Five metrics we are watching in the labor market

April 2023

Unemployment in the US is hovering around historic lows at 3.5%. For much of 2021 and all of 2022, the number of job openings exceeded the number of unemployed workers who might be able to fill these positions. Wages and salaries rose in the US as the economy reopened from pandemic lockdowns. For most of the past year, most indicators have pointed to a healthy labor market.

In this research note, we take a closer look at five key labor characteristics that could provide some evidence that the labor market is weakening, and economic demand is cooling. Typically, an economic recession includes broad-based job losses. We also weigh post pandemic variables that could keep labor markets stronger for an extended period.