As the Economy Recovers...Who Will Hire First?

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hiringIn late August, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke described the economy as ready to grow again, according to Boston Globe article, "Bernanke Says Economy Is On the Verge of Recovery." This is great news, but economic recovery tends to be a bumpy process. Which industries will be first to ramp up hiring again? To find out, we spoke with business-management professor Laurence Stybel of Sawyer School of Business in Boston, and job-search expert Ford Myers, author of Get The Job You Want, Even When No One's Hiring.


Industries that have kept hiring right through the recession are prime candidates to increase hiring once the economy turns positive. A study by the job-board network Beyond.com showed information technology and healthcare were the biggest sectors still hiring in the second quarter of 2009.

Though it's stayed stronger than some fields, tech hiring is still poised to explode as the economy improves, Myers says. That's because so much tech spending has been postponed by companies waiting for business to improve.

"Companies are holding their tech functions together with scotch tape and bubblegum at this point," Myers says. "As soon as there's some evidence of improvement in the economy, they're going to act on this pent-up demand and it'll release like a tidal wave."

Myers expects to see job needs across the technology sector early on as a result, in everything from hardware and software sales to infrastructure and network installation.

Once the question of federal healthcare reform is sorted out, expect healthcare hiring to really take off again, says Myers. Insurers and healthcare providers are holding off on some expenditures until they know how healthcare reform might affect their plans. Then, expect strong demand for nurses – particularly those with experience in geriatrics – imaging technicians and lab technicians.

"Healthcare will continue to grow because it has to," he says. "The population keeps aging, so it's simple demographics." Where else will we see the first welling up of the recovery hiring wave? In general, look to jobs that are essential to grow sales or keep businesses efficient.

"Employers are going to ask you how you will help the business become more profitable and successful," Myers says.


1. Industrial Sales

As Myers puts it, "Nobody works until somebody sells something." Companies like to hire sales staff first in part because they often come with less up-front cost, as many salespeople work on commission.

Stybel expects to see the early sales hires in industrial and manufacturing companies that make components for consumer goods that are popular in Asia, such as oil, iron and lumber. Because economic turmoil can foment rebellion, China's government has taken steps to keep the economy there moving, Stybel notes. As raw materials begin to roll, American durable goods manufacturers with substantial overseas sales – think John Deere or International Harvester – will seek sales staffs next.

"The American consumer is not going to be the consumer driving this recovery," Stybel says.

Sales Representative, Wholesale and Manufacturing: $50,025


2. Government

While some may decry soaring national debts, one thing's for sure: More government spending usually means more government jobs. Track new spending initiatives to get a sense of which government agencies might be staffing up as they implement new programs.

"In the depths of the Great Depression," Myers notes, "there was no depression in Washington, D.C."

Manager, Government Program: $81,748


3. Accounting

Many companies slashed finance departments to save payroll during the downturn, Myers says. As companies seek to grow again, they'll need to add accountants and other finance professionals to make sure the company continues to operate efficiently as it expands.

Accountant: $48,618


4. Green jobs

Federal funding and growing national interest in clean energy mean we'll see steady growth in green jobs as the economy improves, says Myers. Among the jobs expected to be in demand are weatherization installers, wind-turbine and solar-panel installers, and engineers to design new energy systems.

Solar Energy System Installer: $44,556 plus bonus


Next: Top 10 Companies Hiring This Week >>


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Source: All salary data is from PayScale.com. The salaries listed are median, annual salaries for full-time workers with 5-8 years of experience and, except for solar energy system installer, include any bonuses, commissions or profit sharing.

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