Employers in New Jersey and nationwide are taking more time to fill vacant positions, slowing the pace of job growth even as the pace of hiring quickens in some sectors, a manager at a Princeton staffing firm said Friday.
The latest figures released Friday by the federal Labor Department showed the national unemployment rate ticked down to 9 percent, from 9.1 percent in October, while the country added 80,000 jobs. Private-sector employment during the month rose by 104,000, while governments shed 24,000 positions.
The unemployment figure was a small step in the right direction, said Melissa Monteiro, branch manager for Robert Half International‘s Princeton office. But recent data also show there were 3 million job openings nationwide that went unfilled last month, even as 14 million people remained unemployed, she said.
“That’s kind of surprising to me, but I think it just goes to show you that employers are being more hesitant in terms of who they hire,” Monteiro said. “They’re being a little more critical in the types of backgrounds and skill sets, and making the right fit with their team, so it’s also causing a delay in the hiring cycle.”
The trend is no different in New Jersey, she said. The firm also is finding that companies are having trouble replacing more versatile workers who left after taking additional roles during periods of downsizing in the recession.
Yet hiring in the Garden State continues to pick up in fields such as consulting, financial analysis and other professional services, Monteiro said. A positive sign is that companies are already moving to fill tax and accounting needs, moves that are typically made earlier in the calendar year, she said.
“We’re already starting to fill those, and I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that two years ago, companies cut so deep,” she said. “So they’re a little bit quicker to move on some of the needs that they haven’t been so quick to move on before.”
Nationwide, professional and business services added 32,000 jobs in October, Labor reported Friday. Job figures released by the state last month showed that the sector added 3,900 new jobs in September.
The staffing and recruitment firm also is seeing greater demand for services from New Jersey’s pharmaceutical and research and development firms, along with additional hiring in construction, Monteiro said.
The health care field added 12,000 jobs nationwide in October, continuing gains from prior months this year, the Labor Department also reported Friday. Over the past 12 months, health care has added 313,000 jobs.
Current figures for New Jersey’s health care field were not immediately available Friday, but employment in the industry grew by 1.5 percent in 2010, said Kerry McKean Kelly, a spokeswoman for the New Jersey Hospital Association. Job growth took place during the recession, she said, and the trend is projected to continue over the next several years.
“We’ve seen that consistent rate for the past few years, and at this juncture we don’t see anything happening out in the landscape to suggest that we’re going to deviate from that,” McKean Kelly said. “On one hand we haven’t seen mass hiring, but nor have we seen health care layoffs. We do just see continued, steady reliable growth in health care jobs.”