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February 13, 2002
Entry-Level Jobs Getting More Attractive
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Laid-off professionals, frustrated by the still-tight job market, are increasingly considering jobs they would have turned up their noses at a year ago, according to the Arizona Republic.

They're taking a huge step down the career ladder, at least temporarily, because they can no longer hold out for a job like the one they lost. They need a paycheck or benefits now.

No employment statistics track the trading-down trend, according to the Republic, and some economists say it appears less prevalent than it was during the last recession, when the unemployment rate was a point higher than today.

"The decibel level in 2002 is not nearly as high as in 1992," said Ken Goldstein, an economist with the Conference Board, a New York-based non-profit research group. "You've got folks who are waiting for the dot.coms to come back; you have entrepreneurs who failed who are looking for the economy to come back so they can try it again. That's a much different sentiment than we had a decade ago."

Still, the Republic notes, evidence abounds of a bleak hiring picture that is forcing those who have been out of work for months to settle for less, especially if they don't want to relocate.

The newspaper cites these indicators:

- The Conference Board's monthly Help-Wanted Advertising Index, a key barometer of the country's job market, is at its lowest level in nearly 40 years. Help-wanted advertising volume is about half of what it was a year ago.

- Nearly one million people nationwide gave up their job searches in January, apparently discouraged by the prospects. That produced an unexpected drop in the unemployment rate.

- Just 38.4% of 1,800 executives surveyed late last year said they planned to add to their staffs in the first half of this year, according to a semiannual hiring survey by Management Recruiters International, a leading search and recruitment firm. A year ago, that figure was near 60%.

- Eighty percent of job consultants at Drake Beam Morin, polled last year by Fortune magazine, said white-collar job seekers are "sometimes" accepting titles and/or salaries below what they expected, and 13% said this is happening "often."


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