Back in March, we noted in a post that garnered some attention from other bloggers that our metric for measuring the level of hiring activity among our customer base (called, unimaginatively, the Hiring Activity index) had edged upwards in the spring, after reaching its nadir in December and January. Although the national employment picture remains ugly, in June we saw the HAI recover to its highest level since before the stock market crash of the fall. In June the HAI was 65.9, and in July it was 66.3, levels not seen since the summer of 08. August saw it dip a little to 62.9. The uptick in hiring activity among our customers, we hope, is another sign of stabilization in the employment picture, at least as far as small and medium-sized businesses are concerned.
Among professional economists, there is a virtual consensus that unemployment will continue to climb well into 2010, and peak at a rate well past 10% sometime next year. My opinion, for what it’s worth, is that the unemployment picture, while still bleak, will not get much worse before it begins to stabilize and, eventually recover. In fact, if the HAI is any indication, small and medium-sized businesses are already beginning to pick up the pace of hiring–let’s hope we see more companies following this example soon.