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February 2024 Market Trends Report

Three construction workers wearing hard hats and reflective vests look into the distance on a job site

The U.S. economy added 353,000 jobs in January, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Employment Situation Summary. 

Payroll employment increased by an average of 255,000 jobs per month in 2023 and the U.S. labor market now employs 2.9 million more people than it did in January 2023.

Job openings surpass 9 million

The latest Job Opportunities and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) report, which runs a month behind the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' jobs report, showed there were 9.0 million job openings on the last business day of December.

Job openings grew in manufacturing (+48,000), while the number of openings fell in transportation, warehousing and utilities (-34,000) and construction (-21,000),.

Total separations, including quits, layoffs, discharges and other separations, fell in manufacturing (-25,000) and construction (-4,000), while the number of separations saw a small spike in transportation, warehousing and utilities (+3,000). Layoffs and discharges, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, increased by 43,000 in transportation, warehousing and utilities.

There are now 1.44 job openings per unemployed worker, the lowest level since November 2021.  

Jobs Market Overview: January 2024


Overall Unemployment Rate

January was the third straight month where unemployment stood at 3.7%.


Jobs Added

January's gains marked the 37th consecutive month of job gains.


Labor Force Participation Rate

The labor force participation rate held at 62.5% for the second consecutive 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 +23k 0.3%
Automotive +3.1k +3.9
Warehousing & Storage +5.5k -4.2%
Architectural & Engineering +9.9k +2.9%
Construction +11k +2.7%

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

Sector by Sector News: January 2024


Manufacturing employment grew by 23,000 in January, led by a 19,000 job spike for nondurable goods employers. Chemical manufacturers added 6,900 jobs in January, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Meanwhile, the PMI Manufacturing Index increased to 49.1 percent in January. The reading was the 15th straight month below 50, indicating economic activity contracted in the sector.


General contractors (+4,100 jobs) and nonresidential specialty trade contractors (+13,700 jobs) drove January's job growth in the construction sector. 

The construction industry has added 216,000 jobs during the past 12 months and industry job openings remain near an all-time high with 449,000 construction jobs available.

Average hourly earnings also spiked in the construction sector, increasing in January by $0.21. The increase was the largest monthly spike since July 2023, according to data analysis by Associated Builders and Contractors.

“With both the construction industry and the broader economy continuing to grow at a rapid pace, contractors will struggle to remain adequately staffed over the coming quarters," said ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu. "Especially with a majority of contractors intending to increase their staffing levels over the next six months, according to ABC’s Construction Confidence Index.”

Warehousing & Storage 

Employment in warehousing and storage increased by 5,500 jobs in January. Warehouse and storage employment has declined by more than 78,000 jobs since the start of 2023 and industry
employment is currently at 1.8M.

The Logistics Manager Index had a reading of 55.6 in January. For the first time since September of 2019 every metric in the Logistics Managers’ Index is reading in expansion territory, according to the report.


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