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CEO confidence rebounds, half expect increase in hiring

Friday, April 6th, 2012

The Conference BoardThe Conference Board Measure of CEO Confidence™, which had improved in the fourth quarter, increased further in the first quarter of 2012. The Measure now reads 63, up from 49 last quarter (a reading of more than 50 points reflects more positive than negative responses).

We’re seeing reports that continue to show an improving economy and business optimism in firms large and small almost daily here at the TechJournal. As we’ve noted before, optimism itself has positive effects on the economy, often leading to increased spending by consumers and businesses and to increased hiring.

While a steady, if moderate improvement is fine, barring setbacks, these things can hit a tipping point that revs up the economy at a faster pace. Despite a sharp slowdown in hiring this month – no one seems ready to leap ahead of the economy on the hiring front – we suspect that’s just a glitch.

Lynn Franco, Director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center said:

“CEOs’ confidence has rebounded from rather dismal readings in the latter half of 2011. Looking ahead, chief executives are optimistic about growth prospects, with about the same percentage as last year expecting to hire new workers.” 

CEOs’ appraisal of current economic conditions has grown very positive. Now, 67 percent say conditions have improved compared to six months ago, up from just 17 percent last quarter. A similar improvement is reflected in the assessment of their own industries. Forty-two percent of business leaders claim conditions have improved, compared with only 16 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011.

CEOs’ optimism about the short-term outlook also improved significantly. Currently, about 59 percent of business leaders foresee an improvement in economic conditions over the next six months, up from 32 percent in the fourth quarter. Expectations for their own industries are also more upbeat, with 44 percent of CEOs expecting conditions to improve in the months ahead, up from approximately 25 percent last quarter.

Hiring Plans to Pick Up in 2012
Half of all CEOs anticipate an increase in employment levels in their industry, about the same as a year ago. The proportion of CEOs who anticipate a decrease in hiring declined slightly to 15 percent from 16 percent a year ago.

On a separate question, chief executives say that regulation and litigation are major obstacles to hiring new workers, followed by health care costs. Wage and salary costs, as well as other fringe benefits, are of lesser concern when hiring new workers.

Nothing herein shall restrict the use of the information by news journalists
using the information in a legitimate news publication or periodical
2009 2010 2011 2012
Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1
MEASURE OF CEO CONFIDENCE  30 55 63 64 62 62 50 62 67 55 42 49 63
1. Current Economic Conditions vs. 6 Months Ago 5 47 65 69 67 67 50 62 72 51 32 45 66
2. Expectations for Economy, 6 Months Ahead 40 61 63 64 62 59 49 62 68 57 45 51 63
3. Expectations for Own Industry, 6 Months Ahead 44 57 61 60 58 58 51 61 62 57 48 50 60
    Current Conditions in Own Industry vs. 6 Months Ago 14 43 59 62 63 63 52 60 65 55 38 41 57
Copyright © 2012 by The Conference Board, Inc. All rights reserved.

Survey results were fielded from mid-February to mid-March
Source: CEO Confidence 1st Quarter 2012
The Conference Board

Employee confidence in company outlook, pay raises, hits 4-year high

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

GlassdoorAs the unemployment rate continues to decline, holding a three-year low of 8.3 percent in February, employee optimism for pay raises and company outlook are on the upswing, reaching new highs in the first quarter of 2012, according to the Glassdoor quarterly Employment Confidence Survey1 of 2,013 U.S. adults aged 18+ conducted online on its behalf by Ipsos Media.

For the first time since Glassdoor began monitoring employment confidence in 2008, more employees expect a pay increase (43 percent) in the next 12 months than those who do not (38 percent). Additionally, nearly half (46 percent) of employees expect their company outlook to improve in the next six months, climbing six points from the fourth quarter.

Glassdoor Employment Confidence Survey

Meanwhile, unemployed job seekers are feeling better about the state of the job market as more than one-third (36 percent) of those unemployed but looking report it is “likely” they will find a job matched to their experience and compensation levels within six months.

