Hiring Slows As Demand Weakens

Consumer Spending Slows, Hiring Outlook Precarious

Cautious consumers may hurt the tenuous recovery, as household purchases grew at the slowest pace in a year, according to Commerce Department data. “Hiring going forward will, in large part, be defined by the demand of consumers,” said Challenger. “If companies aren’t growing quickly, they don’t need the workers, even if they have the cash to hire. Employers are still incredibly uneasy about the economy and don’t want to take any risks.” The biggest hiring announcements have come from the automotive sector, which through the first half of 2012 has announced over 12,000 new jobs in the US, according to Challenger. Other industries that have announced hiring plans include industrial manufacturing with over 7,000 through June, and the financial sector with just under 7,000. “The automotive industry is beginning to make a comeback as makers introduce new technologies that make cars more efficient and desirable. This increase in manufacturing trickles down to suppliers and retailers, as well,” said Challenger. What other industries may see a boom in hiring? What factors contribute to a positive hiring trend? How might the jobless seek out industries ripe for growth?

Economic News Sapping Confidence

The recent spate of weak economic news and the ongoing threat of a European financial disaster are sapping the confidence of consumers and business leaders alike.  The latest reading on consumer confidence by the Conference Board declined for the fourth consecutive month in June, as consumers expressed a gloomier outlook for future business conditions and income.  Meanwhile, the Business Roundtable’s quarterly survey of CEOs from the nation’s largest companies found them less optimistic about sales, capital spending and hiring in the second quarter.  Only 36 percent of CEOs expected their companies to add more workers over the next six months, down from 51 percent at the same point last year.  The latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics suggest that hiring may indeed be heading for a summer slump.  The Bureau’s Job Opening and Labor Turnover survey found that employers hired 4,175,000 new workers in April, down from 4,335,000 the previous month.  What will it take to boost confidence among consumers and business leaders?  Why does falling confidence virtually ensure that that the economy will remain in a weakened state through the summer?  Are there any bright spots in the economic or employment picture?

Despite High Unemployment, Companies Struggling to Fill Openings

While recent reports indicate a softening job market heading into the summer, one new study reveals that some of the slowdown in hiring may be due to a lack of talent.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover survey, there were 3,416,000 job openings at the end of April.  That was down from 3,741,000 job openings in March, but it was still significantly higher than the 3,014,000 openings the previous April.  Unfortunately, these openings appear more and more difficult to fill.  In a new survey by CareerBuilder, 38 percent of employers reported having positions for which they cannot find qualified candidates.  One-third (34 percent) reported that job vacancies have resulted in a lower quality of work due to employees being overworked, and 23 percent cited a loss in revenue.  What steps can be taken to alleviate the widening skills gap?  With labor force immobility contributing to the shortage of skilled workers, what can companies and local governments do to help get workers with the right skills to the places where they are most needed?  

Older Job Seekers In Demand

Recent reports reveal the challenge older job seekers face in the current hiring environment, with more than one-third of those 55 and older experiencing prolonged joblessness lasting longer than a year.  However, the situation for older workers is not entirely grim.  In fact, a new analysis of employment trends reveals that this segment of the population is enjoying the strongest job gains of any age group.

The analysis of government labor data by global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. found that job seekers age 55 and older account for nearly 70 percent of the employment gains since January 1, 2010.

Overall, the number of employed Americans has increased by 4,319,000 between January 2010 and May 2012, according to household survey data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Older job seekers – those 55 and up – accounted for 2,998,000 or 69 percent of the total employment growth. Continue reading

Companies Pledge To Hire Veterans

This week, General Electric announced a program that will place up to 5,000 military veterans in jobs within the company over the next five years.   Other employers are also making special efforts to reach out to veterans, who often struggle to make the transition from military service to traditional employment.   Siemens plans to hire an additional 300 veterans in 2012.  JP Morgan Chase, Delta Airlines, ManTech International, and Pitney Bowles are just some of the companies that have joined the 100,000 Jobs Mission, created to highlight the benefits of hiring veterans and matching veterans with job openings.  Due to these efforts, the unemployment rate among vet is finally beginning to come down.  Unemployment among all vets 18 years and older fell to 7.5 percent in January, compared to 9.9 percent a year earlier.  Unemployment for veterans of the most recent wars in Iraqand Afghanistanis still higher than the overall national average at 9.1 percent, but that is down from 15.2 percent a year ago.  Unfortunately, more veterans are entering the civilian labor market every day.  In August and September, various military branches announced personnel reductions totaling 67,500 and more expected to come as military budgets continue to be targeted for cutbacks in the coming years.  What are the biggest challenges for veterans making the transition to the civilian workforce?  How do employers benefit by hiring veterans?  What are some special strategies veterans can employ in their job search? 

