SHRM Report: February 2012 Hiring Gains Expected But Will Trail One Year Ago

Feb 2, 2012

Alexandria, Va. Feb. 2, 2012 – Though far more companies are expected to hire than lay off in February 2012, the numbers will lag compared to one year ago according to a report from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) that surveyed 500 service-sector companies and 500 manufacturing companies.

The report shows that on an annual basis -- comparing February 2012 to February 2011 -- service sector hiring will drop by a net of 12.3 points and manufacturing sector hiring will fall by a net of 2.5 points.

The findings are detailed in the SHRM Leading Indicators of National Employment® (LINE®) Report. LINE is the only national employment index capturing HR professionals’ month-ahead hiring expectations, and past-month recruiting difficulty. The report also includes a new-hire compensation index and an index of exempt and non-exempt job vacancies.

A closer look at the SHRM LINE service-sector hiring index shows that a net of 20.9 percent of employers plan to add jobs in February 2012 compared with a net of 33.2 percent that did so one year ago—a 12.3 point drop.

The month alone, however, shows a more positive outlook with more service-sector companies planning to hire (26.3 percent) than layoff (5.4 percent).

In the manufacturing sector, a net of 40.2 percent of companies plan to hire workers in February 2012, a slight drop from the 42.7 percent that added workers one year ago.

The manufacturing-sector hiring index also shows that February 2012 -- when examined on its own -- will have significantly more companies hiring (49.1 percent) workers than cutting (8.9 percent) jobs.

"The economy is showing gains in job growth but not at the pace needed to significantly bring down the unemployment rate,” said Jennifer Schramm, GPHR, and manager of workplace trends and forecasting at SHRM.

Regarding past-month trends, the SHRM LINE Report shows the recruiting-difficulty index and new-hire compensation for January 2012 rose slightly in both the manufacturing and service sectors.

Despite the high number of people seeking employment, finding workers to fill highly-skilled jobs remains difficult,” said Schramm. “Those job seekers able to land such job offers are likely the ones seeing the small gains in new-hire compensation tracked in the SHRM LINE report.”

The February 2012 SHRM LINE report shows that during January 2012:

  • In the manufacturing sector, a net total of 12.2 percent of human resource managers said their company experienced recruiting difficulty (15 percent said yes, 2.8 percent said no;
  • In the service sector, a net total of 6.8 percent of human resource managers said their company experienced difficulty in recruiting for key positions (11.1 percent said yes, 4.3 percent said no); and
  • he numbers are less pronounced on an annual basis, rising by only 3.9 points in the manufacturing sector and a moderate 5.6 points in the service sector.

Though the report does not show specific salary bumps, it does provide an index of the general up or down trend. The number of companies reporting increased new-hire compensation rose by 1.8 points in the manufacturing sector and 5.6 points in the service sector compared to the same time last year.

A separate SHRM survey released late last year looked deeply into the recruiting-difficulty issues raised in the LINE Report. The most difficult jobs to fill include: engineering positions; high-skilled medical positions, high-skilled technical positions; positions calling for scientists, and managerial and executive-level positions. Human resource professionals also noted job-candidate skills gaps in critical thinking and problem solving, professionalism and work ethic, written communication, and leadership.

Highlights of SHRM LINE year-over-year findings:

Employment Expectations



In February, hiring will drop slightly in manufacturing and fall moderately in services compared with a year ago.

-2.5 points

-12.3 points

Recruiting Difficulty

In January, the index for recruiting difficulty rose slightly in both sectors compared with a year ago.

+3.9 points

+5.6 points

New-Hire Compensation

In January, the rate of increase for new-hire compensation rose in both manufacturing and services.

+1.8 points

+5.6 points

Source: SHRM Leading Indicators of National Employment

To read the SHRM LINE Report, visit: and click the “Latest LINE Report” button. Follow SHRM Research on Twitter @SHRM_Research.

Media: The SHRM LINE Report is released at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time on the first Thursday of each month. The SHRM employment expectations index describes the same time period referenced approximately one month later in the Employment SituationReport 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 Follow us on Twitter at: @SHRMPress


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