Job security, market prospect remain tempered

Interestingly, employee sentiment about job security and job market prospects remains tempered. In the first quarter, more employees believe it is unlikely they could find a job matched to their experience level within six months, up six points from the fourth quarter to 30 percent. In addition, employees reveal that concerns about layoffs have not subsided, as one-third (33 percent) say they are concerned co-workers could be laid off in the next six months.

This really shouldn’t be so surprising, considering that the economy is only gradually coming out of a long, particularly nasty recession in which the employment market shrank so dramatically. We’re seeing report after report of increasing optimism among consumers and corporations large & small, but almost everyone remains a bit on edge, since previous advances were met with retreats.

“Even though consumer confidence is up and the unemployment rate is down, employees remain tentative about the market. On one hand, positive economic and company indicators are driving increased optimism around pay raises and company outlook, but that optimism hasn’t yet spilled over into individual job security or view of the job market,” said Rusty Rueff,Glassdoor career and workplace expert, who ran global HR departments at Electronic Arts and PepsiCo before co-authoring Talent Force: A New Manifesto for the Human Side of Business. “Employers should pay attention to employee expectations around pay and be more transparent to ensure employee sentiment is aligned with reality, which will help avoid disappointment that can impact morale.”

The quarterly Glassdoor Employment Confidence Survey highlights four key indicators of employee confidence in the areas of job market prospects/re-hire probability, company outlook, pay raises and job security. Highlights from the first quarter 2012 survey are summarized below:

Pay Raises: Confidence in Salary Reaches All Time High; Men Continue To Be More Optimistic Than Women

  • For the first time in the past four years, more employees expect a pay raise than those who do not — 43 percent of employees expect a pay raise in the next 12 months, while 38 percent of employees do not, and 19 percent don’t know.
  • More men expect a pay raise than women — 45 percent of men noted they expect an increase in the next 12 months vs. 40 percent of women.
  • Younger workers are more optimistic about salary increases — nearly half (49 percent) of 18-34 year olds indicate they expect to receive a pay raise, compared to 34 percent of those ages 55+.

Company Outlook: Employee Optimism At Highest Level Since 2008

  • In the first quarter, nearly half (46 percent) of employees believe their company outlook will be better in the next six months, up six points from the prior quarter, reaching the highest level since 2008 when Glassdoor initiated this survey. Almost one in 10 (nine percent) expect their company’s outlook to worsen, while 44 percent expect their company’s outlook to remain the same.
  • Nearly half of men (48 percent) expect their company’s outlook to improve in the next six months compared to 45 percent of women. And, younger workers 18-34 tend to be more optimistic (53 percent) about their company prospects than older workers 55+ (42 percent).

Job Security: Layoff Concerns Edge Up for Self and Co-workers

  • Nearly one in five employees (19 percent) are concerned they could be laid off in the next six months, up two points from the fourth quarter after declining the preceding two quarters.
  • One-third of employees (33 percent) are concerned co-workers could be laid off in the next six months. Concerns of co-worker layoffs were highest among employees in the West (39 percent) compared to those in the South (29 percent), Midwest (31 percent) and Northeast (36 percent).

Job Market: Optimism Up for Unemployed Job Seekers, Falls for Employed

  • Optimism is rising among unemployed job seekers as more than one-third (36 percent) say they believe it is likely they will find a job in six months, up six points from the fourth quarter to the highest level since this survey began in 2008.
  • Employees are not as optimistic about their prospects should they lose their jobs, however. In fact, those who think it is “likely” they could find a job matched to their experience level dropped four points from the fourth quarter to 37 percent, while 30 percent think it is unlikely and 32 percent are uncertain.

For more details and methodology of the survey, please see the full Q1 2012 Glassdoor Confidence Survey Summary and Methodology, http://www.glassdoor.com/press/surveys.

