Steady job growth fueled by temporary and tech hiring

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2013 midyear forecast

By Matt Ferguson, CEO of CareerBuilder

As the latest jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics signaled, there continue to be signs of sustained economic recovery. The U.S. added 195,000 jobs in June, higher than economists’ expectations, and April and May numbers were revised upward by 70,000 jobs. The rise in consumer confidence — which reached a five-year high in June — along with a stronger housing market and increased auto sales — have also helped build up the economy in recent months.

As we look forward to the second half of the year, the overall picture will continue to improve. Businesses are becoming more confident, but economic headwinds still linger, so we can expect job growth to continue its steady pace. According to CareerBuilder’s midyear forecast, 44 percent of employers plan to hire full-time, permanent employees over the next six months, on par with last year. This hiring won’t be limited just to one area; you will see it across regions, industries and businesses of all sizes. Each month we see year-over-year growth in job listings on CareerBuilder.com, another sign that businesses are feeling more confident about expanding their staff.

Temporary and contract hiring remain strong
Coming out of the recession, employers have been trending toward a more flexible workforce, one that allows them to scale up and down quickly as staffing needs arise. This has led to temporary and contract jobs becoming a larger part of the general hiring mix.

According to research from Economic Modeling Specialists Intl., temporary work accounted for 15 percent of all job growth nationally over the last four years, even though the industry makes up roughly 2 percent of the nation’s workforce. In larger markets, the share of job growth since 2009 is much higher — more than 40 percent of new jobs in cities such as Chicago, Philadelphia, Kansas City, Cincinnati and Milwaukee can be attributed to temporary work. What’s more, temporary hiring is happening across industries and job functions. Temporary occupations that are growing at an accelerated rate include registered nurse, computer support specialist and accountant and auditor, to name a few.

Over the next six months, there will be a continued boost in temporary hiring activity. Thirty-one percent of employers plan to hire temporary or contract workers, up from 21 percent last year. As employers become more confident that the economy is stabilizing, they’ll likely turn some of their temporary hires into permanent ones. From our surveys, we find that on average, at least one quarter of employees typically convert temporary workers to full-time, permanent employees. Also, the new health-care law created some uncertainty around obligations to full-time employees, and with the employer mandate being pushed back a year, it may potentially cause more employers to move temporary workers into full-time roles. So while we do see temporary hiring as a trend, we also expect to see permanent hiring picking up as well.

Technology a hot area for hiring
While hiring is increasing across industries, certain sectors are playing a larger role in economic growth. One such area is technology. According to IT analyst firm Foote Partners, IT employment in the first half of 2013 is averaging 13,500 new jobs per month.

CareerBuilder’s midyear survey finds that employers will continue to place an emphasis on roles that involve new technologies. Over the next six months, 16 percent of employers plan to hire for jobs tied to mobile technology, as consumers rely more heavily on their devices for both professional and personal use. Another 15 percent of employers plan to recruit for cloud technology-related jobs, as more companies adopt cloud computing as a way to replace computer products with Web-based services, streamlining the way they do business. Also, technology is being used to help businesses manage and interpret big data, and so 12 percent of employers plan to hire for jobs tied to this area.

Another area that employers predict they’ll staff up for in the back half of the year is cybersecurity, with 9 percent planning to hire for this role. As cyberattacks grow in number, and attackers become more sophisticated, demand for cybersecurity trained professionals will continue to increase.

Positive outlook overall
Because some level of economic uncertainty still exists, businesses will remain conservative with their hiring plans this year and won’t be rushing into a full-scale expansion of headcount. However, the overall pace of hiring is stronger today and will continue on a path of gradual improvement for the remainder of 2013 and could lead us to an even stronger 2014.

Matt Ferguson is the CEO of CareerBuilder.

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