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In anticipation of improving business conditions, digital and direct marketing executives continue to lift hiring freezes: 20% say they now have a hiring freeze, down from the 45% who said so six months earlier, while only 3% are planning layoffs in the second quarter of 2010, the lowest level recorded in three years, according to a survey from Bernhart Associates.

Over four in ten execs (43%) say they plan to add digital and direct marketing staff in the second quarter, down 3 points from the 46% who said so in the previous quarter.

"Employers are still being cautious when it comes to making hiring decisions, with half expecting no change in hiring plans for the coming quarter. However, we're seeing more job stability, and employers continue to lift their hiring freezes," said Jerry Bernhart, principal of Bernhart Associates Executive Search, LLC.

For its report, Bernhart surveyed direct marketing executives (online and offline) on general business conditions and hiring plans for the second quarter of 2010.

Some 41% of surveyed execs say they plan to use online social networks "moderately" for hiring, while only 14% say they won't be using social media at all for hiring purposes.

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