SHRM Report: April 2009 Hiring Forecast Plunges to Four Year Low

Apr 3, 2009

Compensation packages are shrinking and competition for open jobs is fierce

Alexandria, Va.– April will continue a bleak employment outlook for job seekers as employment expectations continue to sink in the manufacturing and service sectors, according to the Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM) LINE® Employment Report.

In the biggest decline of the survey’s four year history, the LINE, or Leading Indicators of National Employment®, Report forecasts for April a 53.5 point drop in manufacturing sector hiring and a 40.7 point decline in service sector hiring compared to this time last year.

“The recession continues to impact the job market, as seen in this month’s LINE Report, where April has traditionally been a strong month for manufacturing job growth,” said Jennifer Schramm, manager of workplace trends and forecasting at SHRM. “In April 2007, more than 60 percent of companies added to their payrolls. That number has dwindled to 16.7 percent in just two years and 31.2 of organizations report they are now decreasing their payrolls.”

Given April’s hiring expectations, HR professionals and recruiters in both sectors noted little difficulty in finding qualified applicants. For the first time in four years, LINE recorded single-digit response levels — 2.7 percent in the manufacturing sector and 1.7 percent in the service sector — for those HR professionals reporting increased difficulty with recruiting in March with many more reporting decreased recruiting difficulty (24.0 and 25.4 percent respectively).

“The low response totals can likely be attributed to two factors: fewer HR professionals are recruiting right now, and, with an increased number of people looking for work, those employers who are hiring can afford to be selective and are having few issues with finding top-level talent,” said Schramm.

The findings are detailed in the April 2009 LINE Employment Report (, a set of labor market indicators that forecast changes to four national employment measures: job expectations, job vacancies, new-hire compensation and recruitment difficulty.

LINE is based on a monthly survey of human resource professionals at more than 500 manufacturing and 500 private service-sector companies. Together, these two sectors comprise more than 90 percent of America’s private sector employment.

The manufacturing sector:

The LINE index of manufacturing employment expectations for April 2009 dropped 53.5 points compared with one year ago. Almost twice as many human resource managers will be cutting payrolls (31.2 percent) as will be hiring (16.7 percent). Signs of the current recession continue by comparing this month’s employment expectations to those in April 2008, where 51.5 percent of HR managers were hiring and 12.5 percent were decreasing payrolls.

March 2009 payroll vacancies, tracking exempt (salaried) and nonexempt (hourly) workers fell. HR managers report a 19.7 point drop in nonexempt job vacancies and a 24.0 point plummet in exempt job vacancies.

For the first time in four years, the net total for new-hire compensation ventured into negative territory. More HR managers said they were decreasing new-hire compensation (2.6 percent) than were increasing (1.3 percent). This is the lowest March response total in the report’s history.

The service sector:

The LINE index of service sector employment expectations fell 40.7 points. Although February and March showed some promise in hiring, in April, service sector hiring regressed with 21.7 percent adding to payrolls, 27.2 percent conducting layoffs.

HR professionals report an 11.3 point drop for exempt job vacancies and a 7.4 point drop in nonexempt hiring vacancies.

Only 1.2 percent of businesses will increase new hire compensation, while 3.4 percent will decrease compensation in March 2009, another four year low.

About LINE

The SHRM LINE Report is released at 9 a.m. Eastern time on the third Friday following the conclusion of the week containing the 12th of the month. The SHRM employment expectations index describes the same time period referenced approximately one month later in the Employment Situation Report issued by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.


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 over 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


Job Finder

Find an HR Job Near You
Post a Job


Find the Right Vendor for Your HR Needs

SHRM’s HR Vendor Directory contains over 10,000 companies

Search & Connect