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Positive Employment Outlook for U.S. Seen for Third Quarter of 2012
 

By SHRM Online staff  6/18/2012

According to the Manpower Employment Outlook Survey of global hiring trends released June 12, 2012, hiring activity is expected to slow from the third quarter of 2011 in two-thirds of the countries and territories surveyed, indicating few clear signs of notable traction in the labor market. However, the research reveals that employers in 33 of 41 countries and territories surveyed expect varying degrees of positive hiring activity for the third quarter of 2012.

Hiring intentions are expected to improve or remain relatively stable in 32 labor markets compared to the second quarter of 2012, while hiring expectations weaken in 26 markets compared to the third quarter of 2011.

Employer hiring plans remain positive across all 10 countries in the Americas. And despite the recent softening in the labor market, U.S employers are expecting positive hiring activity for the third quarter of 2012. Hiring confidence among U.S. employers continues to inch up in all states, regions and industries; the seasonally adjusted survey results show the Net Employment Outlook for the third quarter of 2012 is +11 percent, slightly up from +10 percent during the second quarter of 2012 and +8 percent during the third quarter of 2011.

Double-Digit Breakthrough

Employer confidence for the third quarter of 2012 marks the first double-digit Net Employment Outlook across all four regions of the U.S. since 2008. Ninety-two percent of U.S. companies surveyed expect similar or growing staff levels in the third quarter of 2012, according to the seasonally adjusted data. The continued climb in confidence marks 11 straight quarters of positive overall hiring, which were preceded by three-quarters of pessimistic employment plans, according to report data.

ManpowerGroup’s quarterly Manpower Employment Outlook Survey measures employers’ intentions to increase or decrease the number of employees in their workforce during the next quarter. The Net Employment Outlook is derived by taking the percentage of employers expecting an increase in hiring activity and subtracting from this the percentage of employers expecting a decrease in hiring activity.

In the U.S., the survey is conducted by an independent, third-party research firm and includes a select sample of more than 18,000 employers. This sample represents the top 100 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA) based on business establishment count, the 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. The mix of industries within the survey follows the North American Industry Classification System Supersectors and is structured to be representative of the U.S. economy.

Surveyed employers in all 50 states expect to add staff. With two consecutive quarters of strong results, Alaska remains a leader among the states, with employers reporting a significant increase in hiring intentions since the first quarter of 2012. All 100 MSAs surveyed report positive hiring intentions.

In addition, for the first time since 2008, the survey shows two consecutive quarters of positive outlooks in all industries across all four regions surveyed.

“In our on-demand world, seeing long-term changes can be difficult, but it is important to keep in mind that employer confidence has been on an upward trajectory for three years,” said Jonas Prising, ManpowerGroup president of the Americas, in a statement about the latest outlook findings. “While slow and sometimes frustrating, job growth has proven to be sustainable, and the data show a solid foundation is in place for continued progress.”

Of the more than 18,000 U.S. employers surveyed, 21 percent expect to increase in staff levels in their third quarter, while 6 percent expect a decrease in payrolls. Seventy-one percent of employers expect no change in their hiring plans; 2 percent of employers indicate they are undecided about their hiring intentions.

“This recovery continues to progress slowly, and we need more focus on structural challenges in the labor market in order to drive hiring acceleration in the future,” said Prising. “Talent mismatch is a top concern, with half of U.S. employers struggling to find the right people with the right skills for their businesses. The key to solving this mismatch is to create solid partnerships between business leaders and the colleges, vocational institutions and high schools in their markets so job seekers can learn the relevant skills necessary for employment success.”

Industry, Regional Hiring

U.S. employers have a positive third-quarter hiring outlook in all of the 13 industry sectors included in the survey. When the industry sector data is compared quarter over quarter, employers in the wholesale and retail trade sector expect a moderate hiring increase. The hiring pace is expected to slightly increase among employers in seven other industry sectors—construction, information, financial activities, professional and business services, leisure and hospitality, other services and government. Employers in the durable and nondurable goods manufacturing, transportation and utilities, and education and health services sectors expect a relatively stable hiring pace, while employers in the mining sector expect the hiring pace to slightly decline quarter over quarter.

A positive Net Employment Outlook is reported in all four U.S. regions. Quarter over quarter, plans to add employees are slightly up among employers in the South and remain essentially the same among employers in the Northeast, Midwest and West. Compared to the same time in 2011, employers in the Midwest, South and West regions project a slight increase in hiring for the third quarter, and employers in the Northeast region expect a relatively stable hiring environment.

The complete report for the U.S. National Manpower Employment Outlook Survey includes results for the 100 MSAs, 50 states, D.C. and Puerto Rico.

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