How do you feel about the job market? Probably pretty weird

Gotta love the bizarro world of job stats: Hiring is down and layoffs are up, yet unemployment is static. What gives?

Olivia Heller

Let’s say you needed to go out and get a new job tomorrow. How might that go for you?

It feels harder than ever to say for sure. It’s kinda strange out there, per The Wall Street Journal

  • Hiring dipped sharply last month — US employers added about half as many jobs in October as they did in September. 
  • Layoffs have been a constant this year (~250k people have been let go in the tech sector alone in 2023).
  • In the middle of all this, the unemployment rate sits at a historically positive number: 3.9%.

One thing’s for sure…

… people aren’t quitting like they used to. That whole “quiet quitting” thing that was all the rage last year may still be happening, but it has gotten really quiet. 

  • The “Great Resignation,” in which people were voluntarily leaving jobs at record rates in 2021 and 2022, has itself abruptly resigned. (The national quit rate, which had spiked to 3% as recently as last April, is back down to its pre-covid 2.3% rate.)

It’s making things even weirder for employers, most of whom factor natural employee attrition into head-count planning — and who may resort to strategies like buyout offers to maintain a normal churn rate. 

Every industry tells its own story

One reason why it’s hard to feel any certain way about the state of the job market: The vibes are heavily dependent on the industry you call home. 

  • Some fields — like health care and banking — are still seeing major labor shortages, while others — like retail and construction — have normalized, per USA Today.

The outlook in some professions (media and administrative support) is dour in the face of AI advancements. Others, like home health care and elderly support services, will have riches poured on them as the nation’s population ages.   BTW: There is one place quitting isn’t down — local governments, where officials are just getting up, leaving, and never coming back. Can’t blame ’em.

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