header2

engineering news and insight

Employment News Brief - August 3


As we entered the second half of the year this month, the employment situation surpassed economists’ expectations. The economy added 163,000 nonfarm payroll jobs in July and reported an unemployment rate of 8.3 percent. Private-sector employment added 172,000, with professional and business services continuing to improve by adding 49,000 new jobs this month (see more about STEM workers below). Manufacturing employment was strong this month, rising by 25,000, alongside increases in healthcare (+12,000) and temporary help services (+14,000).

Despite this better-than-expected news, economists remain skeptical that this type of job growth will remain throughout the remainder of the year. The Commerce Department recently reported that the gross domestic product in the April-to-June period slowed to 1.5 percent and there’s little indication of any improvement in the near term. While gas prices eased in the second quarter, recent reports are showing a slight uptick in the national price of self-serve, regular gas rising .10 cents in the last 14 weeks. Finally, falling new housing sales and weak home resales this month indicate a still-spotty outlook for the sector.
  • Within healthcare, employment in outpatient care centers contributed 4,000 new jobs, and hospitals rose by 5,000 jobs
  • Manufacturing rebounded this month adding 25,000, with nearly all of the increase in durable goods manufacturing and in fabricated metal products (+5,000)
  • Leisure and hospitality was a high growth sector in July, where employment in food services and drinking places rose by 29,000 over the month and by 292,000 over the past 12 months

 

STEM workers look to a bright future
Science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) workers stand at the forefront of innovation in the U.S. economy. The number of STEM jobs is expected to grow faster than average for all occupations from 2010 to 2020. As technological advances continue to reshape how we live and work, these workers will continue to be in high demand. 

  • In 2011, more than 3.6 million professionals were employed in computer and mathematical occupations
  • Nearly 2.8 million were employed in architecture and engineering positions
  • Approximately 1.3 million people were working in life, physical, and social science jobs
  • Together, these sectors accounted for 24.8 percent of the professional labor force

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in STEM services is projected to grow by 29 percent, adding about 2.1 million new jobs between 2010 and 2020. Employment in computer systems design and related services is expected to increase by 47 percent, driven by the growing demand for sophisticated computer network and mobile technologies. And, employment in management, scientific, and technical consulting services is anticipated to expand 58 percent.

consumer confidence levels rebound slightly
An unexpected boost in consumer confidence materialized this month, rising for the first time in five months as Americans reacted to the relief in gas prices and the previously projected improvements in job prospects for the latter part of this year. According to the Conference Board’s Index, which increased to 65.9 this month from 62.7 in June, the report showed a gain in the share of consumers anticipating better labor and economic conditions in six months.

Mirroring the uptick in consumer confidence, the Randstad U.S. Employee Confidence Index increased by 1.1-points to 52.2 in July after declining for three consecutive months.  Compared to this time last year, the Index is measuring 4.4 points higher and still remains above the positive confidence threshold of 50.0. Despite the U.S. economic indicators for the remainder of 2012, our own report suggests that workers believe in their abilities to not only find a new job if they had to, but nearly 40 percent are likely to do so.

contingent workforce continues to flourish
While many employers remain cautious about making full-time hires, temporary or contract hiring continues to be not only a stop-gap measure for organizations, but a permanent workforce model instead. In fact, companies today are re-evaluating their workforce model to determine the right mix of talent now, and for the foreseeable future. The growing need for financial flexibility and smart use of limited hiring and staffing dollars are just two of the many factors driving the increasing reliance upon an integrated hiring strategy. This month saw continued job increases in temporary help services, which posted an increase of 14,100 jobs after rising 21,100 the prior month. Temporary help service's market share was up to 1.91 percent in July from 1.90 percent in June and 1.88 percent in May.