Growth in U.S. Hires Slows Modestly in May

Strong growth in job openings continues, led by retail trade and education & health services sectors, according to the iCIMS Monthly Hiring Indicator

HOLMDEL, N.J. [June 4, 2019] – The U.S. labor market expanded more slowly in May, with steady growth in job openings (4.5%) but more moderate growth in new hires (1%), on a seasonally-adjusted basis, according to iCIMS’ Monthly Hiring Indicator (MHI). The consistent gap between job openings and hires, month-over-month, suggests that the demand for workers continues to outpace the supply of people in need of a job.


The MHI is a leading economic indicator published by iCIMS, drawing upon its database of more than 75 million applications and 4 million hires each year. New hires translate directly into payroll growth, after netting out departures, layoffs and other separations.


May 2019 U.S. New Hires and Openings Highlights:

  • Most sectors that iCIMS tracks held steady or saw a slight decrease in hires, on a seasonally-adjusted basis. iCIMS’ data suggests manufacturing had a significantly slower May than in years past and is likely to remain under a cloud in the near term.

  • The strength in new job openings in May was driven by the 9.6% growth in retail trade and the 7.1% growth by education & health services sectors. Retail’s growth is driven by the uptick in job openings for salespersons, first-line supervisors, and store clerks and order fillers, while healthcare employers are trying to fill positions for registered nurses, nursing assistants, and licensed practical and vocational nurses.

  •  In contrast, the financial services sector was weak, with a 10.3% dip in job openings and a 2.3% decline in hires. Most occupation types saw declines, with the notable exception of tech-driven and computer-related jobs, as financial companies shift toward technology-oriented roles.    

  • Cities that saw the biggest increase in hires, after factoring in seasonal adjustments, include the San Francisco and Philadelphia areas, up 14.8% and 14.5%, respectively. Philadelphia saw similar growth in job openings (up 18.5%), followed by San Diego (up 15.5%).

“In May, hiring growth was modest, but roughly in line with our expectations for the economy to cool under the combined impact of fading fiscal stimulus, weakness abroad, and concerns about trade conflicts,” said Josh Wright, chief economist at iCIMS. “It’s too soon to see the impact of the latest headlines, which may or may not come to fruition. In the meanwhile, this is no time for employers to let up on their recruiting efforts for hard-to-fill roles, as technological shifts continue to sweep across industries.”


About the iCIMS Monthly Hiring Indicator (MHI) Methodology: 

The iCIMS Monthly Hiring Indicator (MHI) measures job openings and new hires, based on iCIMS system data, which is generated by user activity within our platform. iCIMS processes more than 1 million hires per quarter and 75 million applications per year. While iCIMS supports employers across the globe, the MHI is based on U.S. hiring activity only. The figures present both indexes of hiring activity and their month-over-month percentage change, using a fixed panel of customers. To facilitate comparison with benchmark data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, iCIMS publishes its indexes both with and without seasonal adjustments. Data from the MHI has been referenced by Bloomberg, The Wall Street Journal, Fox Business and NBC. To learn more about iCIMS’ MHI, visit iCIMS Hiring Insights, where the latest data and details on the methodology are both available for download.

About iCIMS

iCIMS is the talent cloud company that empowers organizations to attract, engage, hire, and advance the right talent that builds a diverse, winning workforce. iCIMS accelerates transformation for a community of approximately 4,500 customers, including nearly half of the Fortune 100, that employ more than 35 million people worldwide. For more information, visit