Confidence Drops for Fourth-Quarter 2011 Jobs Market, SHRM Report Shows

Oct 11, 2011

Alexandria, Va. — Fewer human resource professionals are optimistic about the fourth-quarter jobs market compared with one year ago, reports the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

Just over one-third—34 percent—of human resource professionals anticipate job growth during the fourth quarter of 2011 compared with 57 percent who expressed confidence in the 2011 second-quarter outlook.

SHRM also reports that nearly four in 10 (37 percent) human resource professionals said their company plans to add jobs during the fourth quarter of 2011. The number marks a decline from the previous quarter when 44 percent of companies hired workers.

The findings are highlighted in the SHRM Jobs Outlook Survey (JOS), a biannual report published by SHRM. The SHRM JOS provides a snapshot of hiring optimism for the quarter ahead and trends that unfolded in the most recent quarters.

“Many employers are getting more productivity out of their current staff by increasing their workers’ hours on the job,” said Jennifer Schramm, GPHR, and manager of workplace trends and forecasting at SHRM. “Human resource professionals said hourly workers logged longer hours in the third quarter of 2011 but anticipate the long days will not continue into the fourth quarter.”

Additional findings from the fourth-quarter 2011 SHRM JOS show:

  • Human resource professionals in the Southeast report the greatest jobs-outlook optimism (43 percent) followed by those in the West (33 percent), the Northeast (29 percent), and the Midwest (28 percent);
  • While some human resource professionals are optimistic, others remain pessimistic about job growth (45 percent in the Midwest followed by 43 percent in the Northeast, 27 percent in the West, and 26 percent in the Southeast); and
  • More than half—53 percent—of human resource professionals said their organization will maintain total staff levels in the fourth quarter of 2011, while 37 percent will hire more staff, and 10 percent will layoff workers.

The fourth-quarter SHRM JOS report also shows third-quarter trends:

  • 60 percent of human resource professionals cited “skilled professionals” as the most difficult category of worker to hire during the third quarter of 2011;
  • 15 percent of human resource professionals said “skilled manual workers” were the second most difficult category of worker to hire during the third quarter; and
  • During the third quarter of 2011, 44 percent of organizations represented in the report maintained staff levels while the same number—44 percent—increased staff, and 13 percent laid off workers.

For details, visit the labor market and economic data section of at Follow SHRM Research on Twitter @SHRM_Research.

Media: For more information or to schedule an interview with a labor market expert, contact Julie Malveaux of SHRM Media Relations at 703-535-6273 and or Jennifer Hughes at 703-535-6072 and

About the Society for Human Resource Management

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is the world’s largest association devoted to human resource management. Representing more than 250,000 members in more than 140 countries, the Society serves the needs of HR professionals and advances the interests of the HR profession. Founded in 1948, SHRM has more than 575 affiliated chapters within the United States and subsidiary offices in China and India. Visit SHRM Online at and follow us on Twitter at


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