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April 2024 Market Trends Report

After years of labor market instability ushered in from the early COVID shockwaves of 2020, First Quarter 2024 has rounded out with much-welcome labor stats that challenge prior expectations for slowing job growth. 

Most economists predicted job growth would diminish with the completion of pandemic recovery, yet employers added 303,000 jobs last month. 

While 2024 month-over-month trends have been un-exhilarating, the overall picture is impressive.

In comparison to January and February, March employment data is little changed — a phrase that’s repeated 10 times in the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Employment Situation Summary

Layoff and unemployment rates remain at near historic lows — with unemployment below 4% for the 26th consecutive month — suggesting the economy remains on solid ground at the end of Q1. 

Overall, the U.S. labor market continues to hold strong, even under the pressure of high interest rates and inflation. 

“This strength is coming from sources that are more sustainable than those that fueled the burst of gains in 2021,” Indeed Hiring Lab’s Economic Research Director Nick Bunker reported in a March jobs report retrospective.

“March’s jobs numbers were uniformly strong, and upticks in the employment-population ratio — and labor force participation in particular — suggest that demand for workers is not outstripping supply like it was a few years back.”

Jobs Market Overview: March 2024


Overall Unemployment Rate

Unemployment rates remain at near historic lows — below 4% for the 26th consecutive month — the longest streak since the 1960s.


Jobs Added

The U.S. labor market continues to hold strong, with some of the greatest jobs gains in construction — despite past predictions to the contrary.


Labor Force Participation Rate

Labor force participation ticked up to five-month high last month.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Situation Summary (bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm)

Industry Employment Trends




Monthly Job Change

(+1.9% YoY Difference)

Industry Monthly Job Change YoY Difference
Manufacturing 0 +0.2%
Automotive -2.7k +4.4%
Warehousing & Storage -5.5k -3.4%
Architectural & Engineering -1k +2.5%
Construction +39k +3.4%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Situation Summary (bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm)

Sector by Sector News: March 2024


Economic activity expanded in March after contracting for 16 months straight, according to the latest survey from the Institute for Supply Management (ISM). However, employment showed zero change in manufacturing. 

The ISM reported a Manufacturing PMI of 50.3% in March, indicating economic activity expanded for the first time after contracting for 16 straight months. 

“Demand remains at the early stages of recovery, with clear signs of improving conditions,” Chair of the ISM Manufacturing Business Survey Committee Timothy R. Fiore said.

“Production execution surged compared to January and February, as panelists’ companies reenter expansion. Suppliers continue to have capacity but are showing signs of struggling, due in large part to their raw material supply chains.”


The construction industry is showing surprising strength, with 39,000 jobs added in March — more than doubling its growth pace from last year — thanks in part to a recent federal policy that spurred an increase in factory construction projects.

“The number of open, unfilled construction positions stood at the second highest level on record at the end of February,” ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu said. “This occurred despite the fact that contractors hired workers at the fastest rate since March 2023.”

“While these dynamics are emblematic of ongoing industrywide labor shortages, contractors also laid workers off at an elevated rate throughout February.” 

This incongruity is due to federal funding that’s powering tremendous demand for labor, while private sectors within the industry are growing more slowly. 

Regardless, staffing levels are expected to hold strong within privately funded firms, with fewer than 11% of contractors expecting them to decrease over the next six months, according to ABC’s Construction Confidence Index.

Warehousing & Storage 

Employment continues to diminish across Warehousing & Storage sectors, dropping 5,500 jobs in March. 

However, the Logistics Manager’s Index (LMI) Report highlights promising growth indicators across upstream (57.9) and downstream (60.8) operations, as well as smaller (59.1) and larger (58.1) firms — with an overall LMI of 58.3 — up (+1.8) from February.

“This is the fastest rate of expansion in the overall index since the reading of 61.2 from 18 months ago in September of 2022,” the report states.

Although the September 2022 index seems to outshine the March 2024 LMI, the report suggests the logistics industry is much sturdier today.  

“That reading from 18 months ago was largely inflated by unwanted inventories and high Warehousing Costs along with an anemic freight market. March of 2024 is a different story as we are seeing long-planned inventory expansions, along with more efficient levels of utilization in both warehousing and transportation as the drivers of growth.”



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