The Trade Wars Aren’t Impacting the Tight Labor Market Yet

Although the stock market seems like it’s on a roller coaster ride (up one day, down the next, then way up the following day), the rate of hiring for U.S. employers has remained strong and steady.

Things looked rather bumpy recently, with President Trump’s threats to impose tariffs of 5% or more on goods from Mexico sending the stock market plummeting last week. A disappointing May jobs report showing nonfarm payrolls up by a less-than-expected 75,000 added to the disquiet. However, the Mexican standoff appears to have ended with a recently announced agreement between that country and the U.S. (although trade disputes with China and other nations are ongoing), while ManpowerGroup’s latest Employment Outlook Survey shows that employers expect to continue adding workers at a record-setting pace.

U.S. employers are expecting to add jobs in the third quarter at the highest rate in 13 years, the survey finds. Twenty-one percent expect to add jobs during the period. Hiring is expected to be particularly robust in the West (22%) and the Midwest (21%).

Employers in the professional and business-services industries have the strongest hiring outlook (28%), followed by leisure and hospitality (27%) and transportation and utilities (21%).

Hiring was up in April to 5.9 million, an increase of 240,000 from March, according to the Labor Dept.’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey. The hiring rate rose to 3.9%, an increase of one-tenth of a percentage point, while the total hiring was the most recorded since December 2000.

Hiring appears strong in other parts of the world too, with Japan and Taiwan leading the Asia-Pacific region with hiring growth outlooks of 25% and 22%, respectively. In Europe, Croatia leads the pack, with 23% of employers in that Balkan country expecting to add workers. Employers in Greece (20%) and Slovenia (20%) also have optimistic outlooks for the third quarter.

From a global standpoint, the outlook for hiring is mixed, with Brexit and trade-war uncertainty keeping anticipated growth in Europe relatively modest overall while the U.S. and parts of Asia Pacific are expecting continued steady growth, says ManpowerGroup Chairman and CEO Jonas Prising.

“Overall, employers around the world are increasingly looking for specific technical and soft skills and are struggling to fill both temporary and permanent positions,” he says. “Leaders across all industries are focused on the need to upskill people in short cycles at speed and at scale to ensure they have the talent they need when they need it.”

Andrew R. McIlvaine
Andrew R. McIlvaine is former senior editor with Human Resource Executive®.