February Jobs Report: Will the Recession Ever Come?

Published on Mar 11, 2023

Updated on Nov 10, 2023

Written by Lightcast Press Office

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(Boston, MA) March 10, 2023 – The Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Situation Report showed a gain of 311,000 jobs in January, a result that not only raises the stakes for next week’s inflation report but also suggests that the US is in a fundamentally different labor market. Our economists broke down the jobs report this morning on LinkedIn Live.

Demographic shifts, and shifts in the nature of work itself, mean that the traditional methods of slowing down the economy and controlling inflation may not have the same impact as in the past.

“There are fewer unemployed people now than last year at this same time despite adding 2.5 million more people into our labor force. There’s still a huge amount of opportunity and we’re still seeing a lot of help wanted signs. People are saying we’re going to have a recession but it’s harder to see the data that supports that. A lot of uncertainty is because people are used to Fed actions having certain effects in the past, but we’re not in the past,” said Lightcast Senior Economist Ron Hetrick.


Key Takeaways:


1. The industries that are usually sensitive to higher interest rates, like construction and  real estate, all saw gains. A reason for this is that consumer spending is shifting from goods to services, rather than slowing down.

These are sectors we expect to fall off a cliff here, and we’re not seeing it,” said Lightcast Senior Economist Elizabeth Crofoot. 

2.  One-third of all the employment gains have been in service industries, previously hard hit by labor shortages. Restaurants and hotels have had consecutive monthly gains for more than two years now. Increased immigration and continued consumer spending are both having an impact in these lower-wage roles.

“As long as consumer spending continues, it's hard to say we’re in a recession. If people are shifting their spending from one area to another, it’s likely we’re not going to see that happening,” said Lightcast Senior Economist Ron Hetrick.


3.  This report shows how resilient the new labor market is, and how different the rules will be going forward. Labor shortages, different ways of working, and a fast pace of skills change are baked into the job market now.

“There have been so many structural changes, in demographics, in wage structure, in the move to hybrid work, that it’s really difficult to compare the labor market today to the labor market before the pandemic. It’s much more resilient. There’s a lot more momentum,” said Lightcast Senior Economist Elizabeth Crofoot.


Monthly job gains with a rolling average
Monthly change in employment by industry
Hourly earnings by industry
Hourly earnings for all private industries


Lightcast provides trusted global labor market data, analytics, and expert guidance that empowers communities, corporations, and learning providers to make informed decisions and navigate the increasingly complex world of work. With a database of more than one billion job postings and career profiles, our team provides best-in-class customer service with robust data, clear analysis, and expert guidance on skills, jobs, and opportunities.

Headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, and Moscow, Idaho, Lightcast is active in more than 30 countries and has offices in the United Kingdom, Italy, New Zealand, and India. The company is backed by global private equity leader KKR. For more, visit www.lightcast.io.

Press contact: Scott Bittle

Email: media@lightcast.io