November of this year was a solid month for some United States Department of Labor indicators. Employers nationwide offered 321,000 new jobs this month to eager employment seekers marking 2014 as the most substantial year for job growth in 15 years.
Overall, job growth has not spiked this much since 1999. The number of employers offering jobs across the nation exceeded national projections. According to CNN, the hiring upsurge where 321,000 jobs were created far surpassed the monthly “hiring” predictions made by a number of surveyed economists. Those surveyed expected a gain of approximately 228,000 new jobs. November’s job growth surge this month is comparable in magnitude to the one experienced during the month of January 2012.
According to Patrick O’Keefe, director of economic research at the accounting firm Cohn and Reznick, job growth this high seems almost baffling. This is especially true when compared to the negligible growth over the past decade or so. However, O’Keefe feels the upward trend is long due as employers are favorably compensating for hiring practices that were put off earlier in the 5-year economic cycle.
Rates of unemployment this year have not fluctuated much and have been holding steady at the rate of 5.8 percent. Compared to this time last year the unemployment rate was at 7 percent. That is a drop of 1.2 percent according to a government report released last week. Moreover, Americans who had been searching for work at least six months fell to 2.8 million. That is a reduction of 101,000 fewer people out of work over that time frame.
Other labor market indicators in 2014 were less impressive. For example, available hours for employees during an average work week improved only slightly from 34.5 hours to 34.6 hours. Wages moved just marginally forward. Although hourly earnings crept upward by 0.4% or nine cents on the dollar, wage earnings still remained stagnant at 2.1% the past year. Stagnant wage earnings are a growing concern for policy developers at the Federal Reserve.
Slow rising wages are likely because it is an employer’s market. Therefore, employers can select from a large pool of job candidates, especially those disheartened employees anxious to get back into the workplace. As a result, hiring organizations may not be as compelled to offer higher salaries for employees. That is changing, claims O’Keefe who anticipates higher wages in the near future.
Paul Ashworth, economist at Capital Economics adds, “Labor market conditions are [rising] at breakneck speeds.” Just about every major industry is hiring nationwide. According to Joel Naroff of Naroff Economic Advisors, “[Everyone] seems to be on the …bandwagon.”
Job growth in the year 2014 has been highest in industries such as business and professional services. Tracking data shows a substantial number of new job-hires in bookkeeping and accounting.
Hiring has also risen in retail sectors. There were many new jobs available at automobile dealerships and apparel stores. In anticipation of a more robust holiday shopping season, Wal-Mart and Kohl’s each have added higher percentages of seasonal workers this year. FedEx and UPS have also fortified their ranks with more available jobs this year.
In addition to job growth at professional, retail and business services, other industries on the hiring bandwagon include education and health services, hospitality and leisure, manufacturing, drinking and food services, construction, financial services, transportation, warehousing and government sector careers. For many Americans, the month of November and the year 2014 has brought in the kind of job growth that has not been experienced in years.
By D’wayne Stanelli
Image courtesy of Michael Fleshman-Flickr License