With a second straight decline in payrolls, it's hard to be optimistic about the jobs picture. But, there are some indications that companies are hiring.
Nearly a third of companies said they were in hiring mode, according to the latest survey by the National Association of Business Economists.
And even more — 39 percent — indicated plans to ramp up hiring in the next six months.
"I think that the big picture is that there is a jobs recovery, there is momentum, but we're at this inflection point where we're just starting to see the gain — just not as fast as we'd like," said Paul Forster, the CEO of Indeed.com, which tracks online-job listings.
Indeed, while the headline number on the government's jobs report showed 131,000 jobs were lost in July, most of that was due to a sharp drop in government payrolls. The private sector actually added 71,000 jobslast month.
So, where are the jobs?
Online-job listings are an interesting way to look at the employment situation because they offer a glimpse of what jobs are being offered BEFORE they become part of the government’s official statistics.
The company describes it this way: “If government data show the job market in the rear-view mirror — jobs that have been created or lost — Indeed’s Industry Trends provide a view through the front windscreen: job openings that companies intend to fill.”
Overall, Indeed says job listings are up 33 percent from a year ago.
There were nearly 700,000 online listings for health-care jobs in July, Indeed reports, with the most listings for medical assistants, dental assistants and — wait for it — phlebotomists. (For those who don't know, a phlebotomist is the person who draws your blood at the doctor's office.)
Retail and technology rounded out the top three, with roughly 300,000 job listings in each category.
Some of those were lower-paying jobs, like customer-service representative, but there were also a significant number of listings for higher paying jobs like managers, analysts and engineers.
Transportation was the fastest-growing category, with job listings doubling in the category from last summer. Among the over 100,000 listings were job openings for everything from delivery drivers and truck drivers to material handlers and dispatchers.
Manufacturing and media hiring also picked up — both were up 40 percent or more.
The transportation and manufacturing improvement highlights the dichotomy going on in the economy right now: While consumers are still jittery, companies are starting to ramp up production in anticipation of a recovery.
Even real estate, that industry we nearly left for dead in the financial crisis, is finally showing signs of improvement: Listings for real-estate jobs were up 8 percent from last summer. It wasn’t so much for real-estate agents as it was for jobs like property manager, mortgage-loan officer and construction inspector. Though, to put it in perspective, there were only 26,000 real-estate jobs listed online, a fraction of some of the larger categories like health care and technology.
The best places to look for jobs in most of these categories were New York, Atlanta and Houston.
And, while hiring typically slows down in August as many people take a final summer vacation, there is one very important thing you should be doing this month if you are unemployed: Networking.
That means if a former co-worker invites you to a barbecue — you go. If your kid gets invited to a pool party — you go.
You work every barbecue, pool party and picnic in town, pros say, because you never know where that next job is going to come from.
Check out more of the Top 10 Job Tips for Those Looking Now.