Sharp rise in labor demand seen in monthly online advertised vacancies

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

The Conference BoardOnline advertised vacancies rose 246,300 in March to 4,669,600, according toThe Conference Board Help Wanted OnLine (HWOL) Data Series.  The March rise is the fourth consecutive monthly rise.  The Supply/Demand rate stands at 2.9 unemployed for every vacancy; however, nationally there are still 8.4 million more unemployed than advertised vacancies.

“The March sharp rise in labor demand continued to narrow the gap between the unemployed and available job opportunities,” said June Shelp, Vice President at The Conference Board.

Nationally advertised vacancies are 60 percent above their levels inJune 2009, the official end of the great recession.  However, that increase has varied greatly among the States with some Midwestern States exceeding the national average, including Minnesota (+ 121%); Ohio (+ 102%); Wisconsin (+ 95%); Indiana(+ 92%); and Michigan (+86%).  Some states where the housing market tank — including Nevada (+ 21%) and New Mexico (+ 24%) — remain well below the national average while other States like Florida (+50%), where the housing market was also an issue, showed more resiliency.

REGIONAL AND STATE HIGHLIGHTS

  • In March all of the largest States except Pennsylvania post gains
  • 12 of the 20 largest States are on an upward trend in job demand

In March the South gained 74,700 advertised vacancies, with gains in all six of its largest States.  Texas was up 19,000, reflecting increases of 11%+ over the last four months for labor demand in the metro areas of Austin, Dallas, and Houston.

Virginia gained 9,200 for a combined three-month gain of 14,300.  North Carolina rose 6,700 bringing its two-month increase to 8,500.  Maryland gained 5,800 for a combined two-month gain of 9,600.  Georgia was up 4,800 in March.  Florida rose 2,400.  Among the less populous States in the South, Tennessee rose 7,800, South Carolina increased by 1,600, Louisiana gained 1,200, and Arkansas gained 900.

The West gained 61,700 advertised vacancies, reflecting gains in all four of its largest States.  California had by far the largest increase, 23,300.  Over the past four months, labor demand in California was up 80,200 with gains in all of its larger metro areas, led by notable increases of 21.7 percent in San Diego and 20.6 percent in Sacramento.  Washington State gained 9,600.  Colorado rose 4,400 while Arizona gained a mere 500.  Among the less populous States in the region, Oregon rose 4,300; Nevada gained 2,600; and Utah rose 1,500.

The Midwest region gained 48,800 vacancies in March.  Ohio experienced the largest gain — 8,700 — and, at 181,900 advertised vacancies, reached its highest level since the HWOL series began in May 2005.  Minnesota rose 6,700. Missourirose 5,600 for a combined two-month gain of 8,200. Michigan gained 5,200 for a two-month gain of 6,500.  Wisconsin rose 4,700.  Illinois gained 1,600.  Among the less populous States in the Midwest, Indiana gained 5,100, Kansas rose 1,800, South Dakota gained 1,300, and North Dakota rose 600.

Labor demand in March in the Northeast  rose 23,100, which included a rise of 9,300 in New York.  New York is up 17,700 over the last four months with the New York metro area up 14.8 percent and Rochester up 12.2 percent.  New Jersey rose 7,100 while Massachusetts gained 4,900 for a combined four-month gain of 11,500.  Pennsylvania was down 1,700 in March.  Among the smaller States in the Northeast, the number of advertised vacancies in Connecticut fell by 300.  Maine rose 1,000 in March while New Hampshire gained 1,400 and Rhode Island gained 300.

The Supply/Demand rate for the U.S. in February (the latest month for which the national unemployment number is available) stood at 2.90, indicating that there are just under 3 unemployed workers for every online advertised vacancy.  Nationally, there are 8.4 million more unemployed workers than advertised vacancies.

