HR Expects Positive Finish to 2016

Projections may indicate who will win the U.S. presidential election

By Roy Maurer Oct 4, 2016
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A majority of human resource professionals reported being a little less optimistic about hiring for the remainder of 2016, according to the newest Jobs Outlook Survey (JOS) by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), but overall positive about their companies' year-end results.

The July 2016 online survey of 502 randomly selected SHRM members showed that HR professionals believe business conditions at their organizations are strong and expect the second half of the year to yield steady job growth, few layoffs and solid financial health for their companies.

SHRM's JOS report examines hiring and recruiting trends and financial conditions at organizations in several U.S. business sectors twice a year.

The 58 percent of respondents who said they were confident about hiring represents a decline from the second half of 2015, when a combined 69 percent of respondents expressed some level of optimism about job growth.

Hiring expectations are also down year-over-year (37 percent expect hiring to occur at their organizations, down from 42 percent in the second half of 2015). Large employers (2,500 to 9,999 employees) are the most likely to add jobs in the second half of 2016.

Other highlights of the survey include:

  • 13 percent of HR professionals said they were pessimistic about the job market and anticipated job cuts. That's up slightly from 10 percent in the second half of 2015. Another 29 percent of respondents were neither optimistic nor pessimistic about job growth.
  • A majority of respondents classified their organizations' financial health as either good (51 percent) or excellent (32 percent).
  • 37 percent of respondents expected to hire new staff before the year was out.
  • A majority of employers (71 percent) said variable pay would remain the same and another 18 percent said it would increase. Over half (51 percent) of public-sector employers and 28 percent of private-sector firms expect base pay to rise in the second half of 2016 and very few (3 percent) indicated that compensation would decrease this year.
  • Only 7 percent of respondents said their organizations would conduct layoffs during the second half of 2016.

The report also found that hiring activity was strong during the first half of the year. More than 2 out of 5 (43 percent) respondents said their companies created jobs between January and June. Meanwhile, 41 percent of organizations reported maintaining staffing levels and 16 percent said they conducted layoffs in the beginning months of 2016.

The SHRM data supports many labor market forecasts for the remainder of 2016 and early 2017 predicting steady hiring and low unemployment. The National Association for Business Economics forecast 201,000 new jobs per month for the rest of 2016 and the unemployment rate to average 4.8 percent. The Federal Reserve Board projected the unemployment rate to range from 4.5 percent to 4.9 percent for the remainder of 2016, and from 4.3 percent to 4.8 percent in 2017.

The positive economic projections could signal which party will be in the White House next year. "While there is much debate about exactly how predictive various economic variables might be of national election outcomes, no one doubts that job growth is a crucial element of economic and political sentiment," said Josh Wright, chief economist for iCIMS, a talent acquisition software company based in Matawan, N.J. Wright is the author of a recent report on how economic trends could affect the presidential election.

"When you and the people around you are all employed, everything looks a bit better and you're more likely to vote for the incumbent political party," Wright said. "Conversely, economic hardship breeds dissatisfaction and therefore changes in leadership. All else being equal, stronger job growth should favor the incumbent party and weaker job growth should favor the challenger party."

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