Industry Insights

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Job Market Update

October 22, 2008

First of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself - nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.— Franklin D. RooseveltMany people assume that this famous quote from Roosevelt was about World War II. In fact, it was part of his first inaugural address in 1933 and was specifically meant to ease the country’s fears about the worsening economy. Since my last blog entry on the state of the job market for the quantitative business professional in July, there have been dramatic changes in the economic and business climate. It is rare these days that I have a conversation without being asked for my take on how these changes are affecting the current job market and the near-term prospects for job seekers in our industry.Not surprisingly, the drumbeat of negative news about the economy resulting from the meltdown of the financial markets has many people on edge about the stability of their companies and the security of their jobs. As recruiters, we have been paying close attention to every aspect of the current crisis — what I see happening in the quantitative job market is surprising, and should offer my audience relief and even confidence.We are still seeing a healthy amount of hiring and new job openings. Last year was a record year for quantitative recruiters; and this year, even if we have a weaker fourth quarter, we will surpass last year’s numbers.Certainly, the overall unemployment rate has climbed rapidly from 5% this summer to a current rate of 6.1%; the weekly jobless reports are also grimmer, with the number of jobs lost in September nearing 150,000.In the panic of the moment, however, it is important to note that the unemployment rate for college educated professionals is still at very low 2.5% and I strongly believe that for analytics professionals, that number is lower still.While it’s true that this recession is having a negative impact on employment in most disciplines, professionals with backgrounds in data analytics (including statisticians, econometricians, operations researchers, and mathematicians) are continuing to enjoy job security and employment opportunities. Albert Einstein once said: “Try not to become a man of success, but rather to become a man of value.” In uncertain economic times, the best advice we can give to men and women in our field about keeping their jobs secure is to work hard and demonstrate to their employers the value they bring to table. As quantitative professionals, they are uniquely qualified to sift through the mountains of business data necessary to help management develop effective streamlining strategies, a vital tool in this economy. In this case, it is nice to be considered to be among “America’s most wanted”.These are interesting times. In a news cycle full of gloom and doom, I am pleased to report that employment in analytics remains robust, and with no substantial layoffs or hiring freezes in sight. But in this volatile environment, things could be different next week – so stay in touch with your favorite recruiter for the latest updates on the analytical employment market.Follow Burtch Works on Twitter or LinkedIn to get the best quantitative career news and blog updates delivered right to your news feed, and check out our YouTube channel for access to all our latest salary information and webinars!