The Supply/Demand rates for the states are for February 2012, the latest month available for unemployment data.  The number of advertised vacancies exceeded the number of unemployed only in North Dakota, where the Supply/Demand rate was 0.88.  States with the next lowest rates included South Dakota (1.23), Nebraska (1.28), Vermont (1.41), Alaska (1.56), Minnesota(1.60), and New Hampshire (1.68).  The State with the highest Supply/Demand rate is Mississippi (5.97), where there are nearly 6 unemployed workers for every online advertised vacancy.  Other States where there were more than 4 unemployed workers for every advertised vacancy included Nevada (4.42) and Kentucky (4.13).

It should be noted that the Supply/Demand rate only provides a measure of relative tightness of the individual State labor markets and does not suggest that the occupations of the unemployed directly align with the occupations of the advertised vacancies.

METRO AREA HIGHLIGHTS

  • 19 of the 20 largest metro areas posted gains in labor demand in March
  • San Francisco up 7 percent in March.

In March, 19 of the 20 large MSAs posted increases in the number of online advertised vacancies.  Overall 47 of the 52 metropolitan areas for which data are reported separately also showed increases in March.

A number of the largest metro areas have shown real strength since the official end of the recession in June 2009.  Four have posted increases of over 100 percent since then: Cleveland, up 142%; Minneapolis-St. Paul, up 124%; Detroit, up 116%; andSan Jose, up 112%.

Six MSAs had Supply/Demand rates in January 2012 (the latest available data for unemployment) below 2, indicating there fewer than two unemployed for every advertised vacancy.  Washington, DC continues to have the most favorable Supply/Demand rate (1.21) with about one advertised vacancy for every unemployed worker.  Minneapolis-St. Paul (1.36),Boston (1.54), Oklahoma City (1.63), and Salt Lake City (1.67) were metropolitan locations with the next lowest Supply/Demand rates.

Metro areas where the number of unemployed is substantially above the number of online advertised vacancies includeRiverside, CA — with over 8 unemployed workers for every advertised vacancy (8.23) — Sacramento (4.56), Miami (4.53), Las Vegas (4.47), Los Angeles (4.19), and Memphis (4.04).  Supply/Demand rate data are for January 2012, the latest month for which unemployment data for local areas are available.

OCCUPATIONAL HIGHLIGHTS

  • Supply/Demand rates range widely for the 22 major occupational categories
  • Labor demand for retail sales help rises in March
  • Demand for Healthcare practitioners dipped in March but job opportunities continue to outnumber unemployed looking for jobs 

Changes for the Month of March

In March, nineteen of the 22 Standard Occupational Classifications (SOC codes) that are reported separately posted gains and three declined.

Among the top 10 occupation groups with the largest numbers of online advertised vacancies, demand for Sales and Relatedworkers rose 35,900 to 596,500 and was led by an increase in demand for Retail Salespeople and First-Line Supervisors/Managers of Retail Sales Workers.  The number of unemployed in this occupational category continues to outnumber the number of advertised vacancies by over 2 to 1 (S/D of 2.30) but is substantially below the slightly over four unemployed for every available advertised vacancy in April and May 2009.

Labor demand for Computer and Mathematical Science workers rose 25,800 to 620,700.  Over the past four months, labor demand has increased by 77,100.  The higher demand included increases for Computer Systems Analysts and Applications Computer Software Engineers.  The number of advertised vacancies in this occupational category continues to outnumber job-seekers by over 3 to 1 (0.28 S/D based on February data, the latest unemployment data available).

Demand for Management occupations rose 25,700 to 461,200 for a combined four-month increase of 56,600.  Responsible for the rise was higher demand for Marketing Managers and General and Operations Managers.  The number of unemployed in these occupations was just over one (1.39) unemployed for every advertised vacancy in March and significantly below the almost three (2.9) unemployed for every advertised vacancy at the HWOL series high in October 2009.

