How to Read the February Jobs Report

Strong Employment Growth in February

What Industries are Doing Best?

february 2017 jobs report info

The February Jobs Report, released today by the BLS showed strong job growth. More than 235,000 new jobs were added to the American economy, exceeding expectations by more than 17%. The unemployment rate remained unchanged at a low 4.7%, but the strong increase in new jobs indicates many previously discouraged unemployed workers are re-entering the labor force. Strong gains were made in the construction industry, despite the fact that the new presidential administration has not yet released an official infrastructure development plan. Within the construction industry, the largest gains were made within the specialty trade contractor and heavy/civil engineering sectors. In total employment in the construction industry rose more than 58,000. In the past six months, the construction industry has created more than 177,000 new jobs, so the single month of February represents nearly one third of all new job growth in that area. Strong construction growth moving into the Spring and Summer months represents a positive sign for the economy.

Another surprise in this past month’s job report is the increase in manufacturing jobs. The manufacturing industry added more than 28,000 new jobs last month, with the strongest sectors being food manufacturing and machinery. The transportation equipment sector however, lost 6,000 jobs. Not all is lost with the transportation sector however, recreational vehicle construction has hit a production level not seen since the 1970s. This is a very strong indicator that consumer confidence levels are reaching highs not seen since before the 2008 economic recession.

Even seemingly forgotten industries such as mining added new jobs this past month, increasing payroll by 8,000, which is surprising considering the industry hit a recent low shortly back in October of 2016.

The biggest loser in jobs report was retail, which lost 26,000 jobs. Facing stiff competition from online retailers, most notably Amazon, this comes as little surprise. Most recently, JCPenney announced they were closing more than 140 stores. Additionally, Sears and Kmart are closing 150 stores total. Workers in retail be would well-advised to start planning their exit strategy into a new industry soon.

Consumer Confidence and the Economy

Here’s more good news for the economy: Consumer confidence levels have hit a 15-year high. Consumer confidence levels measure the health of the business environment and optimism about the economy. Individuals surveyed who reported it was difficult to find a job returned to pre-2008 recession levels for the first time. In general, consumers are expecting the labor market to improve and the business environment to become more favorable in the near future.

For the average American, one might expect this to result in increased spending in the hospitality and professional services sectors. However, brick-and-mortar retail is not expected to greatly benefit, since activity has steadily drifted towards online retailers for the past decade with little indication of reversing.

Is Trump Responsible for this Job Growth?

With mostly positive job reports since the election of Donald Trump, many are beginning to speculate whether or not he is responsible for the strong economic growth we have been reporting. As one commentator put it, the data is unclear as to how much influence a president has over improving the economy. Nonetheless, Donald Trump has been taking pride in the job growth and consumer confidence levels.

However, many economists are attributing this strong job growth to Obama. Social media feuds have been erupting about who is responsible for the strongest February job growth rate in three years. Even Slate Magazine is pushing back against the idea that Trump is responsible for the increase in job growth.

Despite the high job growth in the construction and manufacturing, Donald Trump has yet to release a comprehensive infrastructure program, which he promised during his campaign. It remains unclear when, where, and if this will be released.

Time for a Career Change

With a changing economy, individuals need to prepare themselves to be able to take on new responsibilities and duties. Brick-and-mortar retail, traditionally one of the largest employers, has been consistently losing jobs due to increase in popularity of online retailers. Luckily, individuals in these roles have developed many transferable skills, including customer service, conflict resolution and task management.

Looking for a career change? Contact us at 773-525-2450 to speak directly with an experienced resume writer.





Free Resume – Good Idea or No?

Free Resume Makers — a Good Idea?

The most commonly searched keywords regarding resumes inevitably include “free” or “template” in them. Nobody wants to pay for something they think they can do themselves. A quick search will yield dozens of different services and sites offering free assistance with writing your own resume. But before you decide to sign up for any of these services, you ought to do your research on them first. Just like with any industry, even resume writing services has its shady underbelly.

resume maker scam

One of the most common free resume template services involves an application where you provide your information such as name, education, work experience, etc., and the application plugs it automatically into a ready-made template. But before you are allowed to save your document or print it out, you are asked to pay a small, negligible fee, often around $2 or sometimes give your credit card information for a “free” trial that you can supposedly cancel at any time. Not so bad for something other people may pay several hundred dollars for, huh? Think again.

