Compiled By Tonya Vinas Demand for executives shrunk 22% in 2001, according to an index maintained by online career services company ExecuNet. After climbing 1% in the first quarter of 2001, demand for executive talent dropped 20% in the second quarter, 27% in the third quarter and 38% in the fourth quarter, when compared with each quarter of 2000 using the Executive Talent Demand Index. The company has been compiling the index based on its business transactions and inquiries since 1997. ExecuNet CEO and founder Dave Opton took a positive approach to the drop in demand. "The executive employment market steadily contracted throughout the year as companies grew increasingly concerned with the state of the economy," Opton says. "This contraction provides organizations with an excellent opportunity to recruit proven executives without having to engage in the heated bidding wars that were common just 18 months ago." Demand for executives in the pharmaceuticals/healthcare/biotech industry remained strong throughout the year, increasing 29% when compared with 2000. No other sector posted an increase in executive demand. In the consumer/industrial manufacturing and financial services industries, demand slipped 3% and 7% respectively. All other industries posted double-digit decreases in demand, including business services (-19%), natural resources/base materials (-20%), retail (-24%), media/creative/publishing (-41%), and high-tech (-42%). Demand for executives at all salary levels was down in 2001. For executives earning $100,000 to $149,000, demand fell 22%. Demand for those earning $150,00 to $199,000 and $200,000 to $249,000 dropped 23% and 21% respectively. Executives earning $250,000 or more faced the smallest drop in demand, down 15% during the year.