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Forecasts for 2014 Remain Cautiously Optimistic
 

By Theresa Minton-Eversole  3/14/2014
 
Steady, albeit slow, hiring will continue into the second quarter of 2014, according to several survey reports released earlier this month. The latest forecasts reaffirm the cautious optimism many employers have had since the beginning of the worldwide economic recovery; however, they shed little light on whether there will be any significant breakthroughs in hiring this year.

The latest Manpower Employment Outlook Survey, released March 11 by ManpowerGroup, reveals the largest hiring increases in nearly six years. More than 65,000 hiring managers from 42 countries and territories were polled. Staffing levels are expected to rise in 38 of 42 countries and territories, with improved outlooks quarter over quarter in 26 of those countries and territories.

“There is improvement across industries and across geographies,” said Jeffrey A. Joerres, ManpowerGroup chairman and CEO, in a press statement. “Although the improvement is still very cautious and not as robust as we’ve seen in the past, there are signals that confidence is starting to take hold.”

For example, employers in 20 of 24 countries in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) forecast workforce growth during the next three months, with staffing levels expected to decline in only Italy, the Czech Republic and France.

“The second-quarter survey results don’t point to a definitive turnaround in Europe,” said Jonas Prising, “but there are several indications that employer optimism is gradually improving, especially in a handful of countries where hiring plans remained stubbornly pessimistic in the aftermath of the global recession.”

Organizations in all 10 countries in the Americas report varying degrees of positive hiring activity in the next three months, with U.S. employers expecting a steady pace for the April-June time frame.

“U.S. employers are still guarded when it comes to hiring, although the resolution of the debt-ceiling issue removes some of the uncertainty,” Prising added.

The latest Employment Trends Index (ETI) for the U.S., released by The Conference Board on March 10, increased in February. The index, which aggregates eight labor-market indicators, showed a 4.4 percent gain from a year ago.

“February’s job report and the ongoing improvement in the Employment Trends Index should provide some relief for those concerned about weakness in the U.S. economy and labor market,” predicted Gad Levanon, The Conference Board’s director of macroeconomic research. “The majority of the ETI’s components have been steadily rising in recent months, suggesting solid job growth will continue in the coming months.”

Manufacturers and service-sector companies reportedly will add jobs in March, according to the Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM) Leading Indicators of National Employment (LINE) survey, released March 6, 2014. The LINE examines businesses’ hiring expectations, job vacancies, difficulty in recruiting top-level talent and new-hire compensation, based on a monthly survey of private-sector human resource professionals at more than 500 manufacturing and 500 service-sector companies.

“We are seeing a little bit of a slowdown in March in several areas, though manufacturing and service-sector companies will continue to add jobs,” Jennifer Schramm, GPHR, SHRM manager of workforce trends and forecasting, told SHRM Online.

Job prospects also remain positive across the Asia Pacific region, with outlooks improving in five of the eight countries and territories in a quarter-over-quarter comparison, Manpower reports. The labor market is forecast to strengthen in all countries and territories except Australia when compared year over year.

As hiring is set to rebound in India, competition for talent is likely to prove intense,” ManpowerGroup President Darryl Green said in a press statement. “[D]emand for outsourcing from the U.S. and other countries will boost prospects for individuals with engineering and programming skills.”

But, he added, “Skills shortages continue to frustrate many employers in Japan, especially those in small to medium-size enterprises, who often lose out to larger firms and multinationals in the competition for individuals with valued skill sets.”

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