U.S. employers added 128k jobs in October, surprising economists and providing evidence that the economy remains solidly in growth mode. The unemployment rate did tick up to 3.6% as did wage growth at 3.0%. This news suggests the economy is growing at a slower rate than 2018 but at a stable pace nonetheless despite signs of an economic slowdown globally.

The following sectors saw the most growth in employment in October:

Leisure and hospitality: 61k jobs added
Education and health services: 39k jobs added
Professional and business services: 22k jobs added
Financial activities: 16kjobs added

Manufacturing jobs were generally down over the sector in part due to the GM Auto strike. Warehousing jobs remained steady with no change from September.

Since the beginning of 2019, the U.S. has seen job gains average 167,000 positions per month, or nearly 1.7 million in total.

Unemployment ticks up slightly to 3.6%

The unemployment rate in October was 3.6%. That’s up from 3.5% in September, a 50-year low. The unemployment rate for workers 25 or older with college edged up to 2.1% from 2.0% in September. These workers are in highest demand by employers.

The unemployment rates for many professional-level roles track well below the national rate. For example, the unemployment rate for accountants and auditors was 2.0% in the third quarter of the year. The unemployment rate for administrative services managers was 1.3%. For web developers, it was just 0.9%.

Other data from the BLS help to highlight the challenge many employers face in the current economy, with low unemployment and a persistent lack of skilled talent. According to the most recent Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary (JOLTS), there were 7.1 million job openings in the United States at the end of August.

Employers beware!

The end of the year is when many workers feel the itch to launch a new job search. And if they have in-demand skills and experience, they are likely to find many options in the current hiring market.

In other words, the heat is on for your company to step up its retention efforts.

To help prevent your team members — especially, your top performers— from exploring new job opportunities, confirm that you’re offering appropriate compensation. In a recent survey, nearly half of professionals (46%) said they feel underpaid. The ETS Salary Guide, out next week, can help employers determine if their pay is competitive locally.

Another survey shows that about half of workers (49%) have quit a job due to a manager that was less than desirable. The highest percentage of workers (54%) who reported making this decision were in the 18-34 age bracket, which includes millennial and Generation Z professionals.

Move quickly to gather feedback from staff about your management approach. Based on what you learn, decide whether improvements in communication or training can help resolve any issues and increase rapport — before valued employees decide to move on.


What Job Seekers Need to Know

If you’re looking to switch jobs before the end of the year, this might be the best time. The hiring market remains tight, and in-demand professionals can find they have multiple offers to choose from. And many firms are accelerating their efforts to hire before year-end so they have the right teams in place to hit the ground running come January.

If your top motivation for seeking a new position is to escape a difficult manager, you are not alone. About half of all professionals in a recent survey said they have left a job because of their boss. However, while no one should have to endure a toxic work environment, you may want to reflect on whether your manager is the true reason you’re considering jumping ship.

For example, is your decision to quit a knee-jerk reaction to something that your boss said that was actually useful constructive criticism? Or are you reacting to a pattern of challenging behavior by your manager and have finally decided that enough is enough?

Yes, self-reflection can be difficult, but it’s necessary to ensure you leave your job for the right reasons.