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Job Outlook for Q4 2012 Mirroring Pre-Recession, CareerBuilder Study Finds

CareerBuilder’s latest survey of more than 2,000 employers nationwide is pointing to a more upbeat fourth quarter. Twenty-six percent of employers plan to add full-time, permanent headcount in the next three months, up five percentage points from 2011 and closely mirroring pre-recession estimates (27 percent). The study was conducted by Harris Interactive© from August 13 to September 6, 2012 and included 2,494 hiring managers and human resource professionals and 3,976 workers across industries and company sizes.

“This is the most optimistic fourth quarter projection since 2007,” said Matt Ferguson, CEO of CareerBuilder. “We’re seeing continued evidence of stability and growth in the U.S. job market. A dramatic upswing in hiring is not likely to happen in the near term, but we’re setting the stage for better job creation in 2013 and beyond.”

One-in-five employers (22 percent) said the outcome of the U.S. Presidential election will likely impact their pace of hiring in 2013; 48 percent said it will have no impact while 30 percent are unsure.

Hiring in Q3 2012: Nearly one-third (32 percent) of employers added full-time, permanent headcount in the third quarter, up from 26 percent last year. Twelve percent decreased headcount, similar to 2011 (11 percent). Fifty-six percent made no change to staff levels and 1 percent were unsure.

Hiring in Q4 2012: Looking ahead, 26 percent of employers plan to hire full-time, permanent employees in the fourth quarter, up from 21 percent last year. Given that employers historically have been more conservative in estimates than actual hiring activity, the number may come in higher at quarter end.

Nine percent expect to downsize staffs, down from 10 percent last year. Sixty-one percent expect no change while 4 percent are undecided.

Temporary Hiring: Temporary employees are accounting for a larger proportion of the employment mix within organizations. Thirty-eight percent of employers hired temporary or contract workers in the third quarter, up from 32 percent last year. One-third (33 percent) plan to hire temporary or contract workers in the fourth quarter, up from 27 percent last year. Twenty-three percent are planning to transition some contract or temporary staff into permanent employees in the fourth quarter, up from 17 percent last year.

Hiring By Company Size: The number of employers planning to recruit in the next few months increased by at least four percentage points over last year across all company sizes.

  • 50 or fewer employees – 16 percent plan to add full-time, permanent staff in Q4, up from 12 percent last year; 7 percent expect to reduce headcount, on par with last year.
  • 250 or fewer employees – 20 percent plan to add full-time, permanent staff in Q4, up from 15 percent last year; those reducing headcount remained at 8 percent.
  • 500 or fewer employees – 21 percent plan to add full-time, permanent staff in Q4, up from 17 percent last year; those reducing headcount remained at 8 percent.
  • More than 500 employees – 34 percent plan to add full-time, permanent staff in Q4, up from 27 percent last year; 9 percent expect to reduce headcount, down from 11 percent last year.

Hiring By Region: The hiring picture is improving across regions with the West appearing the most optimistic. The Midwest continues to trail other regions.

  • West – 31 percent plan to add full-time, permanent staff in Q4, up from 23 percent last year; 7 percent expect to reduce headcount, down from 12 percent last year.
  • South – 28 percent plan to add full-time, permanent staff in Q4, up from 21 percent last year; 8 percent expect to reduce headcount, down from 9 percent last year.
  • Northeast – 24 percent plan to add full-time, permanent staff in Q4, up from 19 percent last year; 10 percent expect to reduce headcount, on par with last year.
  • Midwest – 23 percent plan to add full-time, permanent staff in Q4, up from 21 percent last year; 10 percent expect to reduce headcount, up from 9 percent last year.

Jobs with the Most Turnover: As the job market moves in a positive direction, workers are feeling more confident about job prospects and are pursuing new opportunities. Eighteen percent of hiring managers reported that top performers left their organizations in the third quarter.

The top five positions companies cited for having the most turnover in their organizations this year include:

  • Sales Representative
  • Administrative Assistant
  • IT Manager/Network Administrator
  • Engineer
  • Customer Service Representative

The competition for talent is becoming more intense. Half (50 percent) of employers who extended a job offer in the last year reported that a candidate rejected the offer. Employers primarily attribute the rejection to candidates taking another job offer or their organization not being able to meet desired salary.

Download the full report here.

Jennifer Grasz

About Jennifer Grasz

Vice President, Corporate Communications at CareerBuilder
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