Increased Christian job listings and heightened interest in advertising among faith-based entities may have supported the dip in the unemployment rate reported by the U.S. Labor Department on Friday.
The Labor Department reported that 216,000 new jobs were added in the month of March, reducing the number of unemployed workers to 8.8 percent compared to 8.9 percent in February. The dip marks a two-year low in unemployment amid layoffs at factories, retail stores, and various other industries. The gains have been said to come almost entirely from private businesses.
Kevin and Kay Marie Brennfleck, husband and wife career counselors, said they have seen an increase in the numbers of jobs posted on their employment website, Christian Career Center. Though the couple is based in Michigan, their site receives job listings from all over the country.
Typically, the site receives about 400 new job listings a month from Christian private schools, ministry groups, and churches, said Kevin Brennfleck. Since the start of the year, however, he said job listings have spiked to about 457 listings a month – an increase of almost 15 percent.
Additionally, Christian Jobs and Church Staffing, the world's largest Christian employment websites, have also reported increases in the number of job postings from businesses such as ministries Campus Crusade for Christ International, Corporate Chaplains of America, and faith-based aid group Samaritan's Purse.
A sales specialist for the Shepard's Guide, a Maryland-based Christian business directory, said that he has seen renewed interest from businesses in advertising. Speaking on the condition of anonymity, he told The Christian Post, "People aren't afraid to advertise anymore."
The Shepard's Guide directs users to Christian-owned and operated businesses including contractors, law offices, and book stores. When the economy was down and unemployment rates were up, he said, "Every advertiser was weary to spend money."
Now he says, "This year it seems like the economy is picking up and people are spending."
Labor statistics released last November showed that that the U.S. unemployment rate was at nearly 10 percent. The numbers drove President Barack Obama to create an economic advisory panel for creating jobs. Obama chose Jeffrey Immelt, General Electric's chief executive officer, to head the panel. The president also pleaded with businesses to tap the $1.69 trillion stowed away in their collective reserves to hire workers in a February Chamber of Commerce meeting.
Don Barefoot, president of the Christian business network C12, commented after the speech that of all businesses, Christian businesses have a strong desire to hire workers. However, he said they would only do so when they felt economically stable.
Statistics provided by the U.S. Department of Labor suggests that privately run businesses, including those Christian in nature, now feel stable enough to begin hiring again. Private employers added 230,000 jobs in March. In the previous month of February, private sector filled 240,000 positions. The last time private hiring topped 200,000 in two consecutive months was in 2006.
The 8.8 percent dip marks the sharpest drop in unemployment since 1983.