March jobs report: Hiring growth and more jobs added in high-paying industries


After a disappointing February in which just 20,000 jobs were added to the economy, the job market is back on track, adding 196,000 jobs in March.

That's according to the latest report from the Bureau of Labor Statics, which also showed unemployment remaining at 3.8% and wages increasing by 3.2% from a year ago.

"I think the March report will reassure investors after the weak report in February brought about concerns of a possible slowing economy," Glassdoor's chief economist Andrew Chamberlain tells CNBC Make It. "The report is strong across the board and it's hard to find any weaknesses. It shows that even after 102 months of positive job gains, the economy still has room to grow."

Chamberlain, senior economic analyst Mark Hamrick, and Indeed Hiring Lab research director Martha Gimbel spoke with CNBC Make It about why the job market is still promising for those on the hunt and why concerns about a recession are premature.

A young woman at work.
Olga Reznikova

More jobs are being added in higher-paying industries

According to data from Indeed, middle and high-paying industries have seen faster job growth than low-paying industries since the end of 2017.

Middle-wage industries in particular, which include air transportation and residential building, were growing around two percent at the end of 2017. But in October 2018, these industries reached a high of 2.7%. Meanwhile, growth in high-wage industries, which include legal services and hospitals, accelerated to 2.3% in January 2019.

Although low-wage industries such as child care services and food and drinking establishments have seen slower job growth of around 1.5%, Gimbel says that in order to compete with higher-wage industries, employers in these fields are starting to increase pay.

For example, Hamrick says that the decision by McDonald's to end its lobby against minimum wage hikes and Target's decision to raise its minimum wage to $13 an hour are key signs that low-wage industries will continue to see more pay increases.

"All across the country you've seen the tendency for state and local governments to raise their minimum wage because the federal government isn't in the position to do it," he says. "So that helps to some degree to explain why we've seen lower-paid workers doing better."

Aside from the already employed individuals who are taking advantage of these pay increases and opportunities, Gimbel says that now is also a good time for the long-term unemployed to finally find employment. In today's tight labor market, she says, "the good news is that employers are having to look at workers that they might not have looked at in the past, and that includes the long-term unemployed."

She advises anyone who's been out of the job market for an extended period of time to update their resume with skills and qualifications that can be applicable to any industry. "The point is that people should be thinking about how their skills can transfer across a lot of different types of jobs and not get locked into this thing that 'because I did this before, that's therefore the area I need to stay in.'"

Man uses laptop to file his income taxes.
Kirsty L | Twenty20

Hiring may slow, but a recession isn't in the near future

Though February's numbers may have been alarming to some, Hamrick, Gimbel and Chamberlain agree that there's no need to worry about a recession just yet.

"There's no sign that one is imminent," says Hamrick, though he adds, "we know that one is inevitable at some point."

Gimbel adds that, "In 2018, we created, on average, about 200,000 jobs per month. That is astonishing at this point in the recovery and highly unlikely that the economy is going to keep that up moving forward. So if we drop down to creating 180,000 jobs a month, or 150,000 or even 100,000, that is OK."

Chamberlain says he's already seen a slight slow-down in job postings on Glassdoor. Between January and March of this year, the site saw a small 0.9% increase in postings, compared to 13.2% and 4.7% in 2018 and 2017, respectively.

Still though, he says, "there are about 6.5 million job postings sitting on Glassdoor right now. That shows it's still a very strong job market."

Watch 33-year old Bill Gates explain his hiring process, why he moved Microsoft to the Seattle area
Watch 33-year old Bill Gates explain his hiring process

10 years ago this month

In March 2009, the economy was in a deep recession and saw a loss of 663,000 jobs, according to The New York Times.

The unemployment rate was more than double today's rate at 8.5%, the highest level in more than a quarter century.

"It's really just about as bad as can be imagined," said Dean Baker, a director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, at the time. "There's just no way we're anywhere near a bottom. We'll be really lucky if we stop losing jobs by the end of the year."

Unlike today's economy, in which professional and business service jobs are continuing to see an increase in job growth, employers in in that industry cut 133,000 jobs in March 2009.

"We're just sitting here all day long looking for jobs on the computer, frustrated and scared as hell," New Jersey resident Henry Perez told The New York Times at the time. "I'm looking for anything."

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