This Week's Herman Trend Alert

The Rise of
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  The Herman Trend Alert

March 9, 2005

Feeling the Pinch

Employers are beginning to feel the tight labor market. Our ongoing research with a wide range of employers throughout the United States and in a number of other countries confirms that finding, recruiting, and hiring qualified people is becoming more challenging. Stories we hear move us to say, "MUCH more challenging."

The number of job openings is increasing---at all levels. Recruiters are more aggressive now, seeking qualified people to work as executives, managers, technicians, production workers, salespeople, drivers, mechanics, and many other jobs. One FORTUNE 500 company has 7,000 openings; another needs 8,000 over the next six months. Retained search firms have difficulty finding qualified senior executives.

Human resource professionals report noticeable increases in employee departures. In several cases, we heard stories about several people leaving at once in pre- planned team resignations. Some angry workers want to make a statement; they want their employers to know that they are not happy with the way they have been treated during the past four years.

Electronic job boards report a significant increase in the volume of resumes. Aside from Monster's campaign to gather more resumes with a $50,000 prize incentive, the flow has grown considerably. Activity in the employment market is much stronger than it was just a couple of months ago. The difference is obvious. That change is important for trend-watchers who forecast future conditions. We confirm our forecast that this year will see unprecedented employee turnover and serious shortages of skilled workers.

Data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reinforce this trend. This agency reports that total domestic employment enjoyed an almost steady climb from February 2004 to January 2005, rising from 138,334,000 to 140,241,000: 1,907,000 people gained employment in less than a year. These seasonally adjusted statistics cover all employed persons ages 16 and over. Under these circumstances, increased attention to changing jobs is not surprising.

This phenomenon is not limited to the United States. The same challenges are being experienced around the world. Our contacts in other countries report that employers in their regions have trouble filling positions requiring skills and leadership ability as well.


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