Monthly Hiring and Applicant Activity Meter

Published: November 8, 2021
Covering Data of October 2021

Summary for October 2021

October 2021 painted an undeniably positive picture of the labor market: the unemployment rate and jobless claims continue to fall and employment is up. However, smaller and medium-sized companies are still finding difficulties when hiring. Though the overall labor market is not yet at pre-pandemic levels, the data is pointing towards a healthier employment environment moving forward as we get closer to a full recovery.

The unemployment rate declined to 4.6% in October (from 4.8% in September and 5.2% in August)

The total number of nonfarm payroll employment rose by +531,000 in October (September 2021 was revised upwards to +312,00 and August 2021 was revised upward to +483,000)

Average earnings increased in October (over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by 4.9%).

Ten Takeaways for October 2021

  • The sector that led the way in decreased employment was local government education (-43,000) and state government education (-22,000).
  • Overall job searches by candidates were essentially unchanged in October per the Indeed Hiring Lab.
  • And though searches remain flat, job seekers seem to be “substantially less interested in lower-wage, in-person sectors”.  If an employer fits that criteria, rising wages may be the most realistic method to attract more applicants (via Indeed Hiring Lab).
  • Average hourly wages in October grew, “following large increases in the prior 6 months.” Over the past 12 months, the average hourly earnings have increased by 4.9% and the average workweek length decreased.
  • ADP breaks down data by company size (Small is 1-49 employees; Midsized is 50-499 employees; Large is 500+ employees). ADP’s October data shows +115,000 employment for Small business; +114,000 for Midsized and +342,000 for Large (source: ADP National Employment Report). 
  • According to one poll conducted by the National Federation of Independent Businesses, 26% of small employers are experiencing a significant staffing shortage and another 22% are experiencing a moderate staffing shortage (source NFIB).
  • Retail job openings hit 1.3 million in August according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and Challenger, Gray & Christmas projects 700,000 workers will be hired this season (CNBC).
  • Though most believe the labor picture is getting closer to pre-pandemic levels, “total employment is 4.2 million below – and the unemployment rate remains more than a full percentage point above – where it was in February 2020 (source: New York Times).  
  • For the second consecutive month, leisure and hospitality led the way with +164,000. Other industries seeing growth were professional and business services (+100,000); manufacturing (+60,000); transportation and warehousing (+54,000); construction (+44,000); health care (+37,000) and retail (+35,000).For the first time in several months, employment rose faster than predicted (October was +531,000 versus a +450,000 predicted (CNBC).