Strong Job Growth In India, US; Weak Outlook For Europe

Prospects for job growth in early 2006 are strong in India, New Zealand, Taiwan, U.S. and Australia, but weak in most of Europe, according to The Manpower Employment Outlook Survey released Dec. 13. The survey by the Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based employment group, based on more than 45,000 employees worldwide, showed 19 of 23 countries reported positive hiring outlooks for the quarter ahead. But 11 of 23 were weaker compared to last year at this time and most of the lower outlooks are from European employers.

"First-quarter hiring across the European labor markets we survey is typically soft, but this year it appears more pervasive, with only UK employers looking to accelerate hiring from the fourth quarter," says Jeffrey Joerres, CEO of Manpower Inc. "A number of labor markets in this region are currently experiencing challenging political, social and economic conditions and this is clearly having an impact on businesses' willingness and/or ability to add to their work forces. For now, at least, companies are going to continue to be cautious."

In the Americas, slightly slower hiring is expected in six of 10 U.S. industry sectors in the first quarter, but the overall outlook for the U.S. is strong. Canadian employers also expect a healthy hiring pace but just slightly below the rate reported in the previous year.

"Employers [in the U.S.] are most upbeat about hiring in the construction sector where the adjusted data shows the strongest outlook in 27 years. Slightly weaker but solid hiring expectations are also expected in the U.S. manufacturing and services sectors," says Joerres.

Among the 12 countries surveyed in Europe, employment prospects were strongest in Britain, Ireland, Norway, Belgium and Spain. Hiring expectations for Sweden and France in the first quarter of 2006 were the weakest since the third quarter of 2003. But hiring in Asia Pacific remains strong. Positive outlooks come from companies in India, New Zealand, Taiwan, Australia, Hong Kong, China and Japan.

"Hiring expectations in India continue to be strongest in the finance, insurance, real estate and services industry sectors," said Joerres.

"However, Indian employers are decidedly more uncertain about hiring as the data shows a 14% increase from fourth quarter in the number employers who don't know whether they'll add employees during the next three months."

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2005

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