The numbers are in and the good news is that employment continued to grow in the U.S. contact center industry during the third and fourth quarters of 2011, extending the industry growth record to 11 consecutive quarters. Employment growth in the second half of 2011 nearly tripled employment growth in the first half.
During the third quarter of last year the industry added 18,965 net new jobs and in the fourth quarter the industry added a net of 13,539 new jobs. Not surprisingly, outsourcers led all vertical markets in both hiring and downsizing as the volatility of the outsourcer market segment often creates wide swings in both expansion and contraction.
In the fourth quarter of 2011, the retail and entertainment segments made significant gains, representing a reversal of fortune for these verticals following deep contractions during the worst of the Great Recession. Insurance and telecommunications also had strong showings in terms of hiring during the fourth quarter.
Financial services led the downsizing categories during both the third and fourth quarters, likely due to the volatility in that market driven by investor uncertainty and world economic conditions. It’s interesting that in terms of companies downsizing headcount, third party outsourcers didn’t make much of an appearance during the fourth quarter. Perhaps this is indicative of some stabilization in that market segment.
The U.S. contact center industry has an employment record that is the envy of just about every other industry in the U.S. Despite the black eye that the industry sometimes has to take from under-informed journalists in various media, the contact center industry has proven it’s resilience in the worst of economic times. We expect to see the U.S. contact center industry continue to strengthen as our economy stabilizes and returns to growth mode. Overall, this is a pretty good industry to be part of.