Employment is Stable in France, Germany, But Weak in U.S. and U.K.

Sept. 9, 2008
Most favorable Q4 hiring will be in India, Costa Rica, Peru, Singapore, Taiwan, Colombia, Romania, Poland, Argentina, Australia and South Africa.

Job seekers can expect a slower fourth-quarter hiring pace in the majority of the world's labor markets, according to the Manpower Employment Outlook Survey of global hiring trends released on Sept. 9. Employers in Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, Canada, France, Germany and Sweden indicate that hiring will be steady in the next three months.

"The recent downturn is weighing on the minds of employers. They are not conducting widespread layoffs across all industry sectors, which is encouraging; yet, we are not seeing much appetite to add staff either," said Jeffrey A. Joerres, CEO of Manpower Inc. Some key markets, such as the U.S., U.K. and Spain are clearly struggling to gain traction in the current downturn, while others, such as France and Germany, appear to be holding their own. In the coming months we will continue to see employers around the globe making do with the people they have, finding ways to contain costs and being very cautious about hiring decisions."

The survey data reveals that the most favorable fourth-quarter hiring plans globally are reported by employers in India, Costa Rica, Peru, Singapore, Taiwan, Colombia, Romania, Poland, Argentina, Australia and South Africa. Conversely, employers in Spain, Ireland and Italy are reporting the weakest and only negative hiring expectations for the quarter ahead.

It would appear that the growing pessimism seen in the U.S. market over the past two quarters has moved eastward into Asia Pacific as employers in the region have become notably more conservative in their hiring plans. While outlooks remain positive, employers across all of the eight countries and territories surveyed expect to pull back on hiring from the third quarter. On the other hand, compared to one year ago, the pace of hiring is expected to improve in India and Taiwan, and remain relatively stable in China.

Hiring expectations in the Americas region is expected to be strongest in Peru, Costa Rica and Colombia. On the other hand, employers in the U.S. and Guatemala are the least optimistic about adding employees in the quarter ahead.

"The U.S. labor market is expected to lose more momentum with employers telling us they will hire at the slowest pace in five years. Waning consumer confidence is also contributing to weaker demand by employers in the Wholesale/Retail Trade sector where hiring expectations are at a 17-year low," said Joerres. "While fourth-quarter is a traditionally slower hiring period in many markets as employers budget for the upcoming year, hiring in the Retail sector is typically stronger due to the holiday season. This weaker employer confidence is particularly alarming, as it could indicate a less than Merry Christmas for job seekers. Meanwhile, south of the border Mexican hiring intentions -- while still healthy -- signal the first contraction of strong employer hiring patterns in four years."

Across the 17 countries surveyed in the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region, employers in Romania, Poland, South Africa, Greece, Netherlands, Norway and Sweden are most optimistic about hiring in the next three months while Spanish, Italian and Irish employers are the least optimistic. Hiring in the region is generally expected to be softer with employers in 12 of 17 countries expecting to hire at a slower pace compared to three months ago. Notably, employer hiring plans in Spain are at a five-year low.

"Our data indicates weaker job prospects in the Finance and Business Services sector across Europe and this is most apparent in the U.K., where employers are reporting the weakest job prospects in this sector since 1999 and the least optimistic national forecast in 14 years," said Joerres. "Interestingly, hiring sentiments have improved from three months ago in the Manufacturing sector in Austria, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland, which is helping to bolster the outlooks for these countries. In fact, the national outlook from Dutch employers is the most optimistic since the survey was established there in 2003."

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