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Survey: Quarterly hiring outlook strong

Nearly three-in-ten employers (28%) reported they hired full-time, permanent employees in the first quarter of 2011, the highest since the first quarter of 2008, according to CareerBuilder and USA TODAY’s latest job forecast.  The momentum is expected to continue with the same amount of employers planning to add full-time, permanent positions in the second quarter.

The survey, which was conducted by Harris Interactive from February 21 to March 10, 2011, included more than 2,800 hiring managers and human resource professionals and more than 5,600 workers across industries and company sizes.

“While employers are keeping a close eye on world events, their confidence levels in regard to recruitment have remained intact,” said Matt Ferguson, CEO of CareerBuilder.  “Job listings on CareerBuilder are up across all categories, from healthcare and technology to manufacturing.  Our latest survey points to continued, measured gains over the next three months.  As the nation moves toward greater financial stability, more employers are investing in talent for the long-term.”

Hiring in Q1 2011

In the last survey completed in December 2010, 23% of employers expected to hire full-time, permanent employees in the first quarter of 2011.  The number of employers who actually added headcount in the first quarter was 28%, signifying seven consecutive quarters where actual hiring exceeded projections.  This is also a jump from last year, when 23% of employers reported they had added full-time, permanent headcount in the first quarter of 2010.

Ten percent decreased headcount in the first quarter 2011, an improvement from 12% last year.  Sixty-two percent said there was no change in their number of full-time, permanent employees while 1% were undecided.

Hiring in Q2 2011

Twenty-eight percent of employers plan to increase their full-time, permanent headcount in the second quarter, but if current survey trends persist, that number may ultimately come in higher at quarter end.  Six percent expect to downsize staffs.  Sixty-three percent anticipate no change while 4% are undecided.

Looking at actual hiring for the second quarter in 2010, 24% of employers reported they had hired full-time, permanent staff while 11% decreased headcount.

Competition for Highly Skilled Talent Increases

With more job openings comes more competition for highly skilled workers.  One-third (33%) of employers are concerned that top performers will look for employment opportunities outside of their organization as the economy improves.  Fourteen percent reported that top talent already left their organization in the first quarter of this year.

Workers in general reported more optimism about the job market, according to the survey.  Thirty-one percent of workers said they are likely to start looking for another job as the economy improves.

Temporary Hiring

Employers continue to leverage temporary staff to help meet increased business demands.  Twenty-nine percent of employers reported they hired contract or temporary workers in the first quarter.  Twenty-six percent plan to do so in the second quarter.  Seventeen percent said they are planning to transition some contract or temporary staff into permanent employees in the second quarter.

Hiring By Region

Hiring is expected to pick up more in the West in the second quarter.  One-third (33%) of hiring managers in the West expect to increase full-time, permanent headcount compared to 28% in the Northeast, 27% in the Midwest and 24% in the South.

Although employers in the South are less likely to add full-time, permanent employees than other regions in the second quarter, they are also less likely to downsize.  Four percent of employers in the South expect to decrease staff levels compared to 6% in the Northeast, West and Midwest.

Hiring By Company Size

Hiring among small businesses — the major driver behind new job creation in the U.S. — is showing signs of improvement.  Twenty-three percent of companies with 500 or less employees plan to recruit full-time, permanent employees in the second quarter, up from 19% last quarter.  Seventeen percent of companies with 50 or less employees expect to add new employees, up from 14% last quarter.

Hiring in larger organizations is also trending positive.  Thirty-six percent of companies with more than 500 employees plan to add full-time, permanent staff in the second quarter, up from 30% last quarter.

The survey also indicates fewer employers are planning to reduce staff levels.  Five percent of companies with 500 or less employees plan to decrease full-time, permanent staff, down from 7% last quarter.  Among employers with 50 or less employees, 4% expect to decrease staffs, down from 6% last quarter.  Seven percent of those with more than 500 employees plan to downsize, an improvement from 9% last quarter.

Compensation

Thirty-nine percent of employers anticipate no change in salary levels in the second quarter compared to the same period last year.  Thirty-eight percent expect there will be an increase of 3% or less.  Fifteen percent expect their average changes will be between 4 and 10% and 2% predict an increase of 11% or more.  Three percent anticipate a decrease in salaries.


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