SHRM Labor Market Outlook for Fourth Quarter 2009 Shows One in Five Employers Expect to Hire

Oct 21, 2009

SHRM Labor Market Outlook for Fourth Quarter 2009 Shows One in Five Employers Expect to Hire

Fifty-nine percent will hold steady and maintain staff levels

Alexandria, Va. − Roughly 20 percent of HR professionals say their companies plan to hire during the fourth quarter of 2009, according to the Labor Market Outlook (LMO) quarterly survey by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

Only 14 percent report plans to cut jobs while the overwhelming majority surveyed — 59 percent — say their companies will maintain staff levels, keeping payrolls flat. The LMO data also show that seven percent of HR professionals are unsure of hiring plans for the fourth quarter.

“HR managers are optimistic that the economy is inching towards a recovery but are crafting cautious hiring plans with more aggressive recruitment not expected until 2010,” said Jennifer Schramm, manager of workplace trends and forecasting at SHRM.

SHRM launched the LMO during the first quarter of 2009 to track anticipated hiring trends given the recession. The 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.

Expectations for the fourth quarter of 2009 show an overall improvement over the third quarter during which 47 percent of surveyed HR respondents kept payrolls flat, 30 percent cut jobs, and 24 percent increased staff. Of the nearly one-third of employees who lost their job, senior executives were mostly spared while those laid off included managers, professionals, hourly service workers, skilled manual workers, and contract/temporary workers.

A look at fourth quarter data by organizational sector shows that publicly owned for-profit companies (28 percent) plan the most hiring followed by privately owned for-profit companies (25 percent). The nonprofit sector (12 percent) and government sector (11 percent) follow.

When examined by organizational size, HR professionals in small companies (26 percent) said their organization is likely to increase staff during the fourth quarter. A similar number — 24 percent — from medium-size companies report the same.

HR professionals in large companies (11 percent) said their employers are the least likely to add jobs during the fourth quarter but the most likely (70 percent) to maintain staff levels as well as decrease staff (19 percent) compared with medium-size and small organizations.

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

Regionally, HR professionals were unvaried in positive hiring expectations for the fourth quarter. In the Northeast, 30 percent were somewhat optimistic that there will be job growth compared with 27 percent in the Midwest, 26 percent in the West, and 24 percent in the Southeast.

Additional survey highlights are below.

  • A closer look across ranks – During the fourth quarter, managers and professionals (56 percent) will remain those most affected by layoffs while senior executives (8 percent) will remain the least laid off group. In between the two groups are: hourly service workers (35 percent); contract/temporary employees (31 percent); skilled manual workers (29 percent); and laborers/unskilled manual workers (25 percent).
  • A closer look at sectors – Nonprofit organizations (71 percent) are most likely to maintain staffing levels during the fourth quarter, followed by the government sector (65 percent) and privately owned for-profit companies (64 percent). Roughly 50 percent of HR managers from publicly owned for-profit companies report plans to maintain staff numbers.
  • Job cuts in the fourth quarter? – Overall, 14 percent of HR professionals said their organization will decrease staff during the fourth quarter. By sector, the responses show that 24 percent of surveyed HR managers expect cuts in government staffing and 22 percent expect such in publicly owned for-profit companies. Only 11 percent in privately owned for-profit companies report the same while more — 17 percent — anticipate cuts in the nonprofit sector.
  • What happened in the third quarter? – During the third quarter of 2009, 30 percent of organizations cut staff — the government sector (41 percent) and privately owned for-profit organizations (31 percent) cut more jobs than other sectors. Publicly owned for-profit companies (30 percent) and the nonprofit (28 percent) sector followed closely.

Reporters may view the complete SHRM LMO at:


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


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