Is the Recession Over? If Advertising Jobs Are Any Guide, the Answer's Yes

Last Updated Apr 1, 2010 1:38 AM EDT

Four recent events mean that -- fingers crossed! -- it's time to retire the BNET Ad Agency Layoff Counter, which since January 2009 has been the industry's unofficial misery index of the advertising business. This means that, in terms of jobs, the recession could be at an end. Those four events are:
  1. WPP (WPPGY) CEO Martin Sorrell says his ad agency holding company is hiring again after axing 14,000 jobs.
  2. Interpublic (IPG)'s R/GA interactive agency has hired 176 staffers since the start of the year, and it still has 230 open jobs.
  3. Euro RSCG Life, owned by Havas (HAV), has about 50 vacancies on a semi-permanent rolling basis.
  4. Lastly, there have been virtually no reported layoffs since early February.
The news from WPP is significant because, as the world's largest network of ad agencies, it is a good proxy for the business as a whole. It would be virtually impossible for WPP alone to be experiencing an uptick in fortunes.

R/GA and Euro RSCG are not small shops -- again, if large agencies are an indicator of overall health, then this is a signal that the advertising job market is bouncing back. Advertising is a lagging economic indicator -- it's dependent on the underlying success of the productive economy that supports it -- which means that if the ad biz is stabilizing or even growing then the rest of the economy must be months ahead of it.

Lastly, while BNET's layoff counter was limited by the fact that it relied on public reports of layoffs, it was the only consistently updated list of job losses at specific, named agencies. (AgencySpy's AdAgencyLayoffs Twitter stream was abandoned in November). And as I have not seen a single reported layoff in more than a month, I hereby declare this advertising recession over!