Visualized: The State of the U.S. Labor Market
The last time the U.S. labor market was this strong was in 1969.
Unemployment fell to 3.3%, incomes were soaring to historic levels, and inflation was rising at a fast clip. Like today, the Federal Reserve was tightening monetary policy to stifle inflation. Yet much of the wage increases were washed out by rising consumer prices.
The above graphic looks at the industries driving today’s robust job market using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Later, we look into the impact on inflation, and whether today’s market can be sustained.
What is Driving the U.S. Labor Market?
Broadly, service-led industries witnessed the highest share of job growth in January.
Still, as the table below shows, a key part of the services sector—leisure and hospitality employment—remains under pre-pandemic levels. A similar trend is seen in retail services.
|1||Leisure and Hospitality||128K||-495K|
|2||Education and Health |
|3||Professional and Business |
|7||Transportation and |
|12||Mining and Logging||2K||-55K|
Adding 1.5 million jobs since 2020 is professional and business services, the highest overall. This sector covers legal, accounting, veterinary, engineering and other specialized services.
We are also seeing strong gains in transportation and warehousing. Last year, the sector added an average of 23,000 jobs, totaling almost 955,000 over the course of the pandemic. Today, trucking jobs exceed 2019 levels and warehouse employment is roughly 50% higher.
Although manufacturing hasn’t seen the highest gains, the sector has one of the lowest unemployment rates across job sectors, at 2.4%. Yet the industry faces an acute labor shortage—if every skilled unemployed worker were to fill open job vacancies, a third of jobs in durable manufacturing would remain open.
Cooling Wage Growth
Despite rock-bottom unemployment numbers, wage growth is slowing. In January, it fell to 4.4% annually, down from a multi-decade high of 5.9% in March last year.
At the same time, wage growth falls below inflation by about 1%.
Wage growth is carefully watched by the Federal Reserve. Typically, their annual wage growth target is 3.5% to be compatible with 2% inflation.
In the current environment, this wage growth trend serves as a double-edged sword. As wage growth slows, workers are less likely to see wages keep up with inflation. On the other hand, slower wage growth could help prevent inflation from rising in the first place—and interest rates from climbing higher.
Where is the Job Market Heading?
The question on everyone’s minds is whether today’s job market will stay resilient.
According to Fitch Ratings, slowing aggregate demand in response to higher interest rates will begin to weigh on the U.S. labor market, and the 517,000 new jobs created in January—three times the level expected by analysts— won’t last long.
Eventually, both higher borrowing costs and elevated compensation costs could weigh on corporate profits. On the other hand, the pandemic has changed the labor market. Relief legislation may continue to buoy the job market and workers may also remain scarce as people retire or leave for other reasons.
Given how unemployment serves as a lagging indicator, the material effects in the economy will likely appear before cracks begin to show in the U.S. labor market.
Visualizing the Most Sought-After Entry Level Jobs in 2023
Some jobs need a degree, while others don’t. Here are the top 20 most sought-after entry level jobs with and without a degree.
The Most Sought-After Entry Level Jobs of 2023
In the fast-paced realm of job hunting, staying ahead of the curve is crucial. And if you are an entry-level job applicant, the pressure is a notch higher.
New entrants in any job market today compete with groundbreaking technology like ChatGPT in addition to their peers. In the United States, these applicants have to also wade through an uncertain labor market, inflation, and long lists of job requirements.
Indeed.com has identified the most sought-after entry level positions for applicants both with and without a degree in the U.S., and the year-on-year growth of these job postings.
Most Sought-After Entry-Level Jobs With a Degree
As the U.S. job market recovers from its pandemic slump, some careers are now booming. This in turn has opened up numerous opportunities for entry-level job applicants.
|Rank||Job Title||Average Annual Salary||Change in Postings
|1||Outside Sales Representative||$60,000||+258%|
|8||Network Operations Technician||$85,500||+94%|
|9||Mental Health Manager||$42,000||+93%|
|12||Patient Access Manager||$90,000||+77%|
|14||Lead Generation Specialist||$62,500||+73%|
|16||Pharmaceutical Sales Representative||$74,378||+71%|
|18||Special Events Coordinator||$54,000||+67%|
The demand for sales jobs multiplied this year as customer-facing businesses slowly returned to their pre-pandemic levels.
At the top of this list is the job for an Outside Sales Representative. Paying upwards of $60,000, postings for this job have grown by over 250% in a year, making it the most sought-after position for applicants with a degree.
The healthcare industry has secured its place in the top ranks too. Careers including mental health case managers, speech pathologists, behavioral therapists, and patient access managers dominate the Top 20 list.
Let’s not forget about the tech sector. While entry-level network technicians can earn upwards of $85,000 on average, while IT engineers are paid an entry package of over $90,000.
Most Sought-After Entry-Level Jobs Without a Degree
Nearly 65% of the U.S. working population does not have a four-year degree. However, millions of these workers continue to be highly skilled across professions and have a shot at some of the most sought-after entry level jobs in the country.
|Rank||Job Title||Average Annual Salary||Change in Postings
|2||Auto Body Technician||$82,500||+100%|
|3||Environmental Health and Safety Specialist||$65,000||+100%|
|7||Sheet Metal Mechanic||$62,140||+67%|
|8||Aircraft Maintenance Technician||$57,500||+64%|
|11||Route Sales Representative||$50,000||+51%|
|13||Distribution Center Coordinator||$52,500||+47%|
|14||General Maintenance Technician||$40,650||+46%|
|15||Patient Care Coordinator||$43,152||+44%|
|18||Field Sales Representative||$57,018||+42%|
One example of this job is that of an Inventory Manager. The demand for skilled inventory managers in warehouses and companies post-pandemic has doubled the position’s job share in a year.
One of the highest paying non-degree jobs in this list—Auto Body Technician—can fetch highly-skilled entry-level workers a salary of $82,000 per year.
These jobs don’t seem to require a degree according to Indeed. However, the rising competition for these positions might give the upper edge to applicants with one, especially for jobs on the list such as Business Analyst and Relationship Banker.
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