The top-line number of today’s employment report – plus 204K – grabbed the attention of market observers today.

The report, though, contained some interesting details on the state of the labor market by industry.

Here are those details.

The following figure is employment growth in the retail sales industry since 2009.  Overall, employment in the industry is up 3.5 percent since bottoming in 2009 (the actual bottom was December 2009).

Additionally, the retail sales recovery happened about in line with the total employment recovery, represented by the change in color from red to green.

Employment in retail industry

As a general observation, analysts generally are not much excited about the retail sales numbers, largely because employment in this industry is associated with low pay and high turnover, something not indicative of how strong the overall economy is.

Retail Trade

The next figure shows employment growth in the financial activities sector.  In total, employment in the industry is still about 1.4 percent below where it stood in January 2009.

Employment in financial services industry

The financial services industry continues to be hampered by regulations, including regulations associated with pending Basel III changes and Dodd-Frank.  Absent these two regulation drags, employment in the industry would probably be in positive territory by now.

Financial Activities

The next industry is construction.  Coming as likely no surprise, employment in this industry is still 11 percent below its 2009 count.

Construction employment

Perhaps disheartening, even though the housing market is growing quickly in terms of sales and prices, construction employment is still only moderately picking up jobs.


The fourth industry addressed here is the professional and business services industry.  Overall, this is one of the very bright spots in the current labor market recovery, with employment in the industry now about 10 percent above where it stood in 2009.

Businesses services sector

The professional and businesses services sector was also one of the earliest industries to show positive growth, turning to positive growth territory about a year before the overall economy arrived there.

Professional and Business Services employment

The fifth industry is the trade, transportation,and utilities sector, up about 2.6 percent since 2009.

Utilities sector employment

Overall, the growth experienced in the trade, transportation, and utilities sector is about in line with what the economy as a whole has done in terms of growth rate magnitude and timing of the recovery.

Trade, Transportation, and Utilities

Natural resources industry

The next industry is the natural resources industry (i.e. mining, drilling, and so forth).  Overall, the natural resources industry continues to lag, with employment still about 8 percent below where it stood in 2009.  Should oil or natural gas prices appreciation appreciably, one might expect the industry to pick up quicker.

Natural Resources

Information technology sector

The seventh industry is the information technology sector.  Interestingly, although the technology sector is hot in the minds of venture capital and other types of investors, employment in the industry has not picked up at the same pace as the investment dollars.  Overall, the industry is still about 7 percent behind where it was in 2009.  Perhaps some of the lagging performance might be due to outsourcing of information technology work to places like India.

Information (Computers)

The last private sector industry is the leisure and hospitality industry.  Akin to the professional and business services, the leisure and hospitality is a bright spot in the employment market conditions report.

Leisure and Hospitality

Overall, employment in the industry is up about 8 percent since 2009, with strong growth rates experienced about a year before the overall employment situation turned positive.  Interestingly, common perception is that the travel industry is one of the most sensitive industries to economic conditions.  The employment figures don’t play out that story.

Leisure and Hospitality

Government sector

The next three are the broad government sector figures.

The first of the three is the federal government, followed by state and then local government.  Perhaps surprisingly, government is actually declining, with all three broad areas down about 3 percent since 2009.

Who says we need government to grow the economy?  (And think twice before you say that growth would be higher if government were growing.)

Federal Government

State Government

Local Government

Overall, the employment report was positive, with most industries now above where they stood in 2009.