Latest Job Numbers Don’t Bode Well for Classifieds

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By: Jennifer Saba

The disappointing number of jobs created for the month of February — only 21,000 according to the Labor Department — doesn’t bode well for newspaper help wanted classifieds. Today, Goldman Sachs of New York issued a statement that suggests “near-term trends in help-wanted advertising will likely remain uninspiring. Simply put, there can be no meaningful recovery in help-wanted ad revenues without a sustained rebound in job creation.”

December and January job growth numbers were also revised downward. Despite continued strength in productivity and corporate profitability, corporate management is still cautious about creating new additions to payroll. Experts contend that roughly 200,000 to 300,000 new jobs need to be added per month for sustained growth.

Goldman Sachs estimates that 2003’s help-wanted revenues of $3.9 billion represent the industry’s worst performance in any recent cycle (down sharply from a peak of $8.7 billion in 2000). Help-wanted volumes are near a 41-year low, according to the Conference Board Index.

Even so, Goldman Sachs predicts a 10% growth in help-wanted revenues in 2004, estimating around $4.3 billion for the industry. But the firm notes that in prior recoveries “help-wanted revenues have typically rebounded 20 to 30% in the first year help-wanted growth turned positive.”

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