Overall U.S. employment growth continued to expand in March for both the manufacturing and service sectors, and hiring expectations for the next 30 days remain strong. The employment increase is partially attributable to typical seasonal hiring, however, the manufacturing growth is stronger than this time last year, and data indicates April employment growth for both sectors to be even greater than March. The findings are reported in March's Leading Indicator of National Employment (LINE), a collaborative effort between the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and the Rutgers University School of Management and Labor Relations.
            SHRM/
           Rutgers   Total      Total  Recruiting    New hire    Employment
            LINE  employment vacancies difficulty  compensation expectations

  Manufacturing

   Mar 05   60.1      58.7      66.6      57.1         53.7         71.4
   Jan 06   57.7      54.9      61.5      58.5         56.5         70.7
   Feb 06   63.2      62.4      68.1      61.7         55.0         73.2
   Mar 06   64.0      62.8      68.2      64.7         55.5         74.3

  Service Sector

   Mar 05      -         -         -         -            -            -
   Jan 06   54.4      51.3      58.7      54.0         55.7         67.5
   Feb 06   59.1      59.9      56.6      54.2         56.2         64.7
   Mar 06   58.5      56.4      61.7      55.0         53.9         76.5

LINE is an economic indicator that identifies early economic trends and changes in the national job market by surveying human resource executives at manufacturing and service sector firms. It reports on five employment measures, three of which are unique to LINE. An index value above 50 indicates employment is growing, while an index below 50 shows that employment is contracting. For a full copy of the report and a detailed description of each component, go to http://www.shrm.org/LINE.

Manufacturing

Overall manufacturing employment continues to expand, and nearly 58 percent of respondents plan to recruit employees in the coming 30 days; this is the highest level for the employment expectations index since February 2004. This demand for manufacturing employees is increasing the number of open positions that employers are already unable to fill with skilled workers. The number of unfilled openings is increasing among both exempt and non-exempt positions. This is seen in LINE's recruitment difficulty index, which is also at its highest level in over two years.

Service

While overall service sector employment dipped slightly in March, total vacancies and employment expectations rose sharply. The jump in vacant positions was for exempt, or salaried, workers. In addition, nearly 58 percent of employers have plans to hire in the coming 30 days. Employers are finding it increasingly difficulty to recruit skilled workers; however, there appears to be little pressure yet to increase new-hire compensation.

The SHRM/Rutgers LINE data are collected through a survey of HR executives at more than 500 manufacturing and 500 service sector firms. The SHRM/Rutgers LINE is a weighted average of five component indexes: employment, vacancies, recruiting difficulty, new-hire compensation and employment expectations. All data are reported using diffusion indexes. A copy of the March report and answers to frequently asked questions can be found at http://www.shrm.org/LINE.

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is the world's largest association devoted to human resource management. Representing more than 200,000 individual members, the society's mission is both to serve HR management professionals and to advance the profession. Founded in 1948, SHRM currently has more than 500 affiliated chapters within the United States and members in more than 100 countries.

The School of Management and Labor Relations at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, is a leading center of scholarly and applied research on human resource management issues. The school creates and disseminates knowledge that fosters a better understanding of the nature of employment and work in modern society. The Rutgers Master of Human Resource Management degree is one of the top human resource management programs in the nation.