Like purple crocuses amid patches of snow and first faint buds on trees, early signs of growth in the job market and sprouting across the U.S. economy.
The tulips popped up with today’s Bureau of Labor Statistics report of 192,000 jobs created in February. Spring in the air as the jobless rate declined to 8.9 percent, down a half percentage point in the first two months of the year.
Yet the economy also has bloomed in other fields the last two weeks from Society of Human Resource Executives and the Federal Reserve and more.
Here then are our seven signs of spring in various employment reports:
- Staffing firms are reporting growth in openings in seven of the 12 Federal Reserve regions, and several report increased conversation of temp to permanent hires, according to the Federal Reserves’ Beige Book report this week. Every region of the country experienced “some degree of improvement” in job markets, the Fed report noted.
- College hiring climbed in February, the National Association of Colleges and Employers reported. Its index rose in February and is at the highest level since it was launched in October 2009. On-campus hiring for graduates and interns this spring is likely to be brisk this spring, NACE predicted.
- Sectors hiring in February were numerous, according to the BLS, and ranged from restaurants to specialty trades contractors, management consulting firms to trucking companies to nursing care facilities. Plus, the number of long-term unemployed fell for the second month, which means some people are landing jobs even after six months or a year of joblessness. The February statistics, the Washington Post says, represent “perhaps the best all around jobs report in three years.”
- Starting pay is rising. For five months running, employers have offered higher initial compensation, with a 5 percentage point gain, according to the Society of Human Resource Executives monthly line data. Towers Watson’s new report on merit increases this year also has encouraging gains for top performers.
- The number of job openings aggregated by SimplyHired.com climbed 49.7 percent in February compared to a year ago. Seventeen of the 18 industries showed increases in its monthly report – and a few employers doubled their number of job postings in the last year, SimplyHired.com said. Among them: Home Depot, HCA, Dell, UnitedHealth Group and CitiGroup. (((Yes, for each job these companies posted last year they had two or two and a half jobs posted this year, a 110 percent increase compared to a year ago, according to SimplyHired.))
- Small businesses have been hiring for 12 straight months, according to the ADP National Employment Report. In many of those months, small businesses with fewer than 50 workers added far more jobs than did mid-size or large companies of 500 or more workers.
- The start of labor scarcity is already being spotted. Human resources managers expect a global shortage of skilled workers. That and the large number of boomers leaving the workforce at the same time are the top trends in a new Society of Human Resources Management report.
Whether they bloom into a full-blown employment crop remains to be seen. High oil prices and economic and political instability in other countries could bring another chill to U.S. hiring, Another currency crisis like the ones last year in Greece and elsewhere also would hinder employment recovery. Certainly for the 6 million job seekers who have been looking for six months or longer, the spring air still feels cold and infertile.
Yet economists and others are saying this time the job growth could take root and flower. We need the 192,000 jobs added in February to multiply and grow to a bumper crop of new jobs every month this year.