Hidden deep in the fine print, that no one seems to read anymore anyways, is the agreement you make to be charged for an automatically renewing subscription service. Before you know it, your credit card is being charged $40, $50, or even more every month. If you take a look at some of the consumer reviews for some of these “free” resume services, you will find that unfortunately many people do not pay very close attention to their credit card statements and may end up having these reoccurring charges for more than a year. What you thought was “free” or only a couple of bucks ends up turning out to be several hundred dollars or more, depending on when you notice the fraudulent charges.

Oftentimes, you will have little to no luck disputing the charges with your bank or credit card company. If the charges are reoccurring on your account, you will have been assumed to have agreed to them. This is another good reminder to always keep a close eye on your bank and credit card amounts. And good luck trying to dispute the charges with the actual company over the telephone or email. Why would they want to give you the time of day to cancel the charges when hidden fees and surcharges are their bread and butter? Always be suspicious of businesses without verifiable, physical addresses, and do your consumer research beforehand.

Many people who are looking to have a resume written are unemployed and looking to save money wherever they can, so they turn to “free” resume making websites that they believe will improve their chances of securing interviews. The sad reality is that there are many companies out there whose entire business model is based off scamming the poor and destitute with hidden fees and a sub-par product. If you are looking for help writing your resume, always do your research before you hand over any credit card information. Furthermore, ask friends and family what has best worked for them. Legitimate, professional resume writing services may not be for everyone, but they do help a great deal of job seekers. Sometimes the initial investment is well worth the reward. A well-written, effective resume could be the difference between you getting a new job in the next couple of weeks vs. you getting a job in the next couple of months, and all of that lost income will add up.

Actually Free Resume Templates

It is likely you have resume templates already installed on whichever word processing software you have. There are plenty of places where you can legitimately download them for free online and just enter in the necessary information yourself. For many people, this is as far as resume writing goes. Write a simple objective, name the school you went to, describe your work experience, and list any certifications. The problem is that, while templates may give you a basic format outline, it does not tell you what to actually write in it or how to write it. Just as all individuals are different, so should every resume be different.

Remember, free resume templates are designed to grab your attention, not the attention of the people who actually matter, such as hiring managers and recruiters. They may try to wow you with different fonts, graphics, and colors, but this is not what employers are looking for. You may think you will come off as interesting, creative, and eye catching if you used a unique resume template, but in the eyes of the hiring authority it will be clear as daylight that you used just another generic resume template.

When I have been in charge of hiring before, one of my most memorable examples was an individual who described themselves as a “creative type” and “proficient in Microsoft Office.” Their resume formatting and style was a little out of the ordinary for sure, but it was also obvious they used a rather common resume template. Why would I want to hire someone who says they are “creative” and “proficient in Microsoft Office,” if they can’t even format their own resume?

When looking at resumes, hiring authorities want documents that are simple, clean, and get straight to the point. With a competitive job market, a Human Resources official may sift through hundreds of resumes for a single position. They don’t spend too much time on each one, normally just a quick glance before they decide if it goes in the garbage or if the candidate needs a closer look.

A final warning about free resume templates is the question of how Applicant Tracking System (ATS) compliant they are. Many companies, especially large corporations, use ATS software to pre-screen applicants. This software scans the document for things like experience level, skills, certifications, educational background, industry keywords, and more. If you have a strangely formatted resume, it will be difficult for the software to read your resume. Even if you are the perfect candidate and have an otherwise well-written resume, it may get thrown in the garbage before a pair of human eyes ever actually looks at it.

Most people only write resumes a small handful of times in their lives. I know people who have only ever had to write their resumes once and are now well into their fifties with advanced careers. It is not something every one is capable of doing successfully. Like with any legitimate company offering services, a professional resume writing service will offer you a free consultation to sit down and explain what they can offer to you. Be cautious about any company that asks for your credit card information before providing anything.