U.S. job growth expected to hold steady in 2016, study shows

Survey reveals five employment trends to watch for in new year

Posted January 13, 2016

U.S. employers remain confident in their hiring plans as they embark on a new year, according to CareerBuilder’s annual job forecast. Thirty-six percent of employers plan to add full-time, permanent employees in 2016, the same as 2015. Nearly half of employers (47 percent) plan to hire temporary or contract workers.

Workers can also expect to see higher starting salaries, more teens in internships, more women and minorities in leadership, and more opportunities to move from low-skill to high-skill jobs, among other trends.

“On average, the U.S. has added 200,000 jobs each month over the last two years, and we expect 2016 to produce similar results, if not better,” said Matt Ferguson, CEO of CareerBuilder and co-author of The Talent Equation. “The market is also showing signs of broader wage pressure. While employers have been more willing to pay a premium for high-skill labor, they now have to pay more competitive wages for entry-level positions. Workers are gaining leverage.”

Full-time, permanent hiring
While more than a third of employers are increasing full-time, permanent headcount, 45 percent anticipate no change. One in ten employers (10 percent) plan to decrease staff levels, while 9 percent are unsure of their hiring plans.

Comparing industries, financial services (46 percent), information technology (44 percent), and health care (43 percent) are expected to outperform the national average for employers adding full-time staff. Manufacturing (37 percent) is expected to mirror the national average.

Hot areas for hiring
Of the employers who plan to increase the number of full-time employees in the new year, the top areas they’ll be recruiting for include:

  • Customer service — 32 percent
  • Information technology — 29 percent
  • Sales — 27 percent
  • Production — 24 percent
  • Administrative — 20 percent
  • Marketing — 18 percent
  • Business development — 16 percent
  • Human resources — 16 percent
  • Accounting/finance — 15 percent
  • Engineering — 13 percent

Five trends to watch in the new year
Looking at key trends that will help shape the employment landscape in 2016, several are tied to higher competition for talent, innovation in sourcing and developing high-skill workers, and a push for more diversity in leadership.

  1. Opening new doors for low-skill workers — Many employers are concerned with a growing skills gap (63 percent) and report extended vacancies within their organizations (48 percent).Thirty-three percent of employers plan to hire low-skill workers and invest in training them for high-skill jobs in 2016.
  2. Hiring younger interns — To encourage the next generation to pursue STEM-related fields (science, technology, engineering, and math) and other in-demand areas, employers are building relationships with students at an early age. One quarter (25 percent) plan to hire high school students as interns over the next 12 months.
  3. Increasing wages at all levels — To retain and attract top performers, 83 percent of employers plan to increase compensation for existing employees — on par with 82 percent last year — while 66 percent will offer higher starting salaries for new employees — up from 64 percent last year.
  4. Reaching beyond U.S. borders — Employers will continue to look at talent pools outside the U.S. to help fill labor deficits. Nearly 1 in 5 (19 percent) say they will hire workers with H-1B visas in 2016, which will enable them to employ temporarily foreign-born workers for specialized occupations.
  5. Diversifying management — Companies are expanding demographics in their company leadership. Fifty- five percent of employers plan to hire or promote more women for management roles, and 53 percent plan to do the same for diverse workers. Forty-seven percent of employers plan to promote workers under the age of 30 into management roles.


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