U.S. Employers Still Cautious on Hiring: Manpower

U.S. employers are still taking a wait-and-see approach to adding jobs, according to a Manpower survey released Tuesday.

The poll of 14,000 employers found the net employment outlook -- a measure of the difference between those adding jobs and those cutting them -- was flat for the third quarter, after falling for three consecutive quarters. The seasonally adjusted level of 18 compares with a reading of 21 a year ago, Manpower reported.

The index dipped into negative territory during the 1991 and 2002 recessions and has risen into the mid-20s during periods of prosperity.

While most industries reported steady demand for workers, some employers are losing confidence about hiring. Three such sectors were construction; wholesale and retail trade; and finance, insurance and real estate.

"The moderate decline in these industry sectors is likely to continue through the next three months," Jonas Prising, president of Manpower North America, said in a statement.

Job prospects are strongest in the West and weakest in the Northeast, Manpower said, with particular softness in manufacturing of nondurable goods.

A separate, international poll, also conducted by Manpower, found hiring prospects in Germany and Norway are the strongest since the survey began in those countries in 2003.

Other European countries showed steady prospects compared with the previous quarter, but employers in Ireland expect to slow hiring, according to survey.

The labor market in the Asia-Pacific region is expected to cool in the third quarter, except in India, where the survey showed rising demand.