Steady hiring levels kick off 2013

The new year started off with encouraging increases in U.S. employment. Previously, some had expressed concern after a federal report found the economy surprisingly contracted during quarter four 2012. But most fears were allayed with strong jobs growth in January. With the unemployment rate essentially unchanged and upward revisions of hiring totals for the last two months of 2012, the January employment situation report bodes well for workforce numbers in 2013 and puts recruiting agencies at the forefront of talent acquisition.

In line with growth predictions
Total nonfarm U.S. employment rose by 157,000 jobs in January, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The total, while below that of December’s, mirrored hiring level increases predicted by most analysts. The unemployment rate, however, ticked up slightly to 7.9 percent from 7.8 percent the month before, although the BLS considered the increase negligible. 

More good news on jobs came in the form of large upward revisions for the jobs total recorded in the final two months of last year. November’s employment increase were initially recorded at 161,000 and then were revised to 247,000 new jobs. Likewise, December’s 155,000 employment increase was revised to 196,000 jobs gained. The BLS says the revisions stem from late-reporting businesses, which may signify January’s total will see an increase a month from now after revisions.

Construction, retail lead gains
Overall, January’s jobs growth was driven in large part by increased levels of hiring in construction and retail trade. BLS data showed retail employment rose by 33,000 positions in January and noted job gains at motor vehicle and parts dealers contributed heavily to this number.

Construction also increased its employment total by 28,000, with 26,000 of those jobs occurring in specialty trade contractors sector. Healthcare added 23,000 positions and manufacturing was essentially unchanged, though it saw an increase of around 4,000 jobs nationwide. Utilities also created 9,000 jobs in January.

With the country’s employment getting off on the right foot in 2013, expanding business operations and more optimistic hiring intentions will make services offered by staffing agencies a priceless resource for firms looking to find the most qualified talent.