Employment Outlook Survey Reveals U.S. Employers’ Hiring Plans Remain Guarded Through Year-End

September 13, 2011 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - U.S. employers expect hiring to remain relatively stable in the fourth quarter, according to the latest Manpower Employment Outlook Survey.

According to the seasonally adjusted survey results, the Net Employment Outlook for the fourth quarter 2011 is +7%, up from +6% during the same period last year, and down from the +8% Outlook during the third quarter 2011. While the Outlook is positive overall, and marginally ahead of one year ago at this time, the one point quarter-over-quarter drop is the first decrease, although slight, in nine quarters.


This quarter's survey reveals mixed hiring expectations:

  Softening Outlook in Many Industries: The Outlook is positive overall for 11 of 13 industry sectors surveyed, but employers in 12 of the 13 expect hiring to slow down compared to three months ago. Six industry sectors expect hiring to decrease considerably.

  Most Areas Remain Positive, But Fewer are Improving: Employers in 45 states report positive hiring intentions for the fourth quarter 2011, a slight dip compared to the previous quarter when employers in all 50 states had a positive hiring Outlook. Similarly, 85% of the Metropolitan Statistical Areas surveyed report a positive hiring Outlook for fourth quarter 2011, compared to 99% three months ago.

  Two Years of Positive Employment Growth: Employers have expressed overall optimistic hiring intentions for eight straight quarters, following three quarters of pessimistic employment plans in 2009. The level of optimism however, as evidenced by single digit Net Employment Outlook levels, is reflective of the uncertain environment and remains significantly below pre-recession levels.

"Employers are hesitant to make big decisions when it comes to hiring in the fourth quarter," said Jonas Prising, ManpowerGroup President of the Americas. "Recent economic conditions, coupled with the results of the Manpower Employment Outlook Survey, indicate hiring intentions among U.S. employers remain guarded with a low level of job creation expected in the short term. When all eyes are focused on jobs as a true indicator for economic stability, our survey results suggest no significant hiring increases at least through year end."

Of the more than 18,000 employers surveyed, 16% anticipate an increase in staff levels in their fourth quarter 2011 hiring plans, while 11% expect a decrease in payrolls, resulting in a Net Employment Outlook of +5%. When seasonally adjusted, the Net Employment Outlook becomes +7%. Seventy percent of employers expect no change in their hiring plans. The final 3% of employers indicate they are undecided about their hiring intentions.

"Even though we're seeing a slight slowdown in hiring momentum for the fourth quarter, we know employers are struggling to fill open positions that require specialized and technical skills," said Prising. "This talent mismatch, between the available job candidates and the skills needed for open positions, presents a challenging paradox as we see high unemployment rates along with employers who want to hire but can't find the right person in the right place. This workplace challenge will continue to build when more jobs open up and the economy recovers."

The complete results from the U.S. National Manpower Employment Outlook Survey are available for download at press.manpower.com