Survey: DM Employment Indicators Grow Strong

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Direct marketers enter the second quarter with widespread hiring plans and fewer planned layoffs, according to the latest Bernhart Associates employment survey.


"The new jobs index remains at healthy levels, with 63 percent of the companies surveyed planning to add to staff between now and July," said Jerry Bernhart, president of Bernhart Associates Executive Search Inc., Owatonna, MN, which has conducted the quarterly survey for more than three years. "Other key measures including planned layoffs and hiring freezes are at multi-year lows. The vast majority of hires are going to be new positions rather than replacements."


Results of the quarterly survey are published in the Direct Marketing Association's annual Statistical Fact Book.


"Recruitment activity also remains brisk," said Bernhart, who noted a steady rise in search assignments for more senior positions. "Turndowns are also making a comeback, with the pendulum swinging more in the candidate's direction."


But despite the encouraging trend, a level of uncertainty remains out there, he said: "Ten percent said there is the possibility that they may cut staff this quarter, and many companies said extra approval is required before they can hire, stretching out the interviewing process."


Among 186 direct marketing companies responding to the survey, only 5 percent said they planned reductions this spring, down sharply from 12 percent last quarter. The number of companies with hiring freezes fell to 16 percent, the lowest level since winter 2001.


Bernhart said the survey shows hiring is expected to pick up across all major job categories.


"Creative positions are high on the list this quarter," he said. "Account management, sales and sales support will also be in demand."


Companies interested in being added to the quarterly survey should send an e-mail to survey@bernhart.com with "opt-in" in the subject line.


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