SHRM Report: March 2010 Hiring Will Inch Up

Mar 5, 2010

SHRM Report: March 2010 Hiring Will Inch Up

Alexandria, Va. A monthly survey of human resource (HR) managers in more than 1,000 companies across the country shows March 2010 hiring is expected to rise, compared with one year ago. The findings are detailed in the Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM) LINE® Report, the only national employment indicator to include month-ahead hiring expectations.

The SHRM LINE — Leading Indicators of National Employment  hiring index shows a year-over-year positive gain of 53.3 points expected for manufacturing hiring during March, and 38 points for service sector hiring.

“Though overall the labor market continues to struggle, LINE is revealing some positive trends,” said Jennifer Schramm, manager of workplace trends and forecasting at SHRM. “March marks the fifth month in a row in which hiring is up on an annual basis. HR professionals in manufacturing are reporting hiring rates at levels not seen since June 2008 and the percentage of companies hiring in the service sector is the highest since July 2007.”

The manufacturing sector year-over-year numbers show that more employers plan to hire in March 2010 than they did March 2009. A net of 33.7 percent of surveyed companies plan to hire this month compared with the negative net 19.6 percent that laid off workers one year ago.

A closer look shows that the 45.8 percent of manufacturing companies planning to hire this month is the highest reported since June 2008. (The net of 33.7 is derived from the 45.8 percent who plan to hire minus the 12.1 percent who plan to cut jobs.)

In the service sector, year-over-year numbers show a net of 46.5 percent of companies will add jobs in March of this year compared with the net of 8.5 percent a year ago. The data also show that the 51.7 percent of service companies planning to add jobs this month marks the highest level since July 2007. (The net 46.5 percent is derived from the 51.7 percent set to hire minus the 5.2 percent likely to cut jobs).

March marks the ninth straight month that more companies will hire rather than cut jobs in manufacturing, and the 11th consecutive month for such in the service sector.

The March 2010 SHRM LINE Report highlights a set of labor market indicators tracking four national employment measures: (1) job expectations; (2) job vacancies; (3) new-hire compensation; and (4) recruitment difficulty. In short, LINE provides a snapshot of anticipated hiring for the month ahead and also examines data from the previous month.

New-hire compensation packages and recruiting difficulty trends:

The new-hire compensation index reports previous month data. February 2010 numbers show more manufacturing sector companies increased new-hire salaries and benefits than reduced them — 2.8 percent increased while 1.6 percent decreased for a net total of 1.2 percent.

Compared year-over-year, the net total marks a 1 point increase over February 2009.

In the service sector, a net total of 0.2 percent of HR respondents said their company raised new-hire compensation in February 2010. A closer look shows that 3.1 percent increased compensation packages last month while 2.9 reduced compensation packages — net total 0.2 percent.

“For many months new-hire compensation was negative in both sectors, indicating that not only were companies keeping the compensation packages of new hires at a standstill but most were actually cutting the wage and benefits packages they were offering new employees,” said Schramm. “Now, for the first time since July 2007, the rate of new-hire compensation in both sectors rose on an annual basis.”

The recruiting difficulty index shows HR managers had an easier time in February 2009 than February 2010 finding top talent to fill the positions of greatest strategic importance to their companies.

Salaried job openings, trends:

  • Exempt vacancies (manufacturing sector) – February 2010 findingsshow a net total of 19.5 percent of HR professionals reported increases in exempt, primarily salaried, jobs available. (Specifically, 27.5 percent reported increases while 8 reported decreases.)
  • Examined year-over-year, the manufacturing sector exempt vacancies represent a 25.6 point increase from February 2009, and the seventh consecutive month that exempt vacancies are higher compared to same month, previous year.
  • Exempt vacancies (service sector) – A net total of 8.6 percent of firms reported an increase in exempt job vacancies in February. (Specifically, 17.2 percent reported increases while 8.6 percent reported decreases.)
  • Examined year-over-year, the service sector exempt vacancies represent a 16.6 point increase from February 2009. The service sector, like the manufacturing sector, also experienced a seventh straight month during which exempt vacancies were higher compared to the previous year.

Hourly jobs openings, trends:

  • Nonexempt vacancies (manufacturing sector) – February 2010 numbers show a net total of 18.7 percent of HR managers reported an increase in their company’s nonexempt, or hourly, employment vacancy rate. (Specifically, 27.6 percent reported increases while 8.9 percent reported decreases.)
  • Examined year-over-year, the nonexempt employment vacancy rate for manufacturing jobs represents a 26.8 point increase from one year ago.
  • Nonexempt vacancies (service sector) – A net total of 7.3 percent reported an increase in hourly job vacancies in January. (Specifically, 21.3 percent reported an increase while 14 percent reported a decrease.)
  • Examined year-over-year, the February 2010 service sector nonexempt employment vacancy rate marks an 8.7 point increase from February 2009.

“The hourly job vacancy rate trends tracked by LINE highlight what one would expect given that BLS data show manufacturing productivity rose 7.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2009 and Department of Commerce data show the demand for positions in the service sector may be partially driven by the retail industry where sales rose 0.5 percent in January 2010,” said Schramm.

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.

Reporters note: The SHRM LINE Report is released at 8:30 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


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