November Jobs Report: A Helpful Overview

Each month, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which describes itself as “the principal fact-finding agency for the Federal Government in the broad field of labor economic and statistics,” releases their “Employment Situation Summary,” or what many of us in the industry refer to as the “Jobs Report.” It’s a detailed report which analyzes job growth or losses and other labor force statistics across many industries.

And each month, largely to spare you from having to sift through the lengthy report to glean everything you need, we provide you with a high-level overview consisting of leading and lagging professional industries, geographic highlights, and more. We also provide you with some timely and relevant economic and workforce management news not included in the Jobs Report.

November Jobs Report: A Quick Summary

Find the full November Jobs Report here.

We’re on a steady course, which is at least somewhat positive news since there have been recent concerns of a potential recession. From October to November, nonfarm payroll employment, which consists of nearly every U.S. employee with the exception of farmers, grew by approximately 263,000, and the unemployment rate remained steady at 3.7%. These numbers are no surprise. This month’s employment growth is nearly identical to the previous two months’ growth, and America’s unemployment rate has hovered between 3.5% and 4% all year.

 

The labor force participation rate, which is the percentage of the noninstitutional population (this excludes inmates and active-duty military) aged 16+ that is working, remained steady at 62.1%. Looking at this participation rate through a wider-angle lens, we see that it has crept up a couple of percentage points since the height of the pandemic but remains a couple of percentage points down from a decade ago. Outside of a catastrophic economic event such as another global pandemic or a sharp recession, we can expect this rate to remain steady over the coming months.

 

It is a very interesting time in the US labor market right, says Russell Williams, SVP of LHH Career Transition and Mobility North America, now as US unemployment is holding steady at 3.7%, corp. hiring remains strong, yet layoffs are on an the upswing thanks to inflation, supply chain challenges, rising interest rates, and the energy crisis. This uncertain economic outlook has many questioning is a recession coming so they are in wait and see mode. In mean time companies are focused on retaining critical talent as this remains a critical issue for most organizations.

 

Even though there has been a slight decline in voluntary quits from Sept to Oct, focusing on retaining top talent and high performers remains a critical talent and business issue for organizations, shares Kristen Leverone, Head of LHH Leadership Development North America. As many organizations are in the midst of strategic transformations, retaining and engaging their top leaders will be the x-factor in their ability to execute on these business strategies.

 

Leading and Lagging Industries

Here’s a quick breakdown of leading and lagging industries based on year-over-year changes in unemployment rates, for November 2021 and November 2022.

 

Leading Industries:

Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction – 8.6% unemployment rate to 3.1%

Information – 4.1% to 2.1%

Leisure and hospitality – 7.5% to 5.8%

 

Lagging Industries:

Agriculture and related private wage and salary workers – 5.4% to 5.6%
Financial activities – 2.0% to 1.9%
Professional and business services – 3.8% to 3.7%

 

Traditionally, the professional and business services industry does not fluctuate as significantly as some other industries, so there’s no need to worry about the flat unemployment rate. For example, the large decrease in unemployment among mine and quarry workers is highly influenced by the ever-increasing demand for fuels and various complexities related to logistics and suppliers. Job growth or decline in business services is affected by myriad factors, but is not often as reactive to those factors.

 

State or Region Highlights

Find the most recent state data here.
Here’s a quick breakdown of states with the highest and lowest employment changes, year-over-year, for October 2021 and October 2022.

 

States with Highest Employment Changes (rounded numbers)

Texas – Up 5.4%, from 12.9 million to 13.6
Florida – Up 5%, from 9.1 million to 9.5
Oregon – Up 4.5%, from 1.9 million to 2.0
Georgia – Up 4.4%, from 4.6 million to 4.8

 

States with Lowest Employment Changes (rounded numbers)

Wisconsin – Up 2.0%, from 2.9 million to 2.95
Montana – Up 2.1%, from 496,000 to 507,000
Oklahoma – Up 2.1%, from 1.65 million to 1.69

 

In most cases, the highest changes in job growth and number of employed individuals occur in the most competitive and populated states. What’s important, is to recognize anomalies in your state or region. An obvious example here is that Wisconsin, the country’s 20th most populous state, realized the lowest employment change over the last year. If you conduct business here, it may be worth asking why, and considering how it affects—or does not affect—your local talent pool and recruiting efforts.

 

In Other Economic and Workforce Management News

There’s been recent and noteworthy labor-related news not included in this month’s Jobs Report. First, in another BLS report, the “Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey News Release,” we learned that the amount of voluntary quits and job opening declined slightly from September to October by roughly one percentage point. Total separations, which consist of voluntary quits, layoffs, discharges, and other separations, increased slightly from 5.67 million in September to 5.68 million in October (October of 2021 was 5.85 million). These nominal changes should certainly be seen as normal.

 

In other news, U.S. salaries are expected to rise 4.6% from 2022 to 2023, with companies citing sharp inflation as the primary reason for the growth. To offset this increase, look for companies to potentially dial down certain employee benefits and/or increase the prices of their products and services. While inflation is generally expected to gradually slow from its current rampant pace, it remains to be seen if the aforementioned salary increase will surpass the inflation rate in 2023.

 

Main Takeaways

Remember to refer to the Jobs Report as one measure of the economy’s health, not the end all be all, particularly in reports when month-over-month and year-over-year changes are modest. It’s usually when we see positive or negative patterns related to the labor force—along with correlative economic signs around consumer price index, gross domestic product, etc.—when alarms should sound and we should consider how our companies may be affected.