Survey: Firms to Add Jobs in 3 Months

Tuesday, 13 Mar 2007 | 7:41 AM ET

Twenty-eight percent of companies expect to add new positions in the next three months, according to a survey of 14,000 employers being released Tuesday.

The survey by Milwaukee-based global staffing company Manpower also showed 7% of companies said they expect to reduce employment.

That means some people may have to search longer for work, although the overall labor market is strong, said Jonas Prising, president of Manpower North America.

"On the whole, the labor market seems to be still in good shape, jobs are being created, and wages are rising," Prising said.

The report released Tuesday marks the 13th straight quarter that more than 20% of companies surveyed said they plan to add to their staffs. But, taken with seasonally adjusted numbers, it marks the third straight quarter in which the predicted rate of hiring has fallen.

This quarter, when stripping out seasonal factors and the number of companies that expect to cut jobs, 18% of companies expect to increase hiring, down from 19% in the first three months of the year and 20% in the last quarter of 2006.

The slowdown in hiring indicates employers are being cautious as they anticipate moderate economic growth, Prising said.

"Looking out, they're seeing no great worries or concerns, but on the other hand also no great reasons for jubilation and rampant growth," he said.

Most employers -- 59% -- expect no change in hiring between April and June, while 6% of companies are unsure of their plans, according to the quarterly survey conducted since 1962.

Last quarter, 23% of employers said they planned to increase hiring, while 11% said they planned a decline.

Slowdown in Construction, Finance

The survey shows the biggest slowdowns, in a year-by-year comparison, are expected in construction, mining, finance, retail and durable goods manufacturing.

Thirty-six percent of construction companies expected to increase hiring in the second quarter, compared with 43% in the same period last year, the survey said. Seven percent expected to decrease hiring, compared with 3% last year.

Hiring in transportation, public utilities, education and manufacturing of nondurable goods, like gasoline and food, should be about the same as last year, the survey said.

Manufacturing has been soft for months, Prising said.

"This is not something new. The employment in the manufacturing sector has been suffering and under pressure," he said.

The survey predicted public administration would see stronger hiring this quarter, with 26 percent of employers expecting to hire more workers, compared to 23 percent last year. About the same number -- 4% to 5% -- expect a decrease in hiring compared to last year.

Growth in the South remains strong, with 29% of employers there expecting to increase hiring next quarter, up from 25% last quarter. Six percent expected to decrease, down from 9% last quarter.

The Midwest reported the most conservative hiring plans, with 27% of companies in the region reporting they will hire in the second quarter, up from 20% last quarter. Seven percent of companies this quarter plan fewer additions in the Midwest, down from 12% last quarter.

In the West, 31% of employers said they would increase hiring, up from 28% last quarter. Nine percent of employers said they planned to decrease hiring, down from 12% the previous quarter.

Meanwhile, in the Northeast, 28% of companies said they planned to increase staff, up from 23% last quarter. Eight percent in the region said they plan a decrease, down from 10% last quarter.

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