Goldman Sachs Expects to Raise Head Count this Year

Goldman Sachs Group, a barometer of Wall Street's health, said it expects its head count to increase in the high single-digits in 2007.

That's within the range of previous years, a Goldman Sachs spokesman said.

Investors are keeping a sharp eye on the hiring trends of Wall Street investment banks to see if there's any indication of a slowdown from record-setting profits.

"Goldman is always a good indicator of what's going on," said Brian Drum, president of executive search firm Drum Associates. "These large companies have tons and tons of openings. I'm not sold there's going to be a recession."

The BreakingViews column in Friday's Wall Street Journal said Goldman is taking a "pause" on hiring that goes beyond the usual season summer slowdown.

In general, Wall Street recruiters say there are soft spots for hiring, but point to a scarce supply of middle managers and risk containment specialists, for example. In addition, the private equity and investment bank operations of Wall Street companies remain strong as global deal-making activity continues at a torrid pace.

"We are continuing to recruit laterally and at colleges and universities," Goldman Sachs said in a statement. "We expect to grow this year in the high single-digits. However, as with all expenses, we continually monitor hiring to ensure it is both prudent and appropriate."

Goldman reported a head count of 26,467 employees in its annual report for 2006, with 42% outside the United States.

Merrill Lynch , the world's largest brokerage, also said there's no change in the hiring practices
of recent years.

"Merrill Lynch has selectively hired on an opportunistic basis in its strategy to strengthen areas of the firm, and continues to do so," the company said in a statement.

John Carter, a vice president at New York fixed-income recruiter Hagan-Ricci Group, said while some companies continue to grow this year, others have been hit hard by the woes in the subprime mortgage market.

"There's no question firms that were out there in risk-taking mode have changed" their hiring patterns, Carter said.