Hiring expectations set four-year lows in November

November 10, 2008

Employment expectations in the manufacturing and service sectors will maintain a downward trend in November as the economy continues to shed jobs, accordingto the Society for Human Resource Management's (SHRM) Leading Indicators of National Employment (LINE) survey. For the third consecutive month, hiring activity in both the manufacturing and service sectors is at the lowest rate in four years.

Both manufacturing and service-sector employment expectations for November are down dramatically from a year ago. In the manufacturing sector, 27.2 percent of respondents said hiring would increase while 24.7 percent said hiring would decrease. The net increase of just 2.5 percent for November 2008 is a sizable drop from a net increase of 41.5 percent in November 2007.

The service sector will not fare much better in November, as the gap between hiring and layoff activity has closed dramatically. A net total of 9.9 percent of survey respondents expect to increase hiring in November (28.6 percent will increase, 18.7 percent will decrease), a sizable decline from a net of 42.5 percent in November 2007.

To compare, manufacturing employment declined by 191,000 jobs on a not seasonally adjusted annual basis and lost 183,000 jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis in November 2007, according to the BLS.

High-level talent is getting easier to attract for many recruiters, if in fact they are hiring at the moment. For the first time in four years in October, more manufacturing respondents reported less trouble with recruiting compared with those that reported increased difficulty (8.7 and 18.3 percent, respectively). This brings the index into the negative numbers, and at -9.6, it is a strong contrast to October 2007, when a net total of 16.2 percent reported increased difficulty in recruiting top-level talent.

Service-sector respondents leaned even further toward decreased recruiting difficulty. This index was also negative, down to -20.8 (8.6 percent reported more difficulty, 29.4 percent reported less difficulty). This compares to a positive net of 11 percent in October 2007.

Many HR professionals probably are not engaged in recruiting at the moment, due to the poor economy and an overall weak labor market. According to the BLS, the job openings rate nationally declined to 2.3 percent in August 2008, the lowest level sinceApril 2004.

The full report can be found here.