November Jobs Report Preview: Job Market’s Gradual Descent to Continue


November 30, 2022

This Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) will release the November jobs report. Last month, the job market continued its gradual descent, with job gains slowing to 261,000 and the unemployment rate ticking up to 3.7 percent. Despite prominent reports of layoffs, especially in the tech sector in the last month, the labor market looks poised to continue shifting steadily into a lower gear.

Here are three trends we’ll be watching for in the November jobs report:

  • Jobs growth to gradually decline. Job gains slowed in October to 261,000 and are likely to slow further in October, falling to a rate closer to 200,000. Notably, job gains are likely to continue to exceed pre-pandemic levels. For example, job gains in 2019 averaged only 164,000 per month.
  • Unemployment rate flat. The unemployment rate rose to 3.7 percent in October in a surprise jump. The unemployment rate has oscillated in the last few months, but is likely to remain at a low level, despite month-to-month volatility. If the unemployment rate continues to rise, that would send up a red flag for recession watchers.
  • Wage growth to hold at 4.7 percent. Average hourly earnings likely grew year-over-year at the same pace in November as October. Wage growth has decelerated in recent months, so no deceleration year-over-year could still hide positive news for a Federal Reserve hoping to see inflationary pressures ease.

Measuring What’s Going on in the Tech Sector

The tech industry has experienced a wave of layoffs in the last month at major tech companies like Meta, Twitter and Amazon. While these layoffs have affected tens of thousands of workers, it’s unclear what impact we might see in BLS jobs data. 

Reports are often vague on where laid-off employees at these typically multinational companies are based. And while the labor market has cooled, laid-off workers in the tech sector who are able to find new employment before the next jobs report survey is conducted would not be counted as unemployed or off payrolls for that month. Additionally, the tech sector is ill-defined in government data. For example, an e-commerce company might be categorized in the “Retail trade” sector even if it is popularly considered a tech company. 

On top of that, the tech sector, as defined by the “Information” sector, employs a relatively small share of the American workforce. The “Information” sector accounts for just 2 percent of payroll employment as of October 2022. And even in a normal month, tens of thousands of workers are laid off in the “Information” sector, according to JOLTS data.

While tech layoffs may not appear visibly in government data, Glassdoor data does point to the deteriorating picture in the tech sector from employees’ point of view. In November, 17 percent of current full-time & part-time tech employees report that they have a negative 6-month business outlook for their employer, a 72 percent increase from the beginning of the year when it was a more placid 10 percent. This is also the highest level since 2014, beating the peak at the beginning of the pandemic.

While 17 percent may sound low, keep in mind that these opinions are from current employees who were not laid off. Current employees are generally more optimistic about their companies’ outlook, but the weakening in the tech sector suggests that even employees who avoided being laid off are feeling increasingly pessimistic.

When looking at specific tech companies, the impact of layoffs on employees’ perceptions of business outlook has varied. Some companies like Microsoft, Salesforce and Amazon have seen little impact on employee’s views on their business outlook. By contrast, companies that rode intra-pandemic trends like Peloton Interactive have seen a sharp decline in business outlook. Similarly, companies undergoing significant strategic shifts like Meta and Twitter have seen large drops in employee confidence in business outlook.

Conclusion

The labor market is gradually coming in for a landing. While prominent reports of layoffs, especially in the tech sector, may be darkening the mood for employees and job seekers, employers are still adding workers to payrolls at a solid pace. With a cooler October inflation report providing reassurance that the economy is still on track for soft landing, the case for cautious optimism moving forward into 2023 depends on further deceleration in inflation while the job market expansion still has legs.

Methodology

We analyzed business outlook ratings from current full-time & part-time U.S. employees on Glassdoor. Employees can rate their employers’ “6 Month Business Outlook” as “Positive”, “Neutral” or “Negative”. We calculated the share of all business outlook ratings that were “Negative”. To identify the tech sector, we rely on Glassdoor-defined industries.

To speak with Daniel Zhao about this report, please contact pr@glassdoor.com. For the latest economics and labor market updates follow @DanielBZhao on Twitter, connect on LinkedIn, and subscribe to Glassdoor Economic Research.