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Are We Nearing Full Employment? What That Could Mean For The Job Market

According to the most recent jobs report released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate has remained unchanged at 4.1%. According to The New York Times, this is the sixth straight month that the unemployment rate has held steady. While the economy appears to be strong, this unchanged unemployment rate suggests that we may be nearing full employment—where nearly all who are willing and able to work are employed. This idea can be unsettling to some; after all, if the unemployment rate can’t go down any lower, it can only go back up. Additionally, employers scrambling to hire talent can increase wages across the board and drive up inflation.

While economists are debating just how close to full employment we are, there’s no denying some signs of being near. However, not everything about nearing full employment is bad news—wages are increasing, and job seekers will often find a lot of opportunities for them if they look around.

Additionally, there are several indicators that our economy is still strong. March 2018 was the 90th consecutive month of job growth—the longest streak on record. While job growth in March was lower than previous months, adding 103,000 jobs, economists attribute this to the fact that job growth in January and February was unsustainably strong. As these indicators remain steadfast, it is safe to say that we have a long way to go before job seekers will face more difficulty finding employment.

As for the job market, the labor force is continuing to grow, despite the ongoing retirement of baby boomers. Yet, as more people enter the workforce, employers are struggling to hire—and they’re making concessions.  “This is a great time to be a job seeker,” says Edward Fleischman, CEO of The Execu|Search Group. “Employers are offering higher pay, more training, and better benefits in order to attract the best candidates in the job market. If you’re considering looking for your next opportunity, now is a great time to make that move.”

For employers who are struggling to hire, Ed suggests being open-minded when reviewing a candidate’s background. “In this market, you may not find the perfect candidate, so it’s critical to instead look for a candidate with the transferable skills and the potential to grow within the company,” he explains. “As a result, you may find that when you invest in training your employees from day one, they will return that loyalty.”