Labor demand for Office and Administrative Support occupations rose 22,700 to 476,900 for a gain of 50,100 since January, but the March level is still slightly below the level of demand in late 2011.  Largely responsible for the March increase was higher demand for Customer Service Representatives and Executive Secretaries and Administrative Assistants.  The number of unemployed in these occupations remains above the number of advertised vacancies with close to 3.6 unemployed for every advertised vacancy.

Business and Financial Operations positions increased by 17,100 to 268,100 advertised vacancies in March.  Accountants, Training and Development Specialists, and Financial Analysts were among the advertised vacancies that showed increases.  In this field there are 1.56 unemployed workers for every advertised vacancy.

Healthcare Practitioners and Technical occupations fell 18,800 in March to 578,100.  Largely responsible for the drop were decreased advertised vacancies for Registered Nurses, Occupational Therapists, Speech Pathologists, and Physical Therapists. The number of advertised vacancies in this occupational category continues to be quite favorable and outnumbers job-seekers by 2.4 to 1 (0.41 S/D).

U.S. employee confidence level hits 4-year high

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

RandstadReaching its highest level since October 2007, U.S. employees painted an overall rosy picture in regards to the economy, job market, and their personal employment situation in March 2012.  According to the latest Randstad Employment Report, overall U.S. worker confidence reached 55.5 in March versus 53.9 in February. This also marks the third month of consecutive increases.

“Despite gas prices being one of the biggest concerns on the minds of workers, we remain pleasantly surprised with the steady increases seen in overall worker confidence,” said Joanie Ruge, senior vice president & chief employment analyst for Randstad US Holding.

One of the reasons we report these stories is that confidence levels among executives, employers, workers and consumers has a profound affect on the American economy. The continually rising levels of optimism among all those groups usually fuels consumer and business spending, hiring to meet growth needs, and a better economy all around. (See: U.S. Economy Enters a Sweet Spot)

“It seems as though optimism in the employment picture is outweighing any mixed signals being given by other economic reports. In fact, the Index confirms, from a frontline perspective, an optimistic and hopeful outlook around the number job openings, job stability and the future strength of companies. Although the latest Index still remains five points below the historical high, it also stands 15.4 points higher than our Index’s all-time low of 40.1 in January 2007. We remain hopeful that this trend will continue.”

The online survey was conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of Randstad. It surveyed 1,399 employed U.S. adults, aged 18 and over between March 13-15, 2012.

A Look Inside the Report:

Employee Confidence Index Hits Highest Level Since October 2007:

  • The Employee Confidence Index reached its highest level in four years, registering at 55.5 in March, signifying a hopeful and positive outlook from Americans on the economy, job market and the future of their current employers

Economic Confidence Rises for Seventh Consecutive Month; Highest Number of Consecutive Increases on Record:

  • More than a third (32 percent) of employees feel the economy is getting stronger
  • Twenty-two percent of U.S. workers believe more jobs are available versus 19 percent in February

Workers Confident Around New Job Prospects:

  • Almost half of U.S. workers (45 percent) feel confident in their ability to find a new job — indicating a more optimistic outlook in career opportunities

A Majority of Workers Feel Their Positions Are Stable:

  • Seventy-three percent of workers believe it is unlikely they will lose their jobs in the next 12 months, suggesting that employees are increasingly confident in their company’s financial situation, and unconcerned around their individual expendability

Employees Look to Future Career Prospects:

  • While over half  (55 percent) of U.S. workers are not likely to leave their current positions, 34 percent are likely to look for a new job – indicating a possible readiness to seek out other potential career paths

The Randstad U.S. Employee Confidence Index measures workforce trends across the country since 2004.

Small business employment growth hits two-year high

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

IntuitSmall businesses employment increased by 0.3 percent in March, the highest single-month growth rate in more than two years. This growth was accompanied by encouraging increases in monthly compensation and in the number of hours worked.

