Wednesday, January 7, 2009

2009 Employment Outlook: Gut Check for Job Seekers

by John Rossheim
Monster Senior Contributing Writer
2009 Employment Outlook: Gut Check for Job Seekers

Make no mistake: 2009 will not be kind to job seekers, no matter why they’re looking. But for those searching because they’ve lost a job, the second year of one of America’s deepest post-war recessions will be downright cruel.

With a nasty feedback loop forcing up home foreclosures and unemployment in tandem, millions more Americans are likely to lose their jobs before the carnage stops. Unemployment is projected to reach 8.5 percent by late 2009, according to a report from UCLA’s Anderson School of Management.

Indiana University economist Bill Witte sees a similarly grim picture. “An unemployment peak of around 8 percent is likely,” he says. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see a number over 9 percent.”

Against this backdrop, one statistic might seem like good news: There were 3.05 million job openings in October 2008, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But that’s down nearly 1 million openings from the 4.04 million reported a year earlier. And many of the jobs counted as open won’t be filled in the foreseeable future.

Some staffing firms are keeping a stiff upper lip. Manpower’s Employment Outlook survey says that employers in eight of 13 industry sectors plan to increase staffing levels in the first quarter of 2009, whereas 67 percent plan to hold the line.

But many employers are planning to cut their workforces as their businesses shrink. Just over one-third of employers expect to reduce headcount in 2009, according to a survey conducted by Mercer in early November 2008.

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