Thursday, August 27, 2009

Pittsburgh Job Market in August Still Flat From Spring

Having been directly involved with the recruitment industry in Pittsburgh for the past dozen years or so, speaking with literally thousands of human resource professionals, business owners and department heads across the region, we are seeing this year shaping up to be the most unusual in trending that we have encountered.

After having maintained a relatively healthy level of recruitment activity through most of 2008 (until 4th quarter) we, along with the rest of the country, plummeted in ad count during first quarter of 2009. Beginning just after our job fair at Mellon Arena in late March, however, the precipitous drop in activity leveled out in April giving hope that May and June might see a reversal and show some improvement.

Seasonally, spring and fall are the biggest hiring periods (and thus, highest ad counts) of the year. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you look at it) recruitment activity remained flat through April. May came and went and then June and July. Mid summer and mid winter have always trended as the weakest recruitment periods in the past but recruitment activity this summer did not rise or fall to any significant amount. August is now about over and levels still remain flat from July. Hiring managers appear to be holding their collective breaths waiting to see what the near term economy will bring.

As has been widely publicized over the past year, healthcare and education related fields show the greatest strengths in terms of activity in the Pittsburgh region. Other areas that have shown some strength are food prep/hospitality, social services, protective services and technician/maintenance (including automotive technicians).

Nationally the job market is projected to remain in decline through at least mid 2010. While Pittsburgh has enjoyed one of the strongest job markets in the country through the past year and a half, the best we can hope for going into September is that we are “less worse” than August. If seasonal hiring trends once again begin to approach typical form, we could see a fall hiring season that shows some job growth in our region. That is a big “if”.