When Fall Fashion Week rolled out in New York in February, many
designers were reversing course on their hem lengths-and not always
in the same direction. While there were not many mini-skirts, there
also were fewer of the full-length gowns than were seen last
season. Some designers-most notably Alexander Wang-chose to go with
several seemingly low hemlines, but then introduced soaring slits
and gaps causing them to almost defy hemline definition.

The hemline index as calculated by Business
-yes it is a real index-rose to 44.38 from 35.04 last
season. In a time when economic indicators are as plentiful as they
are mixed, it may be one of the most apt indicators of the time.
Lore says when the economy is good, hemlines rise and when soured,
the hemlines fall. While hemlines seem to be going in many
directions at once this season, the average is rising-much like the
U.S. economy.???

While the economy gains speed, workforce managers are feeling
the pinch of a tightening talent market. A recent Corporate
Executive Board study showed the average number of applications
received per position fell to 118 from 187 one year earlier. Of
those applications, respondents to the study said just one-third
met the basic requirements for the position they were applying

Late last year, a survey of C-Level executives around the world
by Lloyd’s of London ranked talent and skills shortages as the
second-largest risk to their business. In 2009, talent worries were
ranked as just the 22nd largest concern.

“The scales of the labor market have clearly shifted over the
last six-to-twelve months, and now we are seeing that accelerating
in the professional ranks,” says Rob Romaine, president
ofMRINetwork. “Top talent is no longer looking at a stable job and
saying, ‘I’m happy to at least have that.’ Rather, they are opening
up when recruiters call and are starting to explore what will
really make them happy-financially or otherwise.”

Since early in 2010, the number of people who voluntarily left a
position each month has been steadily rising to nearly 2 million,
up more than 30 percent from its lows. 

“Having employees more interested in pursuing new opportunities
is a double-edged sword for organizations,” says Romaine. “It’s
going to be hard not to lose some top performers, as they will
likely have the most opportunities presented to them. But while the
field of top performers who are actively applying for positions is
still very low, the numbers who are open to recruiting calls now is
above average.”

During the years of tough economic times, the fear of the
unknown was enough to keep many top performers in place. Although
recent positive employment and economic news has not removed the
possibility of another slowdown, it has given the workforce enough
confidence to accept the risk associated with changing jobs.

“The economy will continue to be in a fragile place for much of
the near future, with profit margins closely guarded and customers
highly cost-conscious. Losing key staff or having
continuity-of-services issues in this stage of a recovery will be
damaging,” notes Romaine. “On the other hand, the worst possible
outcome of bringing in top talent right now is that they will take
pressure off existing staff, decrease turnover, and put a company
in a powerful position to capture market share.”



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