With the second month of 2012 behind us, the employment situation continues to deliver moderate, but consistent growth. The economy added 227,000 nonfarm payroll jobs this month, yielding no change in the unemployment rate at 8.3 percent. Private-sector employment added 233,000 in February, with professional and business services aiding the increase by adding 82,000 jobs. Just over half of the jobs increase in professional and business services occurred in temporary help services, with 45,000 jobs added this month. Other gains were seen in computer systems design (+10,000) and health care employment, which has risen by 360,000 over the past 12 months.
A combination of recent, positive economic news and rising consumer confidence may be helping calm fears brought on by higher gas prices and lingering European debt concerns. In fact, according to a recent Conference Board survey of economists, U.S. consumer confidence registered a one-year high this month as optimism about the labor market offsets other concerns. Consumer confidence continues to be looked at closely, because steady increases may signal a boost in consumer spending - which makes up 70 percent of economic activity.
Also helping drive consumer spending are recent gains in American's income, up 5.7 percent in 2011, which contributed to the highest spending levels since 2007. With real wages and salaries growing more significantly over the past several months and an uptick in the consumer savings rate, Americans are better equipped to handle things like higher gasoline prices.
When you consider the recent findings of the Randstad Workmonitor Survey, improvements in real wages and salaries couldn't have come at a better time. U.S. workers appear to be increasingly affected by streamlined staffing levels and larger workloads. According to the survey, 44 percent of workers feel they fall short when they don't respond to email or phone calls immediately and 60 percent receive calls or emails outside regular office hours. With dwindling personal time, four out of ten workers admit to handling private matters during work.
So, where are the jobs being created in the U.S. and what are the hot job titles and industries? Well, it is no secret that we are seeing some incredible job growth in the engineering and also information technology fields. The demand for degreed, qualified individuals in these sectors remains very strong, and we predict that will only continue. In fact, according to Bloomberg News, a strong rise in hiring in the technology sector is driving a job market revival. Industry data supports what we have seen in our own business for many months - a demand for skilled workers, particularly those in the mobile application field. With three vacancies for every job seeker in the technology field, according to Bloomberg, we may be seeing the beginning of another technology jobs boom. Other key professions to watch in 2012 include finance and accounting, pharmaceutical and healthcare. In our own business, we continue to see high demand for jobs in these sectors, such as ICU registered nurses, nurse practitioners, pharmacy technicians, financial analysts, and civil engineers, to name a few.
The February jobs report is another positive sign that the U.S. economy is improving, and companies are back to investing and growing their business in 2012. As we break down these numbers, you can see it is evident that organizations are rethinking the way they hire and manage their workforce. Many companies are using temporary or contract labor to supplement their workforce and have the flexibility to meet the demands for their products and services. In February, the more than 45,000 temporary jobs added made up about 20% of total job creation.
SVP & Chief Employment Analyst, Randstad Holding US
national employment trends
- Non-farm payroll added 227,000 jobs in February
- Private-sector payroll rose 233,000 in February
- Health care: +49,000; Retail: -7,000; Professional and business services: +82,000
- Government: -6,000 jobs; Federal: -7,000; State: -1,000; Local: +2,000
- Temporary help sector rose by 45,000 this month
- Temporary help grew approximately four times faster than overall jobs in 2011
- February gains in temporary help marked the largest one-month increase since late 2009
- In February, temporary help services jobs were up 1.9% to 2,473,600
Randstad employment trends & research
- The Randstad Employee Confidence Index rose 1.5 points to 53.9 this month
- Marks highest level of employee confidence since May of 2011
- The Employee Confidence Index mirrors other economic indicators, such as job creation
- Confidence levels often translate into consumer spending, which makes up 70% of economic activity
- Six out of 10 U.S. workers prefer face-to-face contact over phone or email
- 75% of workers have access to the Internet at work, but only 19% say it makes them less productive
- Nearly a quarter (23%) admit to answering their phone or emails during business meetings
- 44% of workers feel they fall short when they don’t respond to email or calls immediately