It will take more than a fuel crisis or rising interest rates to stop U.S. employers from pushing ahead with their hiring plans. The latest quarterly survey by employment specialist Manpower Inc. showed that despite a somewhat gloomy outlook, 28 percent of companies intended to add to their workforce during the last three months of the year. "Even the economic pressures of 2006 ... were not enough to rattle employer confidence," says Jeffrey A. Joerres, chairman and CEO of Manpower Inc.
Reports from around the country indicate that logistics and transportationrelated hiring is driving much of the job growth. In Joliet, Ill., for example, demand for logistics-related jobs is coming to a boil. "Most of our hiring right now is in the logistics and transportation industry," says Suzanne Cosme, branch manager of Manpower's office in Joliet, which is located southwest of Chicago. "We're a hotbed of activity."
Some of the demand can be traced to the opening of the CenterPoint Intermodal Center in nearby Elwood, Ill. But Cosme says that's only part of the story. In the past few years, she says, a number of companies have opened sizeable DCs in the area, causing a spike in demand for forklift drivers, pickers and packers, supervisors, office staff and customer service personnel. "It's changing the face of Will County," she says, "going from a manufacturing-based environment to transportation and logistics."
Getting better all the time
Don Jacobson, a senior partner at LogiPros, a recruiting firm that specializes in the placement of logistics management personnel, says his company has never been busier. He says some of the activity has been fueled by the opening of new DCs, but a lot of it simply reflects pent-up demand.
"Every month I see itgetting better and better," says Jacobson. "This time of year, once the budgets are [approved], people want to fill slots. I think that for so long everyone has been so lean and mean and operating at bare bones [staffing levels] that any kind of uptick in business has created a need for people."
Jacobson—who will attend this month's conference of the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals with the goal of recruiting candidates for his clients—says the demand is coming from all sectors and regions. He adds that he's starting to see a return to some of the job jockeying that was commonplace before the terrorist attacks of 2001. "People had been sitting tight and there wasn't as much movement," says Jacobson. "Now people are being more open minded and listening to an opportunity if one is out there."
Colleges and universities report that the employment outlook is good for students in their logistics programs. Whether they're undergrads or students earning their masters' or doctors' degrees, says John Langley of the Georgia Institute of Technology, "they're coming out into a pretty good job market."