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Job Growth Likely to Remain Steady in U.S. and Abroad

December 12, 2006
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The employment outlook for the first quarter of 2007 reveals stability with expectations of a slight softening in the U.S. job market, while there is optimism for continued growth internationally, according to a report from Manpower.

Some 60 percent of the 14,000 domestic companies surveyed for the study, which was released Tuesday, December 12, say they don’t anticipate a change in the pace of hiring. However, there are subtle signs of a decline in confidence that have crept in during the last two quarters, the report finds.

Four of the 10 industry sectors that were surveyed for the report anticipate weaker hiring. Respondents in the sector of finance/insurance/real estate report the weakest hiring expectations for the first three months of next year— a shift from a strong performance throughout most of 2006.

On average, 23 percent of the respondents expect to add more jobs in the first quarter while 11 percent predict a reduction in staffing levels. Six percent of survey participants did not respond to hiring plans for next year.

“This is by no means a dramatic shift in employer sentiment, but it does indicate that companies are giving more thought to posting help wanted notices,” says Jonas Prising, president of Manpower North America.

He hesitates to categorize the slight softness as a trend, attributing the dip in employment outlook for certain industries as a symptom of coming off a high. “It is just the natural process of leveling off,” Prising says.

Respondents in the education, public administration and the mining industry anticipate a slight bump in hiring. Survey participants in nondurable goods manufacturing, wholesale/retail and services sectors foresee little change in their hiring.

The employment outlook outside of the United States is even more upbeat. Approximately 90 percent of the businesses in countries and territories surveyed anticipate an increase in their workforce during the first quarter of 2007. Some 50,000 public and private employers across 27 countries were interviewed for the survey.

The most optimistic hiring expectations were reported in Peru, Singapore, India, Argentina, South Africa, Costa Rica, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. Though the hiring prospects for Asia Pacific markets are slightly lower than when the survey was last taken three months ago, the general outlook is positive in the region.

Seven of eight countries that were queried in Asia Pacific expect an increase in hiring pace for the first quarter of 2007. Meteoric economic growth in countries like India, China and Thailand is making the outlook rosy.

--Gina Ruiz

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