Jan 15, 2023 - Economy

Companies still hungry for U.S. workers

U.S. unemployment rate

Despite scary headlines about layoffs, most employers are still hungry for workers — underpinning a still-hot labor market.

For evidence, look at the unemployment rate (above), which at 3.5% is near a historic low.

  • Technically, if you include extra decimal places, the jobless rate hit 3.46% in December (hat tip: University of Michigan economist Justin Wolfers). That's a fresh half-century low.

Zoom in: The effect is being felt among minority groups too. The Black unemployment rate (5.7% in December) has only been lower one other period on record: 2019.

  • And for Hispanics or Latinos, the unemployment rate (4.1%) is hovering near the record low (3.9%) achieved two months earlier.
  • Both groups, however, have higher jobless rates than that of white Americans (3%) and the national rate.

Why it matters: The pace of jobs added each month has moderated, but there are still plentiful job opportunities for American workers.

  • The most recent data available — from November — shows roughly 1.7 open positions for each available worker.

Between the lines: Some economists anticipated the jobless rate might have to spike in order to bring inflation down. At least so far, that is not the case — inflation is receding, data this week showed, even as the unemployment rate drifts lower.

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