Invest Hamilton County

Memos From Mike

About that Labor Market
February 12, 2024

The U.S. Economy added over 350,000 jobs in January… a great month with a lot of positive momentum to show. This comes amid headline after headline on high profile firms laying off workers, so what’s going on and how does it affect our local market? 

Overall, employer demand is far below the 2021 and 2022 peaks and, generally, is at its lowest point in five years. But with still over 9,000 new open positions in January, and strong openings projected for February, growth is on the horizon for local businesses.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Professional and Business Services and Health Care both saw over 70,000 jobs added nationwide. Health care averaged 58,000 jobs gained per month in 2023, but Professional and Business Services only averaged 14,000, representing a large monthly increase. Some evidence suggests many of those “services” firms were recession wary in 2023, and may have delayed hiring on additional staff, but a new year for many means a new budget and the forecast of demand remains strong. Also as larger blue chip firms nationally reduce workers, some of that work gets outsourced to these businesses. Postings for these roles in Hamilton County were up 5% in January compared to one year ago, and gained 216 job postings throughout the month.

Jan. 26 was the first time in a year that local job postings surpassed the previous year’s high and they’ve maintained gains since. As of Feb. 9, local firms have over 26,000 open roles. Another piece of good news for local businesses is that advertised wages county-wide have remained flat since August 2023. I’ll remain a broken record since 2021, with Registered Nurses remaining the top open position with over 700 unique open roles. In fact, 8 of the top 10 companies with most open roles are in health care or senior services.

Marketplace had a great feature, linked in our newsletter, regarding what it feels like to be a job seeker or an employer in this economy, and the answer for both could be that it feels a little rough. Multiple sources state the top 30% of applicants for positions are in higher demand than ever, but come with a premium price tag and are often courting multiple offers. Others are struggling with a job opening process that is often cumbersome, and does not treat potential new employees like customers who should be treated well, along with the impact of remote work and competing on a national scale for many open roles.

But, to quote Marketplace, the ratio of quits versus layoffs (despite whatever headlines you made read) show that “employers need workers more than workers need employers.”