September 2009: Losing Ground, Hiring Suffers Double-Digit Losses

September 2009: Losing Ground, Hiring Suffers Double-Digit Losses

Author Employment Index

Despite signs that the economy is beginning to recover, white-collar job seekers will have to wait a little longer for activity to rebound in the employment market. After four months of increased job availability, the number of managerial positions posted online dropped significantly in September, registering the largest single-month decline since February.

According to the Employment Index, which measures the volume of managerial jobs available online across the U.S., job posting activity was down 14% in September, falling to an overall Index Score of 68.4. This follows four straight months of recovery since the market bottomed out in April, when job-posting activity registered an index score of just 41.4. Despite steady improvement over that period, however, the overall volume of available jobs remained more than 25 points below levels seen before the economic downturn that began in September, 2008.

There are many possible reasons for September’s poor performance, such as the late Labor Day leading to a delayed transition from the summer hiatus, or a temporary lull after four straight months of increased job-posting activity. Job seekers will have to wait until October to see if September was an anomaly or the beginning of a trend, but with the national unemployment rate already at 9.7%, unfortunately joblessness may have hit double digits by the time they find out.

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

So what exactly does an Index Score of 68.4 mean? The Index measures job availability for each month against a base score of 100, which represents the volume of job openings online during the same month in 2007. A score higher than 100 indicates that the number of available jobs is greater than during the same month in 2007, while a score below 100 means that job-posting activity is worse than it was in 2007. Over the past 21 months the Index peaked in March 2008 with an Index Score of 109.3, or 9.3 points greater the same period in 2007. September’s Index Score of 68.4, however, is not only 19.3 points below levels seen a year ago, but a full 31.6 points worse than the base measurement in 2007.

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

Surveying job market performance across the nation, all U.S. regions saw a decrease in available jobs posted in September, with only the West managing to avoid double-digit losses. At an Index Score of 75.6, the Northeast remains the best region to find a managerial job for the second month in a row – although posting activity was still off by more than 15% from August. And while the West suffered the least from September’s national decline, this was partly due to the fact that it was already trailing the rest of the country. At an Index Score of 64.5, the West is still the worst-performing region in the U.S., although after steep losses across the country it now trails the second-worst performer, the Midwest, by just 0.6 points.

Check out all eight best and worst cities to find a job.

Given the Northeast led all regions in September with an Index Score of 75.6, it’s no surprise that the area boasted four of the top eight best cities to find a job last month. For the third month in a row, Washington, D.C., reigned supreme as the top city for white-collar job seekers, with Boston following in second place. There were no newcomers to September’s best cities list, although in keeping with the 14.2-point decline across the Southeast, Atlanta dropped into eighth place, down from fifth in August. Once again, the worst U.S. city for job seekers based on available jobs per capita was Riverside, Calif., followed by Detroit and Memphis.

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

Tracking managerial job openings across the U.S., the Employment Index also breaks down hiring by four employment levels: C-Level, VP, Director and Manager. After leading all levels since May, the market for C-Suite jobs suffered a 30% decline to fall behind Director and Manager, posting an Index Score of 63. Director boasted the highest volume of job openings in September despite being hit by a 12-point loss, leading second place Manager by 10 points. In addition, while all levels suffered steep declines last month, Manager managed to fare the best with a loss of nine points, the only one to avoid a double-digit decline.

For complete information on employment by region, job level and the 8 best and worst cities to find a job, the Employment Index's findings can be found in our detailed scoring pages:


Career Topics
Employment Trends