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Bernhart Hiring Report Showing Signs of Bottoming

Press release from the issuing company

Owatonna, MN -- Hundreds of direct marketers, agencies and service providers are offering some new glimmers of hope for direct marketing job seekers, according to the latest Bernhart Associates employment update.

"It appears the direct marketing job market is scraping the bottom,"  said Jerry Bernhart, Principal of Bernhart Associates Executive Search, LLC, a leading direct marketing recruiting firm which has been issuing quarterly direct marketing employment reports
since 2001.  "This is the first quarter in two years in which the hiring index is showing improvement, and planned layoffs are continuing their trend lower,"  said Bernhart.  

According to the survey, 20% of the respondents said they will be adding to staff during the current summer quarter, up from 16% in the spring.   Layoffs declined for the third quarter in a row, with 8% planning to reduce staff compared with 13% last quarter and 20% at the start of 2009.   The number of companies reporting hiring freezes held steady at 30%.

The hiring freeze figure was even higher for agencies, with 44% reporting that they're holding the line on hiring.

Bernhart said responses to the hiring freeze question underscores the prevailing mood of
uncertainty.  "We always ask when they plan to lift their hiring freezes, and the vast majority said they expected those freezes to remain in place through the rest of 2009," said Bernhart.

Bernhart noted that business-to-business direct marketers are faring better overall in the key employment indicators compared with their business-to-consumer counterparts.
For example, when asked if they plan to reduce staff, 13% of business-to-consumer direct marketers said they expect further layoffs this summer compared with 9% among
business-to-business respondents.

Despite the uptick in the survey's overall results, Bernhart foresees no significant comeback in direct marketing hiring until at least 2010.  

"You can't stage a recovery with only one in five direct marketers planning to hire, and one-third of the others holding on to hiring freezes with no plans to lift them until at least the end of the year.  In my conversations with senior level executives, there is no consistent level of optimism in the current economic environment for them to jump into the employment market.   I'm also seeing that same caution in executive search.  Companies are telling us they're thinking about making staffing changes, but they are slow to pull the trigger."

Despite the abundance of job seekers, the survey also shows that filling open direct marketing positions is not always an easy task.  When asked if they were experiencing difficulty hiring new talent, 42% said it was either "very difficult" or "somewhat difficult" to fill certain positions.

When asked what specific positions will be in greatest demand this summer, Bernhart said the list of job categories named was across the board including analytics, sales, creative, technical and marketing.  "There was lots of mention of analytics from agencies, service providers and marketers," said Bernhart.

A record 402 companies responded to the random survey which was emailed the week of June 22.

According to the Direct Marketing Association, marketers - commercial and nonprofit -
spent $176.9 billion on direct marketing in 2008,  which accounted for 52.1 percent of
all ad expenditures in the United States.  Measured against total US sales, these
advertising expenditures generated approximately $2.057 trillion in incremental sales. Last year, direct marketing accounted for approximately 10 percent of total US gross domestic product.  Also, there are today 1.6 million direct marketing employees in the US.   Their collective sales efforts directly support 9.3 million other jobs, accounting for a total of 10.9 million US jobs.

Results of past surveys can be found in the DMA's Statistical Fact Book and on the website of Bernhart Associates Executive Search, LLC.

Companies interested in participating in the Bernhart Associates Quarterly Direct Marketing Employment Report should send an email to [email protected] with "Opt-In" in the subject line, or they can sign up directly on the Bernhart Associates website.