US jobs outlook improves, Europe’s worsens: Manpower

US jobs outlook improves, Europe’s worsens: Manpower

New York: Job seekers in the United States face better prospects in the coming quarter compared with three months ago, but the hiring outlook has worsened in much of Europe, notably in countries like Ireland and Spain where debt problems have eroded employer confidence.

Of 36 countries and territories included in Manpower Inc’s quarterly poll of hiring intentions, 15 showed improved job prospects for the first quarter, four were unchanged and 17 showed weaker hiring plans than three months ago.

The first-quarter survey paints a picture of a cautious, halting recovery from a protracted slump during which employers cut jobs in almost all the markets that Manpower surveys.

“The global market still has a long way to go as employers are not yet confident enough to hire for permanent positions on any noteworthy scale," Manpower chief executive Jeff Joerres said in a statement.

In the United States, the net employment outlook was a seasonally adjusted plus-9, up from plus-5 in the past two quarters. It was the highest US reading since 2008 and marked five straight quarters of positive hiring outlooks, the global employment services company said.

The net employment outlook -- which subtracts employers who plan to cut jobs from those who plan to add them -- is also above levels of a year ago when more employers predicted cuts. But US employers remain cautious: almost three-quarters of hiring managers indicate no change to their staffing plans.

Manpower interviewed 18,000 US hiring managers for its quarterly survey, a predictor of labor trends that dates back to 1962.

Its survey results follow a much weaker-than-expected US November jobs report, which showed just 39,000 nonfarm payrolls added last month while the unemployment rate rose to 9.8%.

Dynamic Asia, Sluggish Europe

The US results are part of a much wider, global survey, which found that job prospects remain strongest in Asia, while the world’s weakest hiring intentions were in European countries, including those hit by a debt crisis: Greece, Ireland, and Spain.

China’s hiring outlook dipped from last quarter’s reading but remains among the highest in the world, behind only India. Employers in China’s wholesale and retail trade sector are the most optimistic since Manpower started the survey in China in 2003, Manpower said.

Milwaukee-based Manpower has offices in 82 countries and makes the bulk of its sales and profit outside the United States. Manpower’s global survey is based on 64,000 interviews with human resources directors and other managers.

Globally, only four countries -- Greece, South Africa, Austria and Guatemala -- show weaker hiring intentions compared with a year earlier. Greece’s job prospects are the worst in the Manpower survey’s three-year history in that country.

Among other European countries, Belgium, Poland, Austria and Switzerland also showed deteriorating jobs forecasts. Italy and Germany, by contrast, stood out with the strongest quarter-over-quarter increase