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The labor market has made gradual progress in the past couple of years. When 2012 came to a close, the nation’s unemployment rate stood at 7.8 percent , nearly a full percentage point lower than a year earlier, according to a recent report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The number of “job losers,” or those who were unemployed because they lost their job through layoffs, decreased in 2012 for the third consecutive year, according to BLS.
So we’re creating more work and shedding fewer jobs. Most economists and labor market watchers expect that to continue for the second half of 2013, although recent trends suggest that job creation will trail off a bit as the year comes to a close.
An average of 183,000 jobs were created each month in the first half of 2011, followed by an average of 167,500 in the second half of that year, according to BLS data. In 2012, the labor force grew by an average of 185,100 jobs each month in the first half of the year, followed by a slight decline in the latter half of the year (average of 180,300 jobs per month).
Through May 2013, the labor force grew by an average of 189,200 jobs per month, according to preliminary data from BLS. Here is what some organizations are forecasting for the July-December timeframe in 2013 and beyond:
In its May 2013 outlook, the National Association for Business Economics (NABE) called for the nation’s unemployment rate to fall to 7.5 percent in the third quarter of 2013, to 7.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013 and to 6.8 percent by the fourth quarter of 2014. NABE’s economist panel also expects job creation to pick up in the next 18 months: Panel members are calling for an average of 168,000 new jobs per month in 2013 and 198,000 jobs per month in 2014.
Members of the Federal Reserve Board had varying opinions at their June meeting, but their predictions for the unemployment rate at the end of 2013 ranged from 6.9 percent to 7.5 percent. Labor market conditions have “shown further improvement in recent months,” on balance, but the unemployment rate remains elevated, the Fed said in a statement.
Staffing services company ManpowerGroup says that 22 percent of U.S. employers will add jobs in the third quarter of 2013, a four-year high, according to its outlook for the July-to-September timeframe. Manpower says surveyed employers have a positive outlook for the third quarter in all 13 industry sectors, including leisure and hospitality (30 percent will add jobs), wholesale and retail trade (20 percent will grow payrolls) and construction (18 percent will hire in the third quarter).
The company’s global outlook is not as rosy for the third quarter. Manpower says employers in 31 countries and territories will boost payrolls in the third quarter of 2013, down from 32 in the second quarter. Hiring optimism was up in 17 countries and territories for the third quarter of 2013, but down in 21 when compared with the second quarter.
Those seeking summer jobs may have more luck in 2013, according to employment services company CareerBuilder. Nearly three in 10 employers (29 percent) plan to hire seasonal workers this summer, up sharply from an average of 21 percent from 2008 to 2011, according to a recent CareerBuilder survey. Employers in leisure and hospitality (47 percent), manufacturing (34 percent), information technology (34 percent) and retail (33 percent) are the most likely to hire summer help, according to CareerBuilder.
Staffing services firm Robert Half International checked in recently with chief information officers (CIO), and 12 percent said they expect to expand their information technology (IT) teams in the third quarter of 2013, according to the survey. However, 69 percent of the surveyed executives said it’s “somewhat or very challenging” to find skilled IT professionals today.
For more information, please visit SHRM’s Labor Market and Economic Data page.
Joseph Coombs is a workplace trends and forecasting specialist at SHRM.
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