A Publication of WTVP

The U.S. Department of Labor reported May 7 that non-farm payroll employment increased by 288,000 in April, following a gain of 337,000 in March. It was the eighth straight month in a row for job gains, with 1.1. million jobs created since August 2003. In addition, the increase in job creation has been widespread, including gains in a multitude of service, construction, and manufacturing industries.

In addition, the economy just experienced a new low in weekly filings of new unemployment claims-315,000. This number is nearly 25 percent lower than from one year ago. Finally, the unemployment rate went down to 5.6 percent for April, the lowest level since November 2001.

So, is it finally here? The lagging job numbers most media outlets were trumpeting just a few short months ago seem to have finally emerged. Many economists are now confirming we're no longer in a "jobless recovery." Of course, they were saying the economy was poised for this more than half a year ago. Good news doesn't seem to be in vogue, however.

One of the reasons economists knew this was coming was due to one of America's leading economic indicators: staffing companies. Good news for staffing industry employment is good news for traditional employment. That's why most economists believe the recession ended in early 2002, when the staffing slump bottomed out and growth emerged. Staffing industry employment first increased from March to July 2002. The fourth quarter of 2002 was the beginning of a string of positive quarters for the staffing industry that continues today.

We all know what this means to traditional employment. Staffing firms create jobs by allowing companies the flexibility they need to meet increased demand until they're confident enough to add to their own workforces. In other words, staffing industry employment is leading traditional employment.

In another, less used staffing indicator, a recent survey of 229 executive recruiters revealed search professionals are more confident about the employment market's potential. A majority of recruiters (70 percent) report business conditions in the executive search industry have improved in the past 30 days. Looking ahead, the industry is expecting an 18 percent increase in the number of search assignments they receive from clients over the next six months, up from 17 percent last month.

The number of recruiters confident or very confident the executive employment market will improve in the next six months increased to 63 percent in April from 57 percent last month. Their short-term outlook is also improving, as 43 percent are confident or very confident the market will get better in the three months ahead, up from 38 percent in March. The survey expects the same in the months ahead, with more companies expected to be hiring to meet increased demand.

To compensate for the increased demand, 43 percent of search firms also have plans to hire additional professional staff in the next three months. That's up from 40 percent in March. During the last three months, 23 percent of search firms have added professional staff. So, spread the news-the good economy is here. IBI