August 29, 2001
Some Sectors Still Hiring, Including Dot-coms
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It's not all gloom and doom out there, according to the Christian Science Monitor, which reports that despite all the layoffs and closings, scores of industries are still hiring, including mining firms, mortgage bankers, health services, oil companies, insurance providers, and electric utilities.
The newspaper points in particular to one statistic as proof that jobs are available: The newly unemployed are taking only 2.07 months, on average, to find another job.
"The unemployment rate would not be at 4.5 percent if that were not happening," says John Challenger of Chicago outplacement firm Challenger Gray & Christmas, which tracks firing and hiring patterns.
The employment picture reflects a diverse economy, the Monitor explains. Even as manufacturing has faltered, industries like coal and oil are boosting output; other industries, like housing, are seeing sales stimulated by falling interest rates.
The Monitor tempers the good news by noting that last week, initial and continuing claims for unemployment rose in mid-August. And in two weeks, when the government reports the jobless rate for August, it will probably tick up again.
"We expect it to peak at about 5.3 percent next spring," says economist David Wyss of Standard & Poor's/DRI in New York.
Two areas account for a significant portion of the layoffs - manufacturing and temporary services. These two categories lost 1.2 million jobs in the past year.
Temp-job activity is expected to be near historic lows for the final quarter of the year, according to a survey released today by Manpower, a Milwaukee-based temp agency. The malaise has spread to services, it says.
"A lot of companies hired temps so they could avoid laying off full-time workers," Wyss explains for the Monitor.
And yet . . .
Even as manufacturing and temp services have shed jobs, there has been a gain of 2 million new jobs in the US over the past year. This is about the same as last year, but the mix has changed. Companies are hiring more managerial and professional workers.
Even among dotcoms, for all their woes, demand continues strong for technical employees. A year ago, there were about 1 million unfilled jobs. Now, computer experts estimate this is down to about 400,000 to 500,000 jobs looking for workers.
"The pace has slowed down, but it's still a good place to be employment-wise," says Don McLaurin, head of the National Association of Computer Consultant Businesses in Alexandria, Va.
He says the industry's sales are growing about 10 percent this year, even though that's down significantly from the 30-percent rate of the past decade.
To view the Christian Science Monitor story, click here