Job Seekers Search Longer in Q1

April 10, 2002 ( - There were more job seekers - and they were looking longer - in the first quarter, according to outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

First-quarter job search times were 50% longer than a year ago, according to the firm. 

Productivity gains encouraged employers to delay hiring, while an increase in the number of job seekers boosted the average search to 3.41 months from 2.27 months in the first quarter of 2001.

Not As Sure?
“Several factors are slowing hiring.  For one, not all employers seem as confident about a recovery as economists and some Wall Street analysts appear to be,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.  “Employers who cut jobs and hours as we entered the recession are likely to just add hours as we come out of the recession, which is supported by the fact that manufacturers reported an increase in overtime hours in March.”

Older workers were faced with an even longer search, according to the Challenger Job Market Index.  Job seekers over 50 took 3.93 months to find a job, a 74% increase from the 2.26 months of a year ago.

Challenger cites data from the the Bureau of Labor Statistics that shows that 16.3% of the 8.1 million unemployed have been actively looking for work for 27 weeks or longer. 

The Challenger Job Market Index is based on a quarterly survey of 3,000 discharged managers and executives from a wide variety of industries throughout the United States.