After boasting a strong performance in July, employment activity declined once again in August, putting national employment activity on pace to fall back below 2007 levels as soon as September.
CareerCast.com/JobSerf Employment Index
According to the latest CareerCast.com/JobSerf Index, employment activity in August fell by 4.6 points to an Index score of 102.3 overall. This marks the first decline in employment activity since May, and is just the third month that has seen a reduction in hiring all year. That said, employment activity is still trending higher than 2007 levels, and has managed to remain above the 100-point threshold for two straight months for the first time since July - August of 2008.
To determine monthly employment activity, the CareerCast.com/JobSerf Index surveys the volume of managerial job openings available online across the U.S., as well as the regions, job titles and major cities with the highest number of employment opportunities per capita. Results are determined using proprietary employment data hand-counted by a team of researchers. What does an overall Index score of 102.3 for August mean? The Index measures employment activity 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 32 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 102.3 means that even though employment activity declined from last month, it is still 2.3 points higher than the base measurement in 2007.
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This is just the second time in 24 months that employment activity has beaten its 2007 base score, and marks a 28% gain in available job openings in the U.S. over the past year. And although August saw hiring decline for the first time since May, employment activity has still increased more than 30 points since January. Of greater concern is how this month's performance will affect hiring in September, which is traditionally a time when companies add new staff. In 2009, a brief summer surge was followed by an unexpected 15% decline in hiring in the fall, which set the job market recovery back an additional four months. Given that a substantial increase in hiring is needed to make a serious dent in the national unemployment rate, September's performance will be an important indicator for how the job market will fare over the rest of the year.