SHRM Leading Indicators of National Employment® (LINE®)

Sep 1, 2016

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September 2016 OverviewManufacturingServices
Employment Expectations: In September, the hiring rate will fall in both sectors compared with a year ago.

Recruiting Difficulty: In August, recruiting difficulty declined in manufacturing and rose in services compared with a year ago.

New-Hire Compensation: In August, the index for new-hire compensation fell in manufacturing and rose in services compared with a year ago.

SOURCE: September 2016 SHRM LINE Report

Employment Expectations     

In September, hiring rates will take a step back compared with a year ago

In September, job creation rates will fall in both sectors compared with a year ago. Layoff rates will vary, as fewer manufacturers will cut jobs and more service-sector employers will conduct layoffs.

A net of 40.7 percent of manufacturers will add jobs in September (50.1 percent will hire, 9.4 percent will cut jobs). The sector's hiring index will decrease by 0.5 points compared with a year ago. A net of 43.2 percent of service-sector companies will conduct hiring in September (49.8 percent will add jobs, 6.6 percent will cut jobs). The index will fall by 5.8 points compared with a year ago.

The LINE employment expectations index provides an early indication of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Employment Situation report findings. BLS numbers covering the same time period are released approximately one month after the LINE report.

Month / YearPercent IncreasingPercent DecreasingNet Increasing
Sep 201349.910.439.5
Sep 201456.86.350.5
Sep 201553.912.741.2
Sep 201650.19.440.7
Annual Change-3.83.3-0.5
Month / YearPercent IncreasingPercent DecreasingNet Increasing
Sep 201346.97.539.4
Sep 201439.19.229.9
Sep 201555.06.049.0
Sep 201649.86.643.2
Annual Change-5.2-0.6-5.8

Recruiting Difficulty     

In August, recruiting difficulty was mixed compared with a year ago

LINE's recruiting difficulty index measures how difficult it is for firms to recruit candidates to fill the positions of greatest strategic importance to their companies.

A net of 28.9 percent of manufacturing respondents had more difficulty with recruiting in August, down 6.2 points from August 2015. A net of 39.3 percent of service-sector HR professionals had more difficulty recruiting in August, an increase of 3.5 points from a year ago.

Other SHRM findings show that many HR professionals are still having challenges with talent management and recruitment. More than two-thirds of HR professionals (68 percent) reported challenging recruiting conditions in the current talent market, according to The New Talent Landscape: Recruiting Difficulty and Skills Shortages, a SHRM research report from June 2016. 

Month / YearPercent IncreasingPercent DecreasingNet Increasing
Aug 201320.62.917.7
Aug 201425.92.123.8
Aug  201536.91.835.1
Aug 201632.03.128.9
Annual Change-4.9-1.3-6.2
Month / YearPercent IncreasingPercent DecreasingNet Increasing
Aug 201318.08.99.1
Aug 201419.14.614.5
Aug 201542.36.535.8
Aug 201641.52.239.3
Annual Change-

New-Hire Compensation

In August, results varied for new-hire compensation compared with a year ago

In the manufacturing sector, a net total of 14.3 percent of respondents reported raising new-hire compensation in August, down 2.4 points from August 2015. In the service sector, a net total of 23.6 percent of companies increased new-hire compensation in August, an increase of 3.8 points compared with a year ago. 

Despite overall low levels of unemployment, many organizations are still keeping new-hire compensation flat, and they may be directing more resources toward benefits as part of compensation packages. August marked the third consecutive month that the new-hire compensation index fell in manufacturing when compared with the previous year.

Although compensation typically improves as hiring increases, wages have not grown significantly on a widespread basis during the economic recovery.