Economic Indicators Point To Recovery

Several new reports out today offer further evidence of a strengthening economy and a promise of accelerated hiring.  The Commerce Department reported that retail sales rose 0.4 percent in January.  Sales have now increased 21 percent since a recession and are actually six percent above the pre-recession high.  Thanks to increased consumer spending, companies are rebuilding inventories, which grew by 0.4 percent in December.  The restocking of inventories, in turn, helps boost factory output, which increased by 0.7 percent in January, according to the Federal Reserve.  The gains in consumer spending, inventories and manufacturing are essential to job growth.  John Challenger, employment authority and CEO of outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., says that the new year is starting off on the right foot when it comes to the potential for accelerated job creation.  “Employment saw a net gain of 243,000 jobs in January.  We’ll need an additional 100,000 each month to start making a significant dent in unemployment, but we are definitely heading in the right direction.  It is certainly promising that there were 3.4 million job openings at the end of December, according the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  That was up from 3.1 million a month earlier.  Renewed efforts by Congress to unshackle homeowners from underwater mortgages may further help the employment situation by giving people increased flexibility to sell their homes and relocate to areas where jobs are being created.”  How long will it take for employment to return to pre-recession levels?  What are the biggest threats to the recovery?  What can long-time job seekers do to take advantage of new employment opportunities?

Challenger 26th Annual Job Seeker Call-In Days December 27th and 28th

As the job market continues to recover at a snail’s pace and millions of Americans struggle to overcome long-term unemployment, global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. will suspend normal business operations for two days so that its staff of professional counselors can provide free job-search advice to callers from across the country.

The firm’s 26th annual two-day national job-search call-in takes place December 27 and 28, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. CST.  The telephone number is 312-422-5010.  Job seekers can get more information about the call-in at firm’s website (www.challengergray.com) and blog (challengeratwork.wordpress.com).

“The employment situation did see some improvement in 2011.  Employers in the private sector have added 1.7 million workers to their payrolls since January 1 and, last month, the unemployment rate fell to its lowest level since March 2009,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

“Unfortunately, the recovery has a long way to go with more than 13 million Americans out of work, another 6.6 million who have abandoned the job search but still want a job, and nearly 5.7 million who have been unemployed for six months or longer,” he added.

Challenger expects the job market to continue its slow but steady improvement in 2012.  Planned job-cut announcements tracked monthly by Challenger’s firm are up slightly from 2010, but still well below recession levels.  Through the end of November, employers announced 564,297 planned job cuts, compared to 497,969 over the same period in 2010.  In contrast, employers announced 1,242,936 by November 2009.

While job cuts have slowed significantly, job growth remains frustratingly slow.  Many job seekers have concluded that there are no opportunities and have abandoned the job search entirely.  However, while it may seem as if no one is hiring, nothing could be further from the truth.

In September alone, employers hired 4,245,000 new workers, according the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Job Openings and Labor Turnover survey.  There were another 3,354,000 job openings at the end of the month.  The impact of this is somewhat offset by the fact that total separations (including voluntary and involuntary) totaled 4,149,000 in September.

“It is important to remember that the employment market is a fluid environment – it is constantly changing.  Not every job loss is due to cost cutting.  About half of the separations in September were people quitting their jobs.  Another 330,000 retired, transferred to new locations, or left due to disability.  Some are let go as part of layoffs, but many are let go for cause or because they simply were not a good fit for the job.  In many cases, companies are seeking replacements for those who leave voluntarily as well as those who are asked to leave,” said Challenger.

“Part of a successful job search is being in the right place at the right time.  We try to provide callers with some strategies that will increase the odds of them being in the best position when job openings do materialize,” said Challenger.

“It is critical to aggressively build and take advantage of one’s professional and social networks.  Let everyone know that you are seeking a position.  When more people know, the greater your chances of hearing about new opportunities, meeting the right people and getting a foot in the door,” he added.

“One of the most common complaints we hear from callers year-after-year is that they have sent out hundreds of resumes and responded to dozens of online and newspaper help-wanted ads and never hear back from anyone.

“Unfortunately, simply posting resumes on Internet job sites and answering classified ads rarely work, even in a good job market.  These activities are even less effective in a weak job market.  Under current conditions, it is critical that job seekers expand their job search through networking.  Job seekers may also want to consider expanding their parameters to include a wide variety of industries, companies and cities.  Do not rule out companies that are struggling, as they are looking for talented individuals who can help turn around the business,” Challenger advised.

