Little Overall Improvement in Hiring, But Threat of Job Loss Low

Bloomberg BNA Quarterly Survey of Employers Shows Holding Pattern in Employment Outlook

ARLINGTON, Va., March 7, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- With sequestration looming after Congress and the president stepped back from the fiscal cliff, job prospects remain in a holding pattern, according to 265 employers responding to Bloomberg BNA's latest survey on the employment outlook. Office/clerical candidates could see some improvement in job opportunities during the second quarter, but prospects for most other nonmanagement employees appear unlikely to break free of the sluggishness observed over the past two years. For the currently employed, the threat of job loss remains fairly low, with little appreciable change in reports of layoffs or imminent reductions in force.


Hiring Projections

Production/service job opportunities continue to fall short of levels observed in most of 2011 and 2012. One-fifth of the surveyed establishments expect expansion in their production/service workforces during the second quarter, up modestly from last quarter (18 percent).

Technical and professional employees continue to enjoy better overall hiring prospects than their production, service, and clerical counterparts. However, reports of technical/professional expansion plans have shown no substantive improvement during the past two years. Twenty-nine percent of responding establishments expect to hire new technical/professional employees in the second quarter of 2013, down two points from projections for the first quarter.

Office and clerical employees could have a slightly easier time finding a job in April, May, and June. Nineteen percent of surveyed employers anticipate second-quarter growth in their office/clerical workforces, up from 14 percent last quarter and the best prospects for office/clerical hiring since the fourth quarter of 2011.

Job Cuts, Employees on Layoff

Relatively few responding employers expect workforce cutbacks in the second quarter, extending a trend observed since early 2011.  Nine percent anticipate reductions in production/service employment levels during April, May, and June, unchanged from three months ago.

One in 10 establishments expects office/clerical workforce cutbacks next quarter, up just slightly from three months ago (9 percent). Second-quarter cutbacks to technical or professional staff are expected by only 7 percent of employers, only a slight change from projections for the first quarter of 2013.

Layoff incidence continues to suggest relatively low risk of job loss or furloughs. Although hiring prospects for clerical workers have tended to fall short of opportunities for other employees, reports of workers on layoff during January and February were lowest for office/clerical employees. Just 5 percent of responding employers had office/clerical employees on inactive status during the first two months of 2013, two points lower than in the previous quarter.

Only 7 percent of firms reported any technical or professional employees on layoff in early 2013, up one point from October and November of 2012. Production or service workers were on layoff at 10 percent of surveyed workplaces, up minimally from three months earlier (9 percent).

Job Vacancies

Technical and professional job vacancies continue to pose a considerable challenge for employers; reports of hard-to-fill technical/professional positions have exceeded 40 percent for 10 consecutive quarters.  Forty-five percent of responding organizations reported problems finding qualified technicians and professionals in early 2013, up four points from reports for the fourth quarter. Fifty-eight percent of large employers (1,000 or more workers) indicated difficulty filling professional or technical vacancies, compared with 41 percent of smaller establishments. Far fewer establishments (15 percent) reported trouble finding qualified production/service candidates. Just 7 percent struggled to fill any office/clerical positions.

About the Survey:

This survey is conducted quarterly among a panel of human resource executives representing organizations throughout the United States. Of the 265 employers responding in time for tabulation of this survey, 43 percent have fewer than 250 workers, 19 percent have workforces of 250 to 499 employees, 13 percent employ 500 to 999 workers, 11 percent have workforces of 1,000 to 2,499 employees, and 14 percent employ at least 2,500 workers. By industry, 19 percent of the organizations are manufacturing companies, 52 percent are nonmanufacturing firms, and 29 percent are nonbusiness establishments. By region, 19 percent of the employers are located in the Northeast, 32 percent are in the South, 31 percent operate in the North Central states, and 18 percent are located in the West. Total employment of the reporting organizations is 277,546.

Bloomberg BNA, a wholly owned subsidiary of Bloomberg, is a leading source of legal, regulatory, and business information for professionals. Its network of more than 2,500 reporters, correspondents, and leading practitioners delivers expert analysis, news, practice tools, and guidance — the information that matters most to professionals.  Bloomberg BNA's authoritative coverage spans the full range of legal practice areas, including tax & accounting, labor & employment, intellectual property, banking & securities, employee benefits, health care, privacy & data security, human resources, and environment, health & safety.

SOURCE Bloomberg BNA


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