U.S. Jobs & Labor Report: February 2023

Report summary

The U.S. labor market is still humming along, boasting strong job growth and a decades-low unemployment rate. However, recession risks are growing as interest rate hikes over the course of 2022 begin to take their full effect and consumers start to pull back on spending. Consumers are increasingly struggling to navigate the ongoing effects from last year’s spike in prices by drawing on credit and savings, and Morning Consult’s proprietary data suggests that consumer spending weakened at the end of 2022. A further slowdown in consumer demand would likely be followed by a slowdown in business investment and hiring. Furthermore, continued elevated nominal wage growth would place pressure on the Federal Reserve to lift rates higher for longer. While there are still no signs of significant weakening in any broad measures of employment, 2023 will test the U.S. labor market’s resilience, and with inflation slowing, the future of the U.S. economy increasingly depends on the future of U.S. jobs growth.

Key Takeaways

  • Morning Consult’s Lost Pay and Income tracker fell to 10.3% in January, from 11.3% in December, and is now just above series lows.
  • Employed U.S. adults are continuing to look for new positions, despite recession risks and news of layoffs, as the prospect of higher pay outweighs any desire for the improved job security of staying put.
  • Widely publicized layoffs in the technology, media and financial services industries are spooking higher-paid workers.

About the authors

A headshot photograph of John Leer
John Leer
Chief Economist

John Leer leads Morning Consult’s global economic research, overseeing the company’s economic data collection, validation and analysis. He is an authority on the effects of consumer preferences, expectations and experiences on purchasing patterns, prices and employment.

John continues to advance scholarship in the field of economics, recently partnering with researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland to design a new approach to measuring consumers’ inflation expectations.

This novel approach, now known as the Indirect Consumer Inflation Expectations measure, leverages Morning Consult’s high-frequency survey data to capture unique insights into consumers’ expectations for future inflation.

Prior to Morning Consult, John worked for Promontory Financial Group, offering strategic solutions to financial services firms on matters including credit risk modeling and management, corporate governance, and compliance risk management.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in economics and philosophy with honors from Georgetown University and a master’s degree in economics and management studies (MEMS) from Humboldt University in Berlin. 

His analysis has been cited in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Reuters, The Washington Post, The Economist and more.

Follow him on Twitter @JohnCLeer. For speaking opportunities and booking requests, please email [email protected]

A headshot photograph of Jesse Wheeler
Jesse Wheeler
Senior Economist

Jesse Wheeler previously worked at Morning Consult as a senior economist.