By Dan Lindley

Gloom and doom seem to be settling over the U.S. economy like dark clouds welling up before a big thunderstorm. But even during the worst of times, some companies flourish. To reassure job-seekers that there are good times even during bad times, Yahoo HotJobs, one of the biggest U.S. employment sites, will roll out HotJobs 100, its list of the 100 HotJobs advertisers posting the most positions on its site.

“We’re seeing a massive amount of negativity among job-seekers about their chances of finding a job in this economy,” said Kevin Krim, VP of product and solutions for HotJobs. “There certainly seems to be some truth in their concerns. But there are still plenty of good jobs out there, and plenty of companies that are hiring.”

The American public does indeed appear to be pessimistic about the economy, based upon a number of recent polls, including Yahoo’s. The company’s internal surveys show that more than three-quarters of American job-seekers said it would be difficult to land their dream jobs. Of those interested in looking for jobs or already looking, two-thirds said they were nervous about their ability to find any job at all. Nevertheless, Krim pointed out, although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has been reporting a steadily rising unemployment rate in recent months, the BLS also reported at the end of June that there were 3.6 million job openings in the nation.

The HotJobs 100, to be released in September, will differ from other indices, including HotJobs’ employment-site rival Monster Worldwide’s monthly Monster Employment Index. The BLS and the Monster Index glean their figures from a wide range of labor-market stats. The HotJobs 100 will use data just from employers who advertise their job opportunities on HotJobs. Even so, Krim said he believed that the list will give readers a good overall idea of who’s hiring and where. “We believe it’s representative,” he said.

The list will boost the reach of top employers who advertise on HotJobs, of course, and also benefit job-seekers who visit HotJobs. There will be no charge for the service, which will benefit HotJobs mainly as a marketing tool. (Display ads will be available on the HotJobs 100 primary pages, however.) The HotJobs 100 will be highlighted in links on the Yahoo home page, the HotJobs home page, and likely on the employment home pages of many of the hundreds of newspapers allied with Yahoo HotJobs via their participation in the Newspaper Consortium. The list will also be publicized via other vehicles, like the MyHotJobs newsletter, a monthly e-mail newsletter that’s free to subscribers who register for it.

The names of the companies in the first HotJobs 100 can’t be released yet because the list is still being compiled, Krim said. But some overall trends have become clear during the list-making. They include a few surprises. Health-care and tech industries reported strong demand for labor, as many respondents in Yahoo’s surveys had surmised. But there were also many jobs available in education, government and sales. That’s because those areas of the economy are less affected by cyclical ups and downs that can hammer or pump up many other sectors, Krim said.

By region, there were some unsuspected success stories too. HotJobs’ five hottest job markets include Atlanta, Dallas, New York, Los Angeles and Houston. The Texas cities were expected to have strong job markets because the high price of oil has boosted the economy of a state that’s home to lots of big energy companies. But New York had been seen as weaker because of chaos in the financial industry, and Atlanta and Los Angeles because of wobbly real estate (and, in LA, to a lesser extent, some lingering problems in the TV and movie industries). New York, Atlanta and L.A., Krim said, have economies that are more diverse than many people realize. So far they have been able to weather what many had thought would become severe downturns.

Job-seekers will be able to click on links to the HotJobs 100 to see all of a particular company’s job postings. The open positions can be broken down further by category or location. Initially, the survey will be released quarterly, though that could change in the future, Krim said.

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