News that the unemployment rate fell for the fifth consecutive month pushed the Dow past its highest point in 2011 today--and raised hopes of reaching the 13,000 mark. If it gets there, analyst say, a handful of job sectors driving today's data can probably take the credit.
According to Labor Department data released Friday, the unemployment rate fell for the fifth consecutive month, bringing the overall unemployment rate to 8.3%, down from 8.5% in January. While some economists say the employment outlook is far from certain -- particularly as seasonal jobs may still account for some of the drop in January -- there are several sectors that are showing steady growth. "Some sectors are showing more growth than others and, across all these sectors, companies will start boosting their sales forces," says Philip Noftsinger, president of CBIZ Payroll, a business services firm based in Roanoke, VA.
Here are five sectors hiring experts expect to continue adding in the coming weeks and months.
Facebook may be a company with relatively few employees (3,200) compared to its massive revenue ($3.7 billion), but experts say the company's planned initial public offering this spring bodes well for other social media companies. A sign that there is more hiring to come for those preferring Internet casual around the office (Tee-shirts and Converse): nearly 40% of Facebook's employees were hired last year and, blogger Andy Nyquist says smaller technology and social media companies like Buzzfeed.com and Zynga -- which makes games like Words With Friends and Farmville -- are also hiring. Analysts say IPO will bring more attention, investment capital and jobs to the industry, as firms seeks to track the vast amount of information shared by consumers online. "The social media movement is hot," says investment blogger Andy Nyquist, "and it's now just starting to take off." Labor demand for computer and mathematical science workers jumped from 19,200 to 582,600 last month, according to recent data from the Conference Board helped by jobs for computer systems analysts, software engineers and systems engineers.
Accounting and Human Resources
The business of hiring itself is also experiencing something of a renaissance. Professional and business services added 70,000 jobs in January, the Labor Department says. While many of these jobs were in accountancy, book keeping, architectural and engineering services, nearly 50% or 33,000 were in employment services. "As more business and jobs move to the private sector, newly minted entrepreneurs and growing businesses are finding themselves in need of HR and accounting assistance," Nyquist says. He sees more jobs growth moving from the public to the private sector, which will result in more management and administrative positions. "A bulk of these jobs will be in broad-based technology companies serving the boom in social media," he says. Perry says although companies may be hiring accounting, human resources and other administrative staff on contract "temporary employment is also showing strong gains and that's a leading indicator of future full-time, permanent employment."
Engineering and Geologists
Oil and gas mining added 10,000 jobs in January, according to the Labor Department. That means well-paid jobs for geologists, engineers, accountants, technicians, business analysts, Perry says. Since a recent low in October 2009, it says mining employment has expanded by 172,000. The search for oil has provided jobs in Texas, Oklahoma and North Dakota. Perry's theory: "Drill, drill, drill equals jobs, jobs, jobs." As The Wall Street Journal reported, the Eagle Ford oil field in South Texas accounts for 6% of South Texas's economic output and supports 12,000 full-time jobs, which is seen to 68,000 jobs by 2020, according to a study by the University of Texas at San Antonio earlier this year, which was funded by an industry-backed group. As of last December, gas became the top U.S. export in dollar terms, according to U.S. Census data. Why? Technology. Chris Lafakis, an economist with Moody's Analytics, says there has been vast improvements in how to extract difficult-to-reach shale oil, horizontal drilling and hydraulic "fracking," which pumps water, sand and chemicals into the well at high pressure in order to break porous rock apart and release oil and gas.
Health Care Professionals
Aging baby boomers, 40 million previously uninsured Americans gaining access to health-care coverage and investments in primary care jobs has created a "perfect storm" in the U.S. health care labor market, says Ann Woloson, executive director of the U.S. Prescription Policy Choices, a non-profit consumer advocacy group. That's good news for doctors, and other health professionals. Jobs related to health care, personal care and social assistance will some of the fastest job growth between 2010 and 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The health-care industry added 31,000 jobs in January, the Labor Department says. Hospitals and ambulatory care services added 13,000 jobs, according to Friday's data, but they don't say whether they were doctors, nurses, management or human resources staff. But while the health-care profession added jobs throughout the recession, employment growth has been choppy across professions due to cost cuts. As SmartMoney.com reported, WellPoint, along with other major insurers, want to cut visits to hospitals in favor of primary-care services to ultimately save on the high expenses associated with hospital visits.
Hospitality and Retail
A positive sign for those with dreams of giving up on their corporate job and setting up their own bar or restaurant: "As the economy improves, people are not as fearful and people go out more to eat," says Mark Grant, managing director at Southwest Securities in Dallas, Texas. The food sector is a bellwether for larger economic growth, analysts say. Employment in leisure and hospitality rose by 44,000 last month, the Labor Department says, primarily in food services and drinking venues. This data tallies with other recent data: As SmartMoney.com reported, over half of the private sector jobs added in January -- some 92,000 -- were in smaller companies with 50 or less staff, according to a national employment report published by payroll giant Automatic Data Processing Inc. and consultancy Macroeconomic Advisers. Grant says that while some of these are services and retail jobs that may not be well paid, he says the ADP data is a good sign for small mom-and-pop businesses and entrepreneurs.