Private Job Growth Soared in December. Is It Time for You to Take Advantage of the Booming Labor Market?

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Hiring was up last month. Should you apply for a new job?

Key points

  • In December, private sector job growth amounted to 807,000 jobs.
  • That's more than double the 375,000 new jobs analysts were expecting for the month.

It's no secret the U.S. labor market is at its strongest point since the start of the pandemic. Not only is the national unemployment rate down, but hiring has been rampant. This especially holds true in the private sector.

Last month, new private sector jobs totaled 807,000, according to data from ADP. That's more than twice the 375,000 new private sector jobs analysts were expecting.

How December hiring broke down

The bulk of the new jobs added last month in the private sector came from large companies -- those with 500 employees or more. Large companies added an estimated 389,000 new positions in December. Meanwhile, mid-sized companies -- those with 50 to 499 employees -- added 214,000 new roles, while small companies with one to 49 employees added 204,000 jobs.

Most of the new jobs added stemmed from the service sector, which saw 669,000 new positions added in total. Of those, the leisure and hospitality industry led the pack with 246,000 new jobs, followed by 138,000 jobs within the trade, transportation, and utilities industry.

It's worth noting that the leisure and hospitality industry shed a lot of jobs earlier in the pandemic, when restaurants were first forced to shutter to diners and were then told to operate with strict capacity limits. It's not surprising to see such strong growth in that area.

How you can benefit from today's labor market

If you're in a job you're not satisfied with, whether it's due to the pay, the hours, the people, or the work itself, then now's a great time to dust off your resume and see what other opportunities are out there. Not only are many companies hiring, but some are so desperate to do so that they're offering up never-before-seen incentives, from sign-on bonuses to higher salaries.

If compensation (or a lack thereof) is a sticking point right now at your job, then it pays to see if applying elsewhere yields you a more generous salary. Boosting your earnings could really help you beef up your savings, pay down debt, and generally improve your financial picture.

It also pays to apply for a new job if yours isn't flexible enough. The pandemic has taught many companies how important it is to grant workers a certain amount of leeway when it comes to things like working hours and showing up to an office versus working remotely. And if you're not satisfied with your current work-life balance, it definitely pays to see what's out there.

If you're going to apply for a new job, it could really benefit to do so in January. That's because many companies renew their hiring budgets at the start of the year, so if you're after more money in particular, you may be more likely to get it now.

The fact that private sector job growth exploded in December is a positive thing for the economy. Let's just hope that momentum continues as we navigate a tricky winter.

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