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Reports Evidence Job Growth About to Begin

“Job growth is about to begin,” The Conference Board declared Monday. In the second quarter, says Manpower. “We are already seeing evidence,” insists the Association of Executive Search Consultants.

Even coming upon the heels of a robust labor report last week (that fueled a Wall Street mini-rally) these pronouncements probably won’t do much for the pessimists, but for recruiters, consider the collective news a call to reveille.

The Manpower report in particular says the second quarter should see a “modest” increase in hiring, based on the company’s survey of 18,000 employers in the U.S. While 73 percent expect to keep staffing level, 16 percent expect to hire. Only 8 percent expect to cut. (The remaining 3 percent fall into the “don’t know” category.)

“We continue to see encouraging signs in hiring activity in the U.S.,” says Manpower Inc. Chairman and CEO Jeff Joerres.

If you read down in the release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, you would have seen that temp jobs took a big jump in February. It’s a good sign. Employers may not be ready to commit, but at least they’re dating.

The leaders of two of the biggest staffing firms in the U.S., Tig Gilliam of Adecco, and Roy Krause, CEO of SFN Group (previously Spherion), expect to see 100,000 temp hires per month before much longer. Gilliam also says Adecco has seen a 50 percent increase in the number of its temps hired on full time.

Like the staffing industry, executive recruiters have seen improvement, though it has been more noticeable outside the U.S. As a whole, the industry took a 32.5 percent year-over-year revenue hit in 2009. But the 4th quarter brought revenue improvement and an increase in search activity.

Globally, Asia/Pacific, Central/South America, and Europe saw increases in executive search activity in the 4th quarter of 2009 versus the same quarter in 2008. Though the quarter was down over the 4th quarter of 2008 by .5 percent in North America (the U.S., represents the biggest share) there were 11.4 percent more searches started than in the third quarter of 2009.

Add these reports to the other reports and data coming in and there’s little doubt that the world economy is improving, with the U.S. trailing, but moving forward nonetheless.

That this is no gangbuster recovery in the U.S. is evident from all the cautious comments and qualified statements. ERE member Keith Halperin has amassed a slew of estimates from well-respected sources suggesting it could take years before the 8.4 million plus unemployed are back to work. Scroll down to the comments to see his data points.

The Conference Board’s various surveys shows that confidence in the recovery is shaky and uncertain, even as its Employment Trends Index rises. Consumer confidence dropped big in February, mostly because of fears about job growth. Meanwhile Monday’s Employment Trends Index posted a sixth monthly gain, and the biggest overall percentage gain for a six month period since 1994.

The February rise to 93.5 from January’s 93.2, modest though it may seem, was enough to lead Gad Levanon, associate director, Macroeconomic Research at The Conference Board, to say, “The continued rise in the ETI suggests that job growth is about to begin.”

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