These are among the results for the Intuit Inc. (Nasdaq:INTU) Small Business Employment Index for March, covering the period between Feb. 24 and March 23.

Based on the March increase, the latest report estimates that small business employment grew at an annual growth rate of 3.8 percent. Average monthly hours worked increased by 0.5 percent, or 36 minutes. Average monthly compensation increased by 0.7 percent, or $18 per worker.

This is just the latest in a string of good news reports on the economy we’ve reported this year. While most of these reports note that we’ve got a ways to go, they also show continuing progress. Rising gas prices remain a concern, but many analysts feel that barring new Middle East shocks, the price of oil will stabilize and gas prices may fall somewhat.

But these steady – if gradual – improvements in the employment picture are probably key if the recovery is to gain force and speed over time.

The employment growth for March equates to approximately 65,000 new jobs in March, though Intuit plans to recalibrate its Employment Index in the coming months and expects these numbers to be lower. This is a common statistical practice and the recalibration will be based on new data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which are used as inputs into the Index.

The Index is based on figures from small businesses with fewer than 20 employees that use Intuit Online Payroll. More information on the Index is available at index.intuit.com.

“This is the strongest small business employment report we have had in a long time,” said Susan Woodward, the economist who worked with Intuit to create the Index.

“Yet at the same time, the hiring rate has remained flat at just above five percent since May 2009. This indicates that small firm employees are staying with their current employers, rather than leaving for bigger firms. In normal times, the turnover at small firms, which typically pay less than their larger counterparts, is high. Currently, the turnover rate is still low compared to normal.

“However, we are not out of the woods yet. While the various indicators of this market are the strongest we’ve seen in a while, the rate of increase will not get us back to full employment anytime soon.”

Based on February’s numbers and revised national employment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Intuit revised upward the previously reported February growth rate to 0.4 percent. This equates to 75,000 jobs added in February, up from a previously reported 55,000 jobs, though these numbers are expected to be lower once the Index is recalibrated.

Strong Increase in Hours Worked, Compensation

Small business hourly employees worked an average of 111.9 hours in March, an increase of 0.5 percent from the revised figure of 111.3 hours in February, making for a 25.8-hour workweek. Average monthly pay for all small business employees increased to $2,785 in March, an increase of 0.7 percent from the February revised figure of $2,767 per month. The equivalent annual wages would be about $33,400 per year, which is part-time work for many small business employees.

Small Business Employment by Geography

The Intuit Index shows overall employment growth in all census divisions for March, while a state breakdown shows slight decreases in three states.

“The decreases in the employment growth rates for Oregon, Pennsylvania and Illinois are so statistically close to zero they are not cause for concern,” said Woodward. “By contrast, things are beginning to look encouraging for New York, which is showing a positive change in small business employment growth after several months of decreases. The state may be doing better because a meltdown in Europe now looks less likely.”

U.S. Census Division Percent Change in Employment
East North Central 0.10%
West North Central 0.15%
Middle Atlantic 0.2%
Mountain 0.6%
New England 0.3%
Pacific 0.4%
South Atlantic 0.3%
East South Central 0.5%
West South Central 0.5%

Small Business Employment by U.S. Census Division continues to grow in all parts of the country. The data reflects employment from over 77,000 small business employers who use Intuit Online Payroll. The month-to-month changes are seasonally-adjusted and informative about the overall economy.

State Percent Change in Employment
Arizona 1.2%
California 0.5%
Florida 0.5%
Georgia 0.4%
Illinois -0.08%
Maryland 0.05%
Massachusetts 0.5%
New Jersey 0.3%
New York 0.3%
North Carolina 0.5%
Oregon -0.2%
Pennsylvania -0.2%
Texas 0.5%
Virginia 0.9%
Washington 0.7%

Small Business Employment by State is up for most states in which Intuit Online Payroll has more than 1,000 small business firms represented. The month-to-month changes are seasonally adjusted and informative about the overall economy.

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