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LinkUp Remains Cautiously Optimistic About Friday’s Jobs Report; New Job Listings In Construction Rose 187% In March
Despite the rush of negative job growth news this week (ADP, Conference Board, etc.), we remain cautiously bullish (if such sentiment is possible) on the growing strength of the recovery of the U.S. labor market.
According to Department of Labor data, the U.S. economy added a net gain of 1.985 million jobs in 2012. The job growth in the private sector was a good deal stronger than that, with government payroll declines dragging net job gains down throughout the year. But even more encouraging than the consistent private-sector gains last year, job growth in recent months has accelerated dramatically, with net gains above 200,000 in 3 of the past 4 months. (The only miss was in January which is always a strange month for jobs, hiring, job listings, and job seeker activity in general).
Beginning last summer, we began to see hints in our jobs data that the recovery was gaining steam and accurately forecasted that job growth in Q4 would be much stronger than most were predicting. As background, LinkUp’s job search engine currently indexes 1.5 million jobs from 25,000 corporate websites throughout the country. Highly unique to the industry, LinkUp’s search engine does not include any listings from job boards. As a result, our search engine and the resulting data set contain none of the job board pollution that plagues sites like Indeed and Simplyhired and muddies other employment data sources such as the Conference Board’s Help Wanted Index. Job board pollution includes such things as job scams, identity theft posts, work-at-home garbage, lead-gen bait, money-mule fraud, and duplicate listings from recruiters, search firms, headhunters, and other 3rd party intermediaries. And because LinkUp updates its search results daily, there are no old or outdated job listings.
Starting in August, new and total job listings in our search engine rose for 5 straight months. With the exception of the previously-mentioned, usually-odd January, job listings on the 25,000 corporate websites in our index have continued to climb in February and March. With February’s 11.6% blended increase in new and total job openings, we are forecasting that the BLS will report on Friday that the U.S. economy added 366,000 jobs in March. While the slight dip in January gives us pause, Friday’s jobs report should be quite strong.
But in addition to the caution arising from the slight dip in January (hopefully an anomaly), our data from March could slightly dampen the mood on Friday. On a state-by-state basis, new job listings on LinkUp in March actually fell 1% and total job listings only rose 3%. 29 states saw declines in new job openings, although 35 states reported an increase in total job openings from February.
In terms of jobs by category, new job listings fell 2% and total job listings by category rose 3% from February.
Of particular note, and back onto the positive side of the ledger, new construction job openings across the country rose by 187% from February, and total job openings in construction rose 46% from last month. That statistic, in and of itself, might be enough to give everyone reason to cheer this week no matter what happens Friday. As we’ve been saying for months, the U.S. labor market is slowly but steadily recovering, and the underlying economy continues to show signs of strength. Last year, we saw huge gains in transportation jobs, a nice leading indicator of an economy in which things were finally starting to move. With the huge demand we’re now seeing for construction workers, the theme for this year might be that things are once again being built. So while there will certainly be some volatility throughout the year around job gains, the unemployment rate (which will most certainly rise at some point as more people return to the labor market), and the atrocious dysfunction in Washington, we remain cautiously bullish on the jobs front.