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The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) produces and publishes the monthly SHRM LINE Report (Leading Indicators of National Employment). Each month SHRM surveys HR professionals at over 500 manufacturing firms, and HR professionals at over 500 service sector firms. Each sector series includes the following metrics: employment expectations, recruiting difficulty, new hire compensation and total vacancies. The SHRM LINE Report is released at 8:30 a.m. EST on the first Thursday of each month, or the day before the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics releases its Employment Situation report.

The monthly SHRM LINE Report features three unique indicators.

Employment expectations: Participating firms report on whether they expect their employment headcount to increase, remain unchanged or decrease in the upcoming month. Since the HR professionals providing these reports are the individuals who must implement any employment changes, their expectations may be a useful indicator of near-term employment change. The employment expectations index in the LINE Report describes the same time period referenced and reported on approximately one month later by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Recruiting difficulty: Participating firms report how difficult it is for them to attract highly qualified applicants to fill key positions compared with the previous month. Both the size and the skill level of the applicant pool affect how difficult it is to find highly qualified applicants. This measure of recruiting difficulty should, therefore, be more sensitive to changing labor market conditions than the unemployment rate which measures only the number of job seekers.

New hire compensation: Changes in labor market conditions should be reflected in the compensation levels needed to recruit new hires before they show up in the all-employee wage data like that collected by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Each month human resources professionals who have signed up to participate in SHRM’s LINE panel are asked to complete an online questionnaire. Respondents are asked to use the pay period that includes the second Tuesday of the month as the reference period. The questions on the survey instrument include the following:

  1. Between [previous month] and [current month], did the number of employees at your firm increase, decrease or remain the same?
  2. Between [previous month] and [current month], did the number of vacancies at your firm increase, decrease or remain the same?
  3. On average, have your new hires in [current month] received a compensation package (wage plus benefits) that is higher, the same, or lower than that received by individuals your firm hired into similar positions during [previous month]?
  4. Compared with [previous month], have labor market conditions during [current month], made it more or less difficult to recruit highly qualified individuals to fill those positions that are of the greatest strategic importance to your firm (i.e., to put "A" candidates into your "A" jobs)?
  5. Between now and [next month], do you expect your employment headcount to increase, remain the same, or decrease?
Each data series uses a nonrandom sample of human resource professionals in more than 500 firms. The manufacturing sample includes firms from 21 sectors of the manufacturing industry. The service sector sample includes firms from over 56 sectors of service sector employment. Data are weighted according to each industry's representation/ratio of U.S. employers.
The SHRM LINE Report is produced by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

Founded in 1948, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is the world’s largest HR membership organization devoted to human resource management. Representing more than 275,000 members in over 160 countries, the Society is the leading provider of resources to serve the needs of HR professionals and advance the professional practice of human resource management. SHRM has more than 575 affiliated chapters within the United States and subsidiary offices in China, India and United Arab Emirates. Visit us at
Some indicators use a net rising index defined as the percentage reporting increases minus the percentage reporting decreases. A diffusion index is the percentage reporting increases plus half the percentage reporting no change. The difference between the two is the format in which the information is presented. It is straightforward to convert from one format to the other. The net rising index is the diffusion index minus its complement (which is 100 minus the diffusion index). For example, a diffusion Index of 55 converts to a net rising index of 10 [55 - (100-55) = 10].
If the companies responding to the SHRM LINE Manufacturing Survey were a random sample from the population of all U.S. manufacturing firms, we could be 90% confident that the sample mean was within plus or minus three percentage points of the population mean. Since the sample was drawn from U.S. manufacturing firms on the SHRM membership list, the differences between the sample mean and the mean for all U.S. manufacturers may be greater than would be expected due to sampling variation alone.
The LINE data are not seasonally adjusted. The LINE series of monthly data points is not yet long enough to calculate seasonal adjustment factors. However, year over year comparisons can be made which are not subject to seasonality. Users are encouraged to look at the indices in the context of the common seasonal changes in employment.
The number of firms in the SHRM LINE sample is favorably comparable to the samples used to calculate other widely watched and highly useful indicators. Nevertheless, SHRM LINE Report readers are cautioned to remember that the data are derived from a limited sample. The SHRM LINE Report is not intended to replace any existing business cycle or employment indicator. It should not be utilized in isolation, but should be interpreted within the context of the large set of economic indicators that are published each month.