut jobs) had a negative outlook for early 2013, according to Manpower. The company’s first quarter survey for 2013 is the most positive outlook for hiring during the January-March timeframe in the past five years.

Things might look better for college graduates in the spring of 2013, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). Its recent job outlook survey says that employers anticipate hiring 13 percent more graduates this year compared with 2012, with business, computer science and engineering-related degrees, as in years past, in highest demand.

HR professionals also should keep an eye on a handful of tech-related positions that will be in high demand in 2013, according to staffing services company Robert Half International (RHI). The company says mobile applications developers will see the some of the biggest salary bumps this year, with an average increase of 9 percent. With consumers’ increased reliance on cellphones, companies will be on the lookout for workers “who can develop for the small screen,” RHI says.

For more employment information, visit SHRM’s Labor Market and Economic Data page.

Joseph Coombs is a workplace trends and forecasting specialist at SHRM.

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