HR Managers Less Confident in Hiring Gains for Fourth Quarter 2010

Oct 22, 2010

Alexandria, Va. – Human resource professionals are less optimistic about hiring in the fourth quarter of 2010 compared to previous quarters according to the SHRM Labor Market Outlook (LMO), a quarterly report published by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

Confidence in the job market and job growth expectations dropped sharply from the third quarter to the fourth quarter of 2010. Thirty-nine percent of HR professionals surveyed expressed some level of confidence in the U.S. job market for the fourth quarter of 2010 and expect job growth, down from 56 percent in the third quarter of 2010.

More HR managers (26 percent) expect to hire in the fourth quarter of 2010 than expected to hire at the same time in 2009 (20 percent). A majority of employers (55 percent) will maintain staffing levels while 11 percent plan to cut jobs. Eight percent were unsure of staffing changes at the time the survey was fielded.

“Though 39 percent of HR professionals report having at least some level of confidence in the U.S. job market for the fourth quarter, this is a big drop from the 56 percent who felt confident last quarter,” said Jennifer Schramm, manager of workplace trends and forecasting at SHRM. “ There still appears to be a lot of hesitation among hiring managers and employers to expand payrolls, likely due to uncertainty about future economic conditions.”

What size companies will hire?

HR professionals in large organizations (31 percent) said they were likely to increase staff during the fourth quarter, followed by small organizations (28 percent), and medium-sized groups (25 percent).

“Human resource professionals at large companies are most likely to say their organizations plan to add jobs this quarter,” said Schramm. “This could be a reflection of improved company profits and could also signal that these larger employers are finding it more difficult to further boost the productivity levels of their existing workforce.”

Maintaining staff levels continues to be the biggest trend, with 64 percent of HR professionals in small organizations reporting such plans for the fourth-quarter, 60 percent in medium-size organizations, and 59 percent in large companies.

The SHRM LMO defines small organizations as those with fewer than 100 employees and medium-sized organizations as employing 100 to 499 employees. Large organizations are those with more than 500 workers.

Will your sector be hiring?

Publicly owned for-profit companies (47 percent) expect to hire most among the surveyed sectors in the fourth quarter of 2010, followed by privately owned for-profit organizations (27 percent), and nonprofit organizations (25 percent). The government plans the least hiring (13 percent) among those sectors surveyed.

Hiring levels will continue to remain flat as more organizations plan to maintain staff levels in the fourth quarter of 2010 than did the third quarter. Two-thirds (67 percent) of nonprofit organizations and the government (66 percent) expect to keep current staff levels. In privately owned for-profit organizations, 62 percent plan on maintaining staff levels, and 44 percent of publicly owned for-profit companies expect to keep current staff levels.

Are there regional hiring trends?

Optimism about job growth varied only slightly among HR professionals regionally. More HR professionals in the Midwest (nine percent) reported being very optimistic about hiring in fourth quarter 2010 than did those in the Southeast (five percent), Northeast (four percent), and West (three percent).

HR managers across the country are somewhat optimistic about job growth with 44 percent in the Northeast reporting the highest levels, closely followed by 31 percent in the Midwest and the West, and 29 percent in the Southeast.

Will you be laid off?

Only 11 percent of HR professionals say their organizations will decrease staff in the fourth quarter of 2010. Managers and professionals (33 percent) will be those most affected by layoffs, followed closely by skilled manual workers (31 percent). Senior executives (four percent) will be the least affected group. The three remaining employee types – contract/temporary workers, laborers/unskilled manual workers, and hourly service workers – will be affected by staff decreases at the same rate (29 percent).

The SHRM Labor Market Outlook launched in January 2009. The SHRM LMO examines hiring and recruiting trends based on a quarterly survey of more than 400 HR professionals managing company staffing issues from a broad range of public and private entities. Visit:


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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