February 2010: Hope on the Horizon? Hiring Improves Significantly

February 2010: Hope on the Horizon? Hiring Improves Significantly

CareerCast.com/JobSerf Employment Index

February's strong performance may finally be the positive sign so many job seekers have been looking for.

Job seekers waiting for signs of an employment recovery may finally be able to breathe a sigh of relief. After a disappointing opening to 2010, hiring activity in February improved dramatically across the U.S., as the overall volume of managerial positions grew by nearly 18%.

All U.S. regions saw increased job availability last month, as did most major cities, including some that struggled dramatically in 2009. February's CareerCast.com/JobSerf Employment Index score of 83.3 is not only higher than any score achieved during 2009, it is the highest the Index has risen since September 2008, when the recent financial crisis first began.

See full hiring statistics in our USA Index, and for more info check out our Methodology and FAQ pages

According to the CareerCast.com/JobSerf Employment Index, which measures the volume of managerial online job openings across the U.S., job availability rose by 12.5 points in February to an Index score of 83.3 overall. After a five-month period in which the Index remained stuck within a 5.5-point margin, this marks the first month of significant job growth since July 2009, when the Index improved by 17.8 points. However, given that job availability is still 23% below levels seen in February of last year, the job market will need to continue to show significant improvement in the coming months in order to make a serious impact on unemployment.

To determine monthly hiring activity, the CareerCast.com/JobSerf Employment Index surveys the volume of managerial positions posted online across the U.S., as well as the top regions, job levels and cities using proprietary employment data hand-counted by a team of researchers. What does February's overall score of 83.3 mean? The Index measures job availability against a base score of 100, which represents the volume of job openings during the same period in 2007. A score higher than 100 means that there are more available jobs than in 2007, while one below 100 means that job seekers now have fewer opportunities available. Over the past 26 months, the CareerCast.com/JobSerf Index peaked in March 2008, with an index score of 109.3, or 9.3 points better than in March 2007. This month's score of 83.3, on the other hand, is 16.7 points worse than the base measurement in 2007.

Hiring across the U.S. was up overall in February, and this is reflected regionally as well. For the first time since November 2009, all U.S. regions boasted an improved hiring outlook, although some areas still performed considerably better than others. In particular, the Midwest boasted an impressive 19-point jump in job availability, helping make it the best U.S. region to find a job in February. Trailing the Midwest by just 1.5 points was the Northeast, which also enjoyed a substantial, 11% increase in open managerial positions over the past month. Even February's last-place finisher, the West, managed to improve by 7.3 points over January, to an Index score of 70.9. While still nearly 9 points behind the next-weakest region, the Southeast, this is the first positive hiring activity the West has enjoyed since November.

See complete scores and Index tracking information for all parts of the U.S. in our Regions Index

Looking at U.S. cities with the most available job openings, for the eighth month in a row Washington, D.C., finished as the best city to find a job, and its overall Index score continued to grow, rising 7 points to 138. In fact, February's list of the 10 best cities to find a job remained virtually unchanged from previous months, with the exception of Philadelphia, which enjoyed an 8-point gain in job availability to take over 10th place from San Diego. Apart from this, however, all other cities in the top 10 retained their position, and nearly all enjoyed a slight increase in job availability. In fact, February's hiring surge was felt outside the nation's top 10 metro areas as well, as even the Index's bottom two cities, Detroit and Riverside, California, enjoyed gains of 4 and 1 points, respectively.

Check out the 10 best and worst cities to find a job

Tracking managerial job availability across the U.S., the CareerCast.com/JobSerf Employment Index also measures hiring by four employment levels: C-Level, VP, Director and Manager. Mirroring national and regional trends, most job levels showed significant improvement in February, with VP hiring in particular boasting a dramatic gain of 29 points. In fact, three of the four managerial levels measured by the Index saw double-digit improvements in job availability, indicating that this nascent recovery is spread across much of the managerial job market. That said, one of the lone indicators to break from the national trend in February was Director-level hiring, which actually fell in February by nearly 4%.

See complete info on job availability by title going back to January 2008 in our Job Level Index

For complete information on employment by region, job level and the 10 best and worst cities to find a job, the CareerCast.com/JobSerf Employment Index's findings can be found in our detailed scoring pages.



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