Month / YearPercent IncreasingPercent DecreasingNet Increasing
Aug 20136.60.56.1
Aug 20149.00.09.0
Aug 201517.10.416.7
Aug 201616.01.714.3
Annual Change-1.1-1.3-2.4
Month / YearPercent IncreasingPercent DecreasingNet Increasing
Aug 201315.40.614.8
Aug 201410.20.49.8
Aug 201520.81.019.8
Aug 201624.71.123.6
Annual Change3.9-0.13.8

Vacant Positions in Exempt Employment

In August, fewer employers report increases in salaried job openings

Vacancies are defined as open positions that employers are actively trying to fill. LINE data cover exempt vacancies, or primarily salaried positions, and nonexempt vacancies, which are mostly hourly jobs. Changes in the number of job vacancies can be one of the earliest indicators of a shift in the balance between labor supply and demand. Typically, exempt employment fluctuates by smaller rates than nonexempt employment during economic downturns and expansions.

In August, a net total of 11.4 percent of manufacturers reported increases in exempt vacancies (19.8 percent reported more vacancies, 8.4 percent reported fewer), down 3 points from August 2015. In the service sector, a net total of 11.2 percent of respondents reported increases in exempt vacancies in August (19.4 percent reported more vacancies, 8.2 percent reported fewer), down 0.8 points from August 2015.

Month / YearPercent IncreasingPercent DecreasingNet Increasing
Aug 201326.512.713.8
Aug 201432.19.222.9
Aug 201525.010.614.4
Aug 201619.88.411.4
Annual Change-5.22.2-3.0
Month / YearPercent IncreasingPercent DecreasingNet Increasing
Aug 201324.711.812.9
Aug 201428.88.020.8
Aug 201521.09.012.0
Aug 201619.48.211.2
Annual Change-1.60.8-0.8

Vacant Positions in Nonexempt Employment

In August, more employers reported increases in hourly job openings

In contrast to exempt employment, nonexempt employment typically changes by a greater percentage during economic downturns and expansions.

A net total of 26.1 percent of manufacturing respondents reported that nonexempt vacancies rose in​ August, a 2.4-point increase from August 2015. In services, a net total of 32.5 percent of respondents reported an increase in nonexempt vacancies in August, up 5 points from August 2015.
HR professionals in both sectors have generally reported increases in job openings within the month of each LINE survey. For every month since September 2009 – shortly after the end of the Great Recession – the manufacturing and service sectors have reported a net increase for nonexempt openings. 

Month / YearPercent IncreasingPercent DecreasingNet Increasing
Aug 201329.614.115.5
Aug 201441.110.630.8
Aug 201537.613.923.7
Aug 201638.812.726.1
Annual Change1.21.22.4
Month / YearPercent IncreasingPercent DecreasingNet Increasing
Aug 201332.113.818.3
Aug 201435.410.125.3
Aug 201539.311.827.5
Aug 201640.88.332.5
Annual Change1.53.55.0
The LINE Report examines four key areas: employers' hiring expectations, new-hire compensation, difficulty in recruiting top-level talent and job vacancies. It is based on a monthly survey of private-sector human resource professionals at more than 500 manufacturing and 500 service-sector companies. Together, these two sectors employ more than 90 percent of the nation's private-sector workers.

Jennifer Schramm, SHRM-SCP, M. Phil., manager, Workforce Trends and Forecasting, SHRM:

Joseph Coombs, senior analyst, Workforce Trends and Forecasting, SHRM:

Steven Director, Ph.D., economic advisor for SHRM LINE, Rutgers University:

© 2016 Society for Human Resource Management. Permission is granted to copy this work with appropriate attribution to copyright owners. All content is for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as a guaranteed outcome. SHRM cannot accept responsibility for any errors or omissions, or any liability resulting from the use or misuse of any such information.

Need data on what’s really happening in the job market? The SHRM LINE Employment Report covers the service and manufacturing sectors on key areas for recruiting each month. 

  • LINE is the only national employment indicator that includes hiring expectations for the month ahead – released one month earlier than the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Employment Situation Report covering the same period.
  • LINE provides the only published index of changes in new-hire compensation.
  • LINE includes the only published measure of recruiting difficulty of highly qualified candidates for the most critical positions.

Do you have your SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP? Earn up to 20 PDCs by using LINE data to advance your organization. Refer to page 10 of the recertification handbook.

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For questions on LINE® data please contact SHRM Research at (703) 535-6301 or Members of the media should contact SHRM Media Affairs at (703) 535-6273, 703-535-6072, or


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