As an outplacement firm, Challenger, Gray & Christmas provides job-search training and transition counseling to individuals who have been laid off.  The firm’s services are typically available only to those who receive outplacement benefits from their former employer.  The two-day call-in is the only time that anyone in the general public can take advantage of Challenger’s job-search expertise.

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Advertise your job loss.

If knowing the right people helps to get your foot in the door, then it is essential that the right people know you are seeking a job.  An unfortunate obstacle to job search success is pride. Too often people are embarrassed to tell anyone about their job loss, but this secrecy will not provide any job leads.

The minute you lose your job or decide you want to change jobs, start telling everyone you know that you are looking. Begin with friends, family and neighbors.

Talk to former co-workers and even casual business acquaintances you may have dealt with in your position. Share your plight with people at your house of worship.  You can also join new social groups, professional associations and volunteer organizations to expand your circle of potential contacts.

Meet with new people every day (or as often as possible).

Whether it is an official interview, an informational interview or just meeting over lunch with a friend who has extensive contacts in a variety of industries, it is critical to meet face to face with people in your network frequently, if not daily.

Electronic mail has made staying in touch with contacts faster and easier, but face-to-face meeting remain the most powerful and effective way to communicate your skills, experience and qualifications as well as obtain the most useful help from your contact, in terms of job search advice, potential contacts and new opportunities.


Once you have created a list of contacts and job leads, the next step is to begin making phone calls to arrange interviews. In each call, your goal is to contact an “action person,” someone who can see you and then offer you a job.

Contact the Hiring Authority, Not HR.

Human Resources rarely makes the final hiring decision, unless the job opening is in that department. The heads of the various departments determine when new people are needed, so it is critical to get their names. If you want to work in sales, then get the name of the head of sales.

The best way to obtain a manager’s name is simply by calling the company.

(Avoid telling the switchboard the call is about a job or else face transfer to human resources).

Seek Interviews When Others Are Not.

Oftentimes, the key to obtaining an interview is having the flexibility to fit into the interviewer’s busy schedule. Since you are meeting with a manager, not human resources, chances are the person is very busy with several projects in addition to hiring someone.  Let the interviewer know that you are willing to meet before or after hours, on the weekends or at a location other than the office.

Do Not Take A Holiday From Interviewing.

Many job seekers take a vacation from the job search during the holidays, figuring that no one is hiring. This is a mistake on their part, but one that can be used to the diligent job seeker’s advantage.

The fact is employers are hiring all of the time. If there is a need for workers, then it does not matter if it is the week of Christmas. And, while it is true that some of those you wish to interview with are on vacation, there are going to be many others who are working throughout the holidays.

Job seekers who keep up their interviewing schedule during the holidays, or even try to increase their activity, will likely be rewarded with several interviews.

Citi Cuts Add To Financial Sector Job Woes


Citigroup announced a round of job cuts today that will impact about one percent of its global workforce.  That amounts to roughly 3,000 workers, mostly from its securities and banking unit.  Through October of this year, financial firms have announced 54,510 planned job cuts, up 161 percent from the 20,886 job cuts announced from January through October a year ago, according to layoff tracking by global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.  The largest banking cut this year came just two months ago, when Bank of America announced in September that it would shed about 30,000 workers over the next few years.  “Banks are still in bad shape following the recession and there are still a mountain of problems they must navigate, including the European debt crisis, the millions of foreclosed-on homes sitting on their books and record low interest rates.  While many industries can say, ‘the worst is over,’ the banking industry is still waiting for the other shoe to drop,” saidJohn A. Challenger,CEOof Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

Top Financial Job Cut Announcements, 2011 YTD

Bank ofAmerica


Bank ofAmerica




Bank ofAmerica




Synovus Financial Corp.


Goldman Sachs


Could Japan’s Nuclear Troubles Kill Energy Jobs?

Japan’s 8.9 magnitude earthquake last week caused immeasurable destruction, including an explosion at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station and failed cooling systems at its reactors. Japanese officials have been cooling the station with sea water, rendering it useless for future use. Since the tragedy, concerns over the safety nuclear power have grown.  These concerns could prove to be significant blow to the expansion of nuclear power in this country, which many – including President Obama — touted not only as a solution to our dependence on foreign energy but also as a path to new job creation.  Will risks of nuclear energy exposed by the tragedy in Japan derail expansion of the industry here?  What will the impact on job creation be if interest in this form of alternative energy fizzles?  What other forms of alternative energy show promise as a generator of jobs?