Demand for executives has come to an abrupt halt, according to the Executive Talent Demand Index, tracked by online executive career service ExecuNet. The index dropped 20% in the second quarter of 2001 compared with the same period last year. "After last year's sensational growth, the executive job market has returned to earth," says David Opton, CEO and founder of ExecuNet, which has been publishing the quarterly reports on executive demand since 1997. "Despite this decrease in demand, companies remain focused on building and maintaining strong management teams." In 2000, demand for executives increased 39% in the first quarter, 38% in the second quarter, 34% in the third quarter, and 37% in the fourth quarter over the same periods in 1999. In the first quarter of this year, executive demand increased a meager 1%. Not surprising, demand for executives at IT companies plummeted, dropping 40% during the second quarter. Also dropping in executive demand were the following industries: media/creative/publishing, down 21%; business services, down 19%; natural resources/base materials, down 17%; retail, down 2%; consumer industrial/manufacturing, down 1%. The pharmaceutical/health care/biotech industry posted an increase in executive demand of 23%. Despite the near across-the-board drops, Opton points out that if compared with the same period in 1999, the second quarter of 2001 saw an actual increase of 18% for executive demand.