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(Alexandria, Va., February 27, 2007)—March hiring projections appear strong as most employers from the manufacturing and service sectors plan to increase hiring in the coming five weeks. The findings are reported in the March report of the Leading Indicator of National Employment® (LINE®) index, a collaborative effort between the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and the Rutgers University School of Management and Labor Relations.
This LINE® employment expectations report references the same March period as the report the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) will release on April 6, 2007. The responses in the LINE® survey are weighted using the proportion of total employment represented by the respondent's industry. Beginning this month, these weights have been recalculated to incorporate the annual benchmark revisions that the BLS released on February 2, 2007.
The LINE® employment expectations index indicates strong expansion for manufacturers and service-sector employers through March. There are clear indications, however, that while organizations are successful in filling open positions, they continue to find it increasingly difficult to recruit the skilled talent they need. In February 2007, both the manufacturing and service-sectors revealed a slow-rise in new-hire compensation, compared to a year ago. Responses to the February SHRM/Rutgers LINE® survey provide no evidence of wide-spread wage inflation.
The indicator reports on four employment measures: job expectations, job vacancies, new-hire compensation and recruitment difficulty. The LINE® employment expectations index has consistently provided an early indication of the upcoming BLS numbers. The LINE® "net increasing index" is calculated by taking the percentage increasing minus the percentage decreasing.
The employment expectations for March 2007 increased from February, with 50.1 percent of employers reporting plans to hire in the next five weeks. Slightly more manufacturers expect to expand their workforce in March 2007 than in March 2006 (58.4 percent versus 55.7 percent). Employers reported increases in the number of exempt vacancies (28.8 percent versus 25.9 percent). Largely the result of typical seasonal fluctuations, the non-exempt vacancy index rose from 3.8 in January 2007 to 17.4 in February 2007. Within manufacturing, the February 2007 recruiting difficulty index (18.5) is slightly below the February 2006 level (23.3).
The year-over-year outlook shows substantially more service-sector firms expect to expand their workforce in March 2007 than in March 2006 (61.4 percent versus 45.2 percent). In March 2006, service-sector employment rose by 217,000 on a seasonally adjusted basis. The February 2007 exempt vacancy index is above the February 2006 level. The percentage of service-sector firms reporting fewer exempt vacancies fell from 20.5 percent in February 2006 to 9.1 percent in February 2007. Service-sector firms are having much less success at reducing the number of unfilled exempt positions. The non-exempt vacancy index dipped slightly from 23.2 in January 2007 to 21.0 in February 2007. Compared to February 2006, in February 2007 more service-sector firms are reporting increases in non-exempt vacancies. The February 2007 recruiting difficulty index (10.4) is above the level of February 2006 (8.5). The percentage of service-sector firms reporting increases in recruiting difficulty remained unchanged (14.6 percent) in January 2007 to February 2007.
The LINE® index is an economic indicator that identifies early economic trends and changes in the national job market by surveying human resource (HR) executives at manufacturing and service-sector firms. The indicator is released at 8:30 am ET on the fourth Tuesday of each month.
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