Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Statistics Show Steady Climb in White-Collar Hiring

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Statistics Show Steady Climb in White-Collar Hiring

Article excerpt

By Steven Greenhouse

N.Y. Times News Service

WASHINGTON _ While many Americans believe that most new jobs are going to hamburger flippers and Wal-Mart clerks, the reality is surprisingly different: more than three-fifths of the new jobs created over the last year have gone to managers and professionals.

As thousands of former middle managers at IBM, General Motors Corp. and other corporate giants can attest, white-collar workers were hit especially hard in the recent recession. But government statistics now show a steady climb in the hiring of white-collar workers.

Even though managers and professionals like physicians and accountants make up only 27 percent of the American workforce, they have landed more than 60 percent of the 2.2 million net new jobs created over the last year. At the same time, the hiring of blue-collar employees has been largely stagnant.

The way economists and corporate executives put it, so many companies squeezed out so many managers during the recent slump that as the economy _ and corporate America _ expanded over the last year, the demand for managers rebounded.

"Because of the recession, there was pent-up demand for managers," said Patrick Pittard, managing partner of Heidrick Struggles, one of the nation's largest executive search firms. "Many companies that did without executives for a year or two couldn't stand it any more. They had to fill that slot they left unfilled for so long."

Labor Secretary Robert B. Reich said this pickup in white-collar hiring pointed to profound economic changes that bode ill for unskilled workers, because such a high percentage of new jobs require college degrees, MBAs or other sophisticated training.

"The recent recession had unusually high levels of unemployment for white-collar workers," Reich said. "But white-collar jobs are coming back. Long-term demand is shifting in favor of people with greater skills."

Typical of this trend is what is happening at Wachovia Corp., a bank-holding company in Winston-Salem, N.C. It has hired 250 management trainees over the last year and plans to hire another 250 next year, even as it lays off some tellers and data processing personnel whose work has been automated.

Kenneth Torreyson, Wachovia's director of human resources, said many trainees were being hired to work on mutual funds and information systems. He said his company was adding these trainees because "it looks like a few years out things will get a lot better."

He added, "In the last part of the decade and the first 10 years of the new century, this country should be doing pretty well."

Even though white-collar hiring is one of the few bright spots in the employment picture, it is not chugging along as fast as in previous recoveries. For example, in the 31 months since the 1990-91 recession ended, the number of whitecollar jobs _ including not just professionals and managers but also some sales, technical and administrative people _ has grown by 3. …

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