Rate of Job Vacancies Has Remained Largely Flat Across Categories
March 14, 2012 (Arlington, Va.) - Employer hiring projections for the second quarter of 2012 are up for production/service and office/clerical employees, according to responses from 344 employers participating in Bloomberg BNA's quarterly employment survey. There has been no change since last quarter in hiring projections for technical/professional staff.
One out of four employers (25 percent) will add production and service positions in the second quarter of 2012, up from the 21 percent in the first quarter and 22 percent one year ago. This most recent 25 percent figure is a 14-point gain since the first quarter of 2009 (11 percent), which marked a 10-year low in employer hiring intentions for production and service workers.
Fifteen percent of employers anticipate hiring at least some office and clerical workers in the second quarter. This is up 2 percentage points since last quarter (13 percent) and unchanged since the second quarter of 2011. There has been a 9-point improvement in hiring prospects since the 10-year low of 6 percent in the second quarter of 2009. The first to second quarter increase in hiring plans for office and clerical staff has been greater in larger organizations than in smaller ones. In larger organizations, first to second quarter projected hires have increased 7 points (from 11 percent to 18 percent). This compares with a negligible 1-point increase in smaller organizations (from 13 percent to 14 percent).
Twenty-eight percent of surveyed employers plan to add technical and professional staff in the second quarter of 2012. This figure is unchanged from hiring plans reported in the first quarter of 2012 and a 5-point decline since the second quarter of 2011 (33 percent). This nevertheless marks a substantial 12-point increase since the second quarter of 2009.
Another indicator of the job climate can be found in ''net'' hiring projections-the percentage of employers planning to add new positions minus the percentage planning job cuts.
Following a decline from the fourth quarter of 2011 to the first quarter of 2012, net hires have rebounded in the second quarter of this year for production/service and office/clerical employees. After falling from plus 16 points in the fourth quarter of 2011 to plus 9 points in the first quarter of 2012, net hires of production and service workers jumped to plus 20 points in the second quarter of this year. A similar pattern is evident for office and clerical staff, where net hiring projections fell from plus 12 points in the fourth quarter of 2011 to plus 4 points in the first quarter of this year, before rising to plus 8 points in the second quarter. There has been less volatility in net hires for technical and professional workers. A 4-point decline in net hires from the fourth quarter of 2011 (plus 25 points) to the first quarter of this year (plus 21 points) has been followed by a marginal 1-point increase in the second quarter (plus 22 points).
The incidence of employers reporting layoffs has changed little from last quarter and year-ago levels. Six percent of surveyed employers reported technical and professional staff on layoff in the first quarter of this year, down a negligible 1 point from the fourth quarter of 2011 (7 percent), and up only 2 points since the first quarter of 2011 (4 percent). The good news is that reported layoffs are well below the 10-year high of 20 percent observed in the second and fourth quarters of 2009. Employer layoffs of production and service workers (8 percent) have declined slightly from last quarter (11 percent) and year-ago levels (10 percent). However, they are well below the decade high 29 percent reported in the third quarter of 2009. Seven percent of employers report at least some office and clerical workers on layoff status in the first quarter of this year, little changed from the previous quarter (8 percent) and the first quarter of 2011 (5 percent).
Job vacancies have remained largely flat since the fourth quarter of 2010. For production and service positions, reported ''difficult to fill'' positions are 17 percent in the first quarter of 2012, compared with 19 percent in the prior quarter and 15 percent in the first quarter of 2011. Since last quarter, there has been no change in reported office and clerical job vacancies (7 percent), and little change in vacancies for these positions since the first quarter of 2011 (5 percent). Reports of technical and professional vacancies have declined from 47 percent of employers in the fourth quarter of 2011 to 43 percent in the first quarter of 2012. However, there has been little change since the first quarter of 2011 (42 percent).
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This survey is conducted quarterly with a panel of human resource executives representing organizations throughout the United States. Of the 344 employers responding in time for tabulation of this survey, 49 percent have fewer than 250 workers, 17 percent have workforces of 250 to 499 employees, 13 percent employ 500 to 999 workers, 8 percent have workforces of 1,000 to 2,499 employees, and 13 percent employ at least 2,500 workers. By industry, 26 percent of the organizations are manufacturing companies, 48 percent are nonmanufacturing firms, and 26 percent are nonbusiness establishments. By region, 19 percent of the employers are located in the Northeast, 34 percent are in the South, 30 percent operate in the North Central states, and 17 percent are located in the West. Total employment of the reporting organizations: 556,409.
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