Employment Growth Surveys Reflect Contradictions in Job Trends
Depending upon which survey is used to gauge employment trends results
differ and even contradict each other during the month of October 2006.
Military related job growth seems to hold the greatest opportunities
while professional job growth is not clear. Employees however appeared
to feel positive about prospects in general.
Employee confidence in the United States rose less than one point to
59.2 in October according to the Spherion Employment Report. The
October increase represented the fourth increase in six months and the
highest level since December 2005.
The Spherion® Employee Confidence Index, a monthly gauge of overall
worker confidence, increased 0.7 points in October, following a 2.8
point increase in September. The Index is 5.1 points higher than the
level recorded in October 2005. The study represents employee
confidence on the strength of the economy and the availability of new
Harris Interactive surveyed 3,112 working adults for the Spherion
study. Sixty-three percent of workers believed the economy was either
stable or strengthening, compared with 59 percent in September. Some 27
percent believed more jobs were available, which is up 2 points from
Fewer workers were confident in their ability to find a job (59 percent
in October compared to 61 percent in September) and in the future of
their employer (64 percent in October versus 65 percent in September.)
These small drops did not impact workers’ optimism about their job
security, Spherion concluded, which rose 1 percent to 80 percent, the
highest level ever recorded.
Employees' intentions to change jobs held steady, with 36 percent
saying they planned to change jobs at some point before October 2007.
"Our latest report shows that workers have been largely unfazed by the
weaker than expected economic expansion over the past few months," said
Roy Krause, president and chief executive officer of Spherion. "I
believe the jump in macroeconomic confidence is again largely due to
falling energy prices and continued job growth, but with a lot of
economic uncertainty and a contentious election ahead of us, I was
somewhat surprised the gain was as significant as it was."
Krause added that the employment environment remains favorable, but the
market as a whole is showing signs of only moderate growth. "We see
steady demand from our clients for both temporary and direct hire
positions in a wide variety of industries, which certainly is good news
for the 36 percent of workers who plan on making a job change soon."
Employment Activity in
Business activity in the non-manufacturing sector increased at a faster
rate in October 2006, according to the United States' purchasing and
supply executives in the latest Non-Manufacturing ISM Report On
Business®. (ISM is the Institute for Supply Management)
The Non-Manufacturing ISM Report compiles data from purchasing and
supply executives nationwide. Membership of the Non-Manufacturing
Business Survey Committee is diversified by NAICS, based on each
industry’s contribution to gross domestic product (GDP.)
Anthony Nieves, chair of the ISM, said, "Non-manufacturing business
activity increased for the 43rd consecutive month in October.
"Business activity increased at a faster rate in October than in
September. Inventories, new export orders, imports and inventory
sentiment also increased at a faster rate.
"Nine of 18 non-manufacturing industry sectors reported increased
activity in October. Members’ comments in October continue to be mixed
concerning current business conditions; however, the majority of the
comments are positive. The Prices Index decreased 4.8 percentage points
this month to 51.9 percent. The overall indication in October is
continued economic growth in the non-manufacturing sector at a faster
pace than in September."
Despite the good news employment activity in the non-manufacturing
sector increased at a slower rate in October compared with September.
Industries reporting reductions in the workforce did include
higher-skilled jobs in the United States. ISM’s Non-Manufacturing
Employment Index for October was 51 percent, a decrease of 2.6
percentage points from the 53.6 percent reported in September.
Eight industries reported increased employment, eight reported a
decrease, and two indicated employment is unchanged from September.
Comments from respondents include: "Hiring freeze and some layoffs" and
"recent downsizing of 5 percent of the workforce."
Conflicting Results on Professional
The industries that reported growth in employment included agriculture,
forestry, fishing and hunting; transportation and warehousing;
management and support; public administration; health care and social
assistance; information; wholesale trade; and educational services.
The eight industries reporting a reduction in employment in October
were mining; arts, entertainment and recreation; real estate, rental
and leasing; accommodation and food services; professional, scientific
and technical services; construction; retail; and finance and insurance.
In contrast with ISM's results, online job seeking tool monster.com
reported that for October its online job ads found no change in hiring
activity. According to monster.com online demand for jobs grew for
professional, scientific, and technical services sector. Worker demand
for mining and utility industries reflected continued natural resources
expansion and focus on alternative energy sources growth.
Military recruiting grew and aerospace jobs soared according to
monster.com as the United States continues to invest more in military
spending in the long-term to fight wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"Professional and technical services such as IT, design, software,
advertising and marketing also exhibited strong online job
availability, with computer and mathematical occupations showing 33
percent year-over-year growth and suggesting continued high demand for
qualified technology workers," monster.com reported.
Nonetheless, the Monster Index recorded its lowest annual growth rate
(20.3 percent) since its inception in October 2003, reflecting an
overall slowdown in economic and payroll growth during the third
quarter. Monster.com does not verify each job posting so it is not
possible to estimate how many of the jobs posted on monster.com were
actually marketing scams. However the advertising and marketing
category notoriously accounts for the greatest number of scam-type job
"While the October findings of the Monster Employment Index are
consistent with other economic indicators that show a slowing down from
the rapid pace of economic growth during the first half of 2006, the
fact that unemployment rates across the country are at five-year lows
suggests little slack in the overall labor market," said Steve
Pogorzelski, Monster Worldwide president.
"In fact, there are numerous industries where robust expansion and
existing labor shortages continue to spur demand for workers,
particularly in areas such as advertising/marketing, IT/engineering,
healthcare, defense/security and utilities."
the following results:
- Mining; Utilities; and
Professional, Scientific and Technical Industry Sectors See Higher
Demand for Workers in October
During October, eight of the 20 industry categories tracked by the
Index showed greater online demand for workers, led by utilities, which
surged 14 points and registered the strongest month-to-month increase.
Mining also edged up for the third consecutive month, rising four
points. The growth of opportunities in these sectors reflects the
increased investment in oil and gas technology, as well as renewed
focus on sustainable energy sources, which have driven up demand for
skilled workers. Online job availability in the professional,
scientific and technical services sector also rose, adding three points
and extending a three-month growth trend.
In contrast, online recruitment activity in the wholesale trade sector
plunged 13 points, registering the sharpest decline among industries,
while demand in transportation and warehousing fell 10 points,
following a sharp rise the previous month. At the same time, online
demand in the retail trade industry edged one point higher, extending a
three-month upward trend in a likely build-up ahead of the
end-of-the-year shopping season. Meanwhile, online opportunities in
real estate, rental and leasing edged down one point last month and
have declined over the year as the cooling housing market appears to
have gradually reduced overall staffing needs in the sector.
- Military Specific; IT; Arts,
Design, Entertainment, Sports and Media Occupations Maintain Steady
Growth Pace in October
Twelve of the 23 occupational categories tracked by the Index showed a
rise in online job availability in October, with military specific
occupations jumping 21 points and registering the strongest monthly
rate of increase. Last month’s rise was mostly due to heightened demand
in the armed services and the aerospace industry, which has recently
benefited from a significant surge in bookings for commercial aircraft.
Online job availability for computer and mathematical occupations
jumped seven points, extending a three-month growth trend amid
continued strong demand for IT professionals across the country.
Meanwhile, the Index for arts, design, entertainment, sports and media
occupations rose six points, and community and social services surged
13 points, continuing a three-month upward trend. Sales related
opportunities also edged up, suggesting that retailers may have begun
seeking temporary workers to assist with the approaching holiday
Among the Index categories showing lower online job demand in October,
building, grounds cleaning and maintenance, and legal registered the
sharpest decline, as both shed 10 points. The education, training and
library category also declined, falling seven points and easing back
from heightened demand leading up to the start of the school year.
Online recruitment activity increased in the West South Central region
(up four points,) which continued to show the strongest year-over-year
growth rate due in part to ongoing reconstruction efforts in Louisiana.
The East South Central region registered the sharpest decline, falling
nine points amid reduced online job availability in Alabama and
Mississippi. Alabama’s manufacturing industries have reportedly been
suffering a downturn, while Mississippi continues to struggle with the
nation’s highest unemployment rate and a coastal economy that has yet
to recover from the devastation caused by hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Overall, 24 states saw online job availability climb by varying degrees
Spherion's specific findings from its macroeconomic confidence index
found that 27 percent of adult workers believed more jobs were
available and 24 percent of adult workers believed the economy is
The survey's personal confidence index decreased however to 74.2 in
October, a 1.2-point drop from September, as fewer workers were
confident in their ability to find a new job. The Index was two points
higher than the level recorded in October 2005.
Specific findings from the Personal Confidence Index reported that 64
percent of adult workers felt confident in the future of their employer
and 59 percent of adult workers have confidence in their own ability to
find a new job, down 2 percent from September.
Some 80 percent of the workforce surveyed told Spherion that it was
unlikely a job loss would affect them during the upcoming 12 months, or
a 3 percent increase in confidence from October 2005.
Results of the Spherion study were based upon data from the Harris
Interactive QuickQuery online sample of 3,112 employed adults.
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