Search firms are losing confidence that executive employment will improve anytime soon, according to what ExecuNet’s Recruiter Confidence Index shows. It declined in August after a flat July. Overall, the Index has now been below 40 for three consecutive months and under the magic 50 for even longer.
What this means, says ExecuNet’s President and chief economist Mark Anderson is that companies are taking a “wait and see attitude toward hiring for the next several months.” The impending presidential election, and Congressional inaction on the expiring tax cuts and budget issues have prompted companies to be especially cautious in their hiring.
ExecuNet surveys executive search firms to develop the Index, which is a measure of industry confidence in future hiring. A number above 50 is an indicator of job growth ahead. The current reading, Anderson says, shows that “at this point, recruiters are not overly optimistic that the executive employment market will soon be significantly expanding.”
From what the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ data shows, search firms themselves have yet to reflect that same sense of caution in their own hiring. There are more search firm employees today than at any time in the past decade. In July, the most recent month available, there were 32,200 workers employed in all capacities at search firms nationwide.
After the start of the recession in December 2007, search firm employment rose in that first year, then declined in 2009, reaching a low of 25,700 workers three years ago this month. July’s level is a 25.3% increase since then.