Manpower Survey Shows Employers Cautious About Hiring in Q3

June 17, 2003 ( - Despite early indications that the bears may go into hibernation and the market might turn around, United States employers remain cautious in their hiring intentions for the third quarter.

Manpower Inc’s quarterly Employment Outlook Survey of 16,000 companies found US employers’ hiring plans are the lowest in 12 years. In fact, only one out of five (20%) said they plan to add workers during July to September 2003, down from 22% last quarter and 27% the previous year (See Q3 Hiring On The Mend) .

Seasonally adjusted, the findings reflect a 6%-increase in hiring activity compared with the first half of the year. This differential between the percentage of companies planning to add and those expecting to cut staff is the smallest since the second quarter of 1991.

Further, the vast majority of employers (65%) expect no change in hiring, while 9% expect a decrease in job prospects and 6% are uncertain of their employment plans. However, Manpower cautions that polling data may be skewed since the survey was taken April 2 to 8, in the days just before the fall of Baghdad and during the height of concern about severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), suggesting hiring plans may be approaching a nadir.

“For that reason, we could find that hiring activity is slightly more positive in the upcoming quarter than survey results are indicating, as employers see progress in the resolution of these issues,” said Manpower Chairman and CEO Jeffery Joerres.

Industry Outlook

Employers in five of the 10 industry sectors estimate that their third-quarter hiring activity will be the softest it has been in more than a decade, including Construction, Wholesale & Retail Trade, Education, Services and Public Administration. Overall though, state and local budget deficits are causing employers in education and public administration to be the most pessimistic, with readings of negative 4% and negative 3%, respectively, signaling a greater percentage of those employers are planning to fire workers than take on additional staff in the third quarter.

Conversely, mining, the only industry to show an improvement in hiring intentions from the previous quarter and from the same period last year, along with Finance/Insurance/Real Estate were the most optimistic employers, both with an 11%-advantage of employers planning to hire workers than fire. In fact, the mining industry’s job outlook for the coming quarter is the most optimistic it has been since the final period of 2001.

Other hiring forecasts for the third quarter include:

  • Wholesale & Retail (10%)
  • Services (7%)
  • Manufacturing – Non-Durables (7%)
  • Manufacturing – Durables (6%)
  • Construction (6%)
  • Transportation & Public Utilities (5%)

For more information or to obtain the full report, visit Manpower’s Web site at .