October 2009: Finding Bottom? After a Sudden Drop, Hiring Stabilizes

October 2009: Finding Bottom? After a Sudden Drop, Hiring Stabilizes

CareerCast.com/JobSerf Employment Index

After an unexpected drop of 14% last month, the volume of managerial job openings available online stabilized once again in October, declining by just 0.8%. However, while nervous white-collar job seekers can take heart that hiring activity isn’t experiencing the same free fall it did a year ago, hopes of a rapid, sustained recovery in job availability may be on hold for the near future.

According to the CareerCast.com/JobSerf Employment Index, which measures the volume of managerial openings across the U.S., job posting activity dropped a total of 0.6 points in October, to an overall Index Score 67.8. This is a far cry from the 11.4-point loss seen in September, but still marks the second month of negative activity after a period of sustained growth, when job availability increased by almost 90% between April and August. Recent speculation had been that the employment crisis was finally coming to an end, and while hiring activity has made significant gains this year, it is still nearly 8% below October 2008 levels, when the recent economic downturn began in earnest.

See full information in our USA Index, and for more details check out our Methodology and FAQ pages

Explanations for September's poor performance ranged from a late labor day pushing back the transition from summer to the possibility of a temporary "sell-off" after four straight months of increased activity. However, given that the beginning of fall is traditionally a strong period for white-collar hiring, October's continued decline in job availability now indicates that a return to 2008 levels is further away than previously believed. Given that the upcoming holiday season is traditionally a weak time for hiring, without a strong November rebound the job market will likely continue to decline, forcing job hunters to step up their efforts in order to succeed.

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

In order to determine monthly hiring activity, the CareerCast.com/JobSerf Employment Index surveys the volume of available managerial positions from multiple sources across the U.S., compiling a final overall score for the nation, as well as specific data on top regions, job levels and cities. What does October’s overall score of 67.8 mean? The CareerCast.com/JobSerf 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 to choose from. Over the past 21 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. October's score of 67.8, on the other hand, is 32.2 points worse than the base measurement in 2007.

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Mirroring the national trend, regional hiring activity in October also remained relatively stagnant, with most areas seeing a small decline from the month before. One noted exception was the Northeast, which actually managed a 2.4-point increase to reach a score of 78.0. Not only was this the only U.S. region to boast positive job growth in October, but the Northeast managed to perform nearly 4% better than it did last year as well – the first time any region has outpaced 2008 levels this year. This strong showing was aided by the performance of several cities in the region, with 4 of the 8 best cities to find a job in October hailing from the Northeast. Washington, D.C., once again led the pack by a significant margin and was followed by Boston, with Baltimore and New York rounding out the region’'presence further down the list.

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

Tracking managerial job openings across the U.S., the CareerCast.com/JobSerf Employment Index also breaks down hiring by four employment levels: C-Level, VP, Director and Manager. No level experienced significant movement in October, although the dramatic drop in availability of C-Suite jobs continued, with the volume of openings decreasing another point to fall into last place. Managing a score of just 62, this marks a more-than 30% decline in availability since August, when C-Suite led all other levels. Interestingly, after all levels suffered dramatic losses in September, the availability of VP and Director level jobs actually improved this month, helping push VP up two spots into second place, past C-Level and Manager, respectively.


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