April 2024 Talent Market Insights

By TERRA Staffing Group

Posted on April 18, 2024

April 2024 Talent Market Infographic

Month after month, headlines describe a U.S. labor market that is “strong,” “robust,” “hot”—and so on.  

This month is no different.  

Here are some of the key takeaways from the latest jobs report: 

  • 303,000 jobs were added in March, above the forecasted 200,000. 
  • Unemployment dropped slightly from 3.9 to 3.8%—and remains under 4% for the 26th month straight, the first time since the 1960s.  
  • Workforce participation slightly increased to 62.7% 
  • Wage growth increased by 0.3% 

Below we’ll review the latest labor market trends and the impact this could have on employers.

Number of Jobs Available 

Job Openings October 2019 – March 2024. Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

In March, industries leading job growth included healthcare (+118,0000), government (+71,000) and construction (+39,000).  

Employment in the service industry, which was struggling after the pandemic, has returned to its pre-pandemic level (+49,000). 

Construction gains for March were nearly double the average monthly gain of 19,000. Of job gains in construction, 14,000 were in residential construction—an interesting gain given interest rates are the highest they’ve been in 20 years and mortgage rates are around 7%. 

Overall, job gains are showing an extremely resilient market, with no signs of a recession on the horizon.  


Unemployment rate January 2023 – March 2024. Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Unemployment dropped slightly from 3.9% in February to 3.8% in March.  

In the latest JOLTS report, which shows hires and separations for February, the number of layoffs and discharges increased in accommodation and food services (+67,000) and in arts, entertainment and recreation (+57,000). The number of quits remains relatively unchanged.  

The unemployment rate continues to remain below 4%, though unemployment varies by demographic. 

Unemployment for Black or African American workers has been consistently increasing since December, from 5.2% to 6.4%.  

While for Asian American workers, unemployment decreased, from 3.4% in February to 2.5% in March.  

Though the unemployment rate is at a record-low, other demographics are seeing a return to pre-pandemic levels.  

Workforce Participation 

Workforce Participation January 2023 – March 2024. Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Since February 2023, workforce participation has wavered slightly between 62.5%-62.8%. In March, workforce participation increased from 62.5% to 62.7%, the first increase since November 2023. 

The number of hires changed little at 5.8 million according to the latest JOLTS report.   

And the number of people employed part-time for economic reasons changed little at 4.4 million.    

Despite the consistent increases in job gains every month, workforce participation has changed little. Though some are predicting the workforce participation rate may drop as Baby Boomers enter retirement.   

Wage Growth 

Average hourly earnings increased by 12 cents (or 0.3%) to $34.69/hr. And average hourly earnings increased by 4.1% from last year, both in line with wage increase estimates.

Wage growth has varied by industry. For example, jobs in the legal profession, cleaning and sanitation, dental and childcare have grown between approximately 4%-5% compared to March of last year. While software development jobs have seen the lowest annual wage growth.

Additionally, wage growth among production and nonsupervisory employees grew by under 3%.

Overall, wage growth has cooled substantially from it’s peak pandemic-era surge and due to recent productivtiy growth, these numbers aren’t likely to add to inflation.

Economic Variables to Keep an Eye On 

As an employer, staying informed about key economic variables can greatly influence your strategic planning. Here are two vital areas to keep a close eye on:

  • Inflation. The Fed chose to hold interest rates steady in their March 20th meeting. Though many speculated rate cuts on the horizon for 2024, the Fed is in no rush to announce rate cuts and will continue to use data to inform their decision. As for now, the Fed interest rate remains between 5.25% – 5.5%, a high rate in their effort to curb inflation and cool the economy.
  • Consumer spending. The cost of goods remains higher than pre-pandemic levels. On average, prices are around 18% higher than they were in February 2021. Rising prices may curb consumer spending, reducing demand for goods and potentially forcing businesses to scale back on production and reduce staff.

Winning Moves for Employers   

In today’s competitive labor market, employers must prioritize strategies that not only attract top talent, but also foster resilience and ensure success, regardless of market conditions. 

Here are some key winning moves for employers to consider: 

  • Nurture employee growth and engagement. Encourage open communication and empower employees to share ideas. Offer ongoing learning opportunities and clear paths for career advancement. Ensure your pay and benefits are competitive. Companies that demonstrate a commitment to employee growth and development are more likely to attract—and retain—top talent.
  • Build a culture of appreciation. Demonstrating appreciation to employees isn’t just about showing gratitude; it’s about making them feel valued and recognized for their contributions. When employees feel appreciated, they are more likely to be engaged, motivated, and committed to their work—leading to higher job satisfaction and improved retention rates.
  • Strategically leverage temporary staffing. Business demands fluctuate as do staffing needs. Temporary staffing is a flexible, cost-effective solution to help companies meet project deadlines and productivity goals, regardless of market dynamics. 

Interested in more resources? Explore our employer resource center. There you’ll find an archive of on-demand HR webinars, tools and articles to help you address a variety of workplace challenges.  

And if you’re looking for insights into market trends, or need staffing support, don’t hesitate to contact us. 

Categories: Staffing Tips & Recruiting Trends

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