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12/29/2009

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Not to be negative, but do you really feel that the 52,000 temporary hires nationally is a good sign of a recovering economy that we can hang our hats on, or the sign of the holiday season? How many of those did UPS and Federal Express Account for??

Thanks for your comments John.

You raise a good point, but keep in mind that after a string of 1/2 million jobs lost per month during the depths of the recession (including temporary hires), the fact that job losses have dried up to a trickle and that there is now a net increase in temporary hiring is a very encouraging sign.

Coming out of a economic downturn, increased temporary hiring virtually always precedes an increase in "permanent" hiring, as employers tend to be quite shy about making new commitments before they are confident of a sustainable recovery.

I can't speak for UPS, but as a former regional HR professional for FedEx, my guess is their temporary hiring was quite light this year. At FedEx, nearly all professional staff kick in to help over the holidays, and this limits the need to hire large numbers of temps, even in good years, which 2009 certainly was not (although it was better than 2008).

Hi,Doug,

This BNA report shows that there has been wage growth in the overall economy in 2009. BLS also reports the same phenomenon. Wages tend to remain rigid during recessions, as you may know.

BNA Index Predicts Slower Wage Growth
Arlington, Va. (Dec. 15, 2009) — The rate of annual wage increases in the private sector likely will slow further in the coming months, according to the revised fourth quarter Wage Trend Indicator™ (WTI) released today by BNA, a leading publisher of specialized news and information.

The WTI fell for the seventh consecutive quarter, to 97.53 (second quarter 1976 = 100) from 98.00 in the third quarter. “We've seen some signs that the job market may be hitting bottom, but it will take a lot more than that to produce a turnaround,” Kathryn Kobe, an economic consultant to BNA, said. “Until the labor market strengthens, annual increases will remain very weak,” Kobe said.

Although very few jobs were lost in November, most workers have little bargaining power to demand higher pay because of double-digit unemployment and reduced workweeks, Kobe says. The rate of wage growth overall in the private sector is expected to drop below the 1.4 percent posted in the third quarter, according to the latest Department of Labor data. That was the smallest year-over-year gain on record and less than half the 2.9 percent increase for the same period in 2008.

Reflecting poor labor market conditions, five of the WTI’s seven components made negative contributions to the revised fourth quarter index, while one was positive and one was neutral

http://www.bna.com/wti/highlights.htm

Klaus

Thanks for the additional data and perspective Klaus!

Doug,

Very interesting post and commentary on our current employment situation. While I do agree that the labor scenario is better than it has been, I think the most private sector employers (particularly small businesses) will hesitate to add employees until the costs for health care reform and cap & trade are known. The pain of layoffs from an employer's perspective are too fresh to forget (yes, it's hard for employers too!) unless a sustained increase in business can justify the addition of a FTE.

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