Amid last week's disappointing news reports of slowed hiring and people dropping out of the labor force altogether, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) also released info in its Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary (JOLTS) that indicates people are quitting their jobs and picking up work in a freelance capacity. This has been discussed in numerous other studies, including this recent one from Intuit that made headlines for claiming that by 2020, 40% of Americans will be freelancers. This report also pointed out 19 other demographic, economic, social, and technology trends to watch over the coming decade, including interesting comments on the reduced costs associated with starting a small business, how seniors are "unretired", and the rise of niche markets.
Last week's jobs report indicated a hiring trend as the economy added 171,000 new jobs, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics released revised numbers for September and August showing improved hiring for those months, as well. The Employment Situation Summary also showed a slight increase in the unemployment rate to 7.9% (as a result of increased labor force participation - more people actively seeking work).
The Labor Department released its latest numbers on initial unemployment claims, and it's looking good! Reuters also reports the "four-week moving average for new claims, a more reliable measure of labor market trends, declined 4,250 to 361,750."
A few days ago, NPR had a story echoing what we've been seeing in the employment industry: new jobs are being created, old jobs are returning, companies are hiring, and people are finally starting to feel it - even if just a little bit.
While the economy is still nowhere near excitingly high bubble-like numbers, it's been improving steadily and is much less of an employee-saturated environment. The most recent Pew poll reflects a 10% rise in economic optimism from last month and a majority of respondents saying they feel the economy is already or will soon be recovering.
The most recent BLS report says:Nonfarm payroll employment rose by 227,000 in February, and the unemployment rate was unchanged at 8.3 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Employment rose in professional and businesses services, health care and social assistance, leisure and hospitality, manufacturing, and mining.
Things are considerably less bright depending on where you live. While Chester County (PA) held a 5.4% unemployment rate in December 2011, Salem (NJ) and Philadelphia (PA) counties saw unemployment rates of 10.7% and 10.1% respectively, in that same timeframe.
Even still, unemployment for the entire Philadelphia/Camden/Wilmington statistical area has improved over the previous year. And a recent Bloomberg BusinessWeek article states that "Manufacturing in the Philadelphia region expanded in March at the fastest pace in almost a year as factory employment picked up." Philly.com reports that now is the time for teens and students to start looking for summer jobs, and provides some excellent resources to help get started.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics has released its latest forecast for the fastest growing jobs - and predicted a drop to a 5.2% unemployment rate by 2020. Among the highest paying jobs on this list are veterinarians, biomedical engineers, medical scientists, physical therapists, audiologists, dental hygienists, and diagnostic medical sonographers - all with median annual salaries between $64k-$82k in 2010). Other fast-growing jobs also include a heavy dose of healthcare industry positions including personal care aides, home health aides, occupational therapy assistants, physical therapy assistants, medical secretaries, marriage and family therapists, health educators, and mental health counselors - all with considerably lower median wages.
While we're also expecting growth in the construction industry, the bulk of those jobs have median salaries in the $20k - $30k ranges. (Cost estimators are the notable exception with median annual salaries of nearly $58k in 2010.)
The BLS also points to growing needs for event planners, interpreters and translators, and bicycle repairers - a nice addition to the mix.