- Gross hiring decreased by 2.9% across all U.S. industries last year, according to a Reboot Digital Marketing analysis of LinkedIn's March 2019 Workforce Report. While hiring decreases between February 2018 and 2019 were most significant in the arts (-13.7%) and agriculture (-11.1%), hiring in the consumer goods and retail industries dropped by 8.4% and 8.1%, respectively in 2018, the analysis found.
- Other industries with hiring declines in 2018 were hardware and networking, which fell 7.7%; entertainment, which fell 7.7%; construction and manufacturing, which both fell 6.6%; and design and real estate, which both fell 6%.
- However, Reboot did not find hiring slows across the board: Public safety had the largest hiring increases at 6.4%, with software and IT services (4.6%) and corporate services (4%) trailing just behind.
The dips in hiring for consumer goods and retail are particularly noteworthy because both industries have struggled in their recruiting and retention efforts in a tight labor market. To attract applicants and reduce the normally high turnover rate in the retail sector, major retailers like Walmart and Target have raised their minimum wages and others like H&M and Lululemon have extended benefits to hourly workers. Automation has creeped into retail and grocery, however. Giant and Walmart have both recently integrated robot helpers into their workforces.
It's unclear, however, if automation played a role in these hiring figures and if there's a looming impact on hiring across other industries. Experts have predicted that automation could slow hiring, though others speculate it could have the opposite effect. In cybersecurity, the latter dynamic could be playing out, with 73% of professionals in a recent report noting that the IT security function is understaffed, and 65% agreeing that human involvement is still needed in the age of automation. Though automation has not slowed job growth in rural areas, according to a 2018 Brookings Institute report, low-skill workers in these areas may still be replaced.
Though much remains unknown, many employers maintain that they plan to continue hiring in 2019. In fact, 87% of employers in a February report said they will continue to hire this year. For talent pros, the challenge will be retaining valuable workers even as new technology puts roles and processes in a state of flux.