A slight surge in mid-to-upper level managerial hiring has leveled off, according to a survey of 536 executives by Cleveland-based Management Recruiters International Inc. (MRI). Of those surveyed, 37.2% plan to hire such employees this year, down eight percentage points from the first half of 2003. Another 55.1% plan to maintain current staff sizes, up by 6.2 percentage points, and 7.9% plan to decrease staff, up by two percentage points. "Even though there's been a dip in the number of employers planning on new hires, the number of those who are planning to increase their staffs is still relatively strong," says MRI president and CEO Allen Salikof. "We're hearing, for example, that in spite of the still-struggling economy, some of our clients are expanding their businesses by going after new markets and launching new products, activities that suggest optimism and stimulate hiring." By sector, manufacturing's (excluding consumer goods and pharmaceuticals) hiring rate is 36.6%, equal with health care. Finance and engineering hiring is at 40% and 40.5% respectively.