In the first of a three-part series, The Hired Guns’ Top Gun Allison Hemming discusses the signs of recovery and the new rules of the road.
Working in the talent and hiring business means you have no choice but to learn to read the economy’s tea leaves. Just before the dark days of 2008, we were the scary canary squawking about the imminent doom headed our way. You might say that it wasn’t well-received. I got hate mail by the score. Nobody wanted to hear it, but that didn’t make it any less true. No one knew how long that disastrous roller-coaster ride would last. And no one expected it to get remotely as bad as it did. We all went through rough patches and almost no one’s career got through unscathed.
But just as we felt the weight of the recession before others, we’re now beginning to see a genuine recovery taking shape. As we noted last week, the September jobs report looked good. On the surface, it’s clear that unemployment is starting to edge down and the private sector is hiring. But what looks like simple green shoots is actually much more complex and vastly more exciting. Let’s break it down:
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a drop in the unemployment rate from August’s 8.1 to a somewhat less dire 7.8 in September. The BLS also reported an increase of 114,000 non-farm jobs. Meanwhile, ADP (who, unlike the BLS, includes government and other jobs outside the private sector) reported a healthier increase of 162,000. The July and August numbers were revised lower, but still show increases (156,000 and 189,000, respectively) that look promisingly robust for a season that’s traditionally light when it comes to hiring.
Those numbers only tell part of the story. Here’s what’s happening at The Hired Guns at this very moment in time:
Throughout the summer we were working at full steam responding to clients’ hiring demands. Our interviewing suites were packed even during the notoriously slow dog days of August. The difference between August 2011 and 2012 was night and day. As fall hit, the intensity only increased. Certainly, fall hiring — a reliable if ultimately cyclical phenomenon — tends to be busy. But this year, it’s unprecedented. Unlike last year when companies were mostly window shopping for talent, 2012 has been about hiring and growing their businesses. Our full time closes are double over last year. And the sense of urgency is only increasing as we head into year-end.
Naysayers will, of course, hedge against claims of recovery by pointing to slowing growth in China and the ongoing disaster that is the euro. Sure, these things could stall the US recovery, but from where we sit there’s every reason to be more than cautiously optimistic.
Next week, in Part 2, Allison analyzes how the new economics of the recovery will affect employees and job seekers.