According to Bernhart's latest “Quarterly Digital and Direct Marketing Employment Report,” which projects first quarter 2011 hiring trends, 52% of respondent companies said they plan to add direct and digital marketing staff. That compares with 41% that indicated hiring plans for the fourth quarter of 2010 and 39% in the third quarter.
“I expected a bounce, but nothing like this, which is very encouraging,” said Jerry Bernhart, principal of Bernhart Associates Executive Search, in a statement. “This is the most positive quarterly improvement we've ever seen in the 11-year history of our quarterly survey.”
Just 16% of respondents reported a current hiring freeze, down sharply from the 35% of respondents that had stopped hiring last quarter. Meanwhile, the percentage of companies planning layoffs in the first quarter dropped to 4%, compared with 8% in the fourth quarter of 2010.
Agencies were particularly bullish in their hiring plans: 63% of agencies responding to the survey plan to add staff, with none planning cutbacks and only one agency reporting a hiring freeze.
The Bernhart study was based on an online survey conducted in January, with 400 respondents.