DM job losses show signs of bottoming out

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The direct marketing job market may have hit a bottom, according to the latest quarterly employment report from Bernhart Associates Executive Search.

According to the survey, 20% of respondents said they will be adding staff during the current summer quarter, up from 16% in the spring. “This is the first quarter in two years in which the hiring index is showing improvement,” said Jerry Bernhart, principal at Bernhart Associates, in a statement.

Planned layoffs also continued to trend lower, declining for the third quarter in a row. According to the survey, 8% of responding companies plan to reduce staff in the current quarter, compared with 13% last quarter and 20% at the start of 2009.

However, 13% of business-to-consumer direct marketers said they expect further layoffs this summer compared with 9% among business-to-business respondents.

Despite the uptick, Bernhart foresees no significant comeback in hiring until 2010.

“Companies are telling us they're thinking about making staffing changes, but they are slow to pull the trigger,” said Bernhart, in the statement.

The number of companies reporting hiring freezes held steady at 30%. The hiring freeze figure was higher for agencies, with 44% reporting that they're holding off on hiring. Hiring freezes are expected to remain in place through the rest of 2009.

A record 402 companies responded to the random survey, which was e-mailed the week of June 22.

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