Job Growth May Be Stagnant, But July HR Job Postings Rise

A declining Employment Trends Index is signaling job growth stagnation lasting through the end of the year, says The Conference Board. The Index, released today, was down in July, its third drop in four months.

The 100.6 the Index registered in July is off from June’s revised 100.9, so the drop isn’t substantial. It’s also up 4 percent over July of 2010. However, says  Conference Board economist and associate director of research, Gad Levanon:

The Employment Trends Index declined in three of the past four months, and is signaling employment growth of less than 100,000 per month through the end of 2011. Despite weak employment growth in recent months, GDP has been growing even slower in the first half of 2011. There is simply not enough growth in production to warrant stronger hiring.

While there’s been plenty of bad economic news in the last two weeks to support his conclusion, there a few glimmers to suggest job growth might be just a bit better.

Both of the leading job aggregators report that listings in July were up over the previous month. SimplyHired says job postings increased by 6.5 percent over June, and 17 percent over July of last year. Indeed doesn’t offer an overall percentage, but its trends report shows 12 of the 13 industries it tracks had more jobs in July than in June. All were ahead of July 2010 by double-digits.

Human resources, a category we’re particularly partial to, had 4 percent more advertised jobs in July than in June. For the year, HR job postings rose by 34 percent. The actual numbers are low — Indeed counted 68,894 jobs online — but the upward trend is meaningful for more reasons than just our audience. Filling HR jobs is not a company’s first priority when it decides to resume hiring. So I read the upward trend as evidence that companies have loosened up hiring.

Recruiting jobs in particular seem to be improving. Right now, Indeed lists almost 150,000 recruiting and recruiting-related jobs. (The numbers are different from the overall HR jobs counted by Indeed because some persist online for weeks, and also because I’m doing a keyword search on the title, which will produce results that may not all be in HR.)

By far, the most numerous jobs were in healthcare, which was up 8 percent over June.

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Looking ahead, a CareerBuilder survey says small businesses expect they will hire more employees through the end of the year than they did last year. The improvement in outlook is not great, but it is there; up six percent over last year.

Says Careerbuilder:

  • Companies with 50 or fewer employees – 20 percent hiring full-time, permanent employees, up from 14 percent last year.
  • 500 or fewer employees – 27 percent hiring full-time, permanent employees, up from 21 percent last year.
  • More than 500 employees – 46 percent hiring full-time, permanent employees, up from 38 percent last year.

Part time hiring will be about the same as last year, according to the CareerBuilder survey:

  • 50 or fewer employees – 6 percent hiring contract or temporary employees, up from 4 percent last year.
  • 500 or fewer employees – 8 percent hiring contract or temporary employees, up from 6 percent last year.
  • More than 500 employees – 16 percent hiring contract or temporary employees, up from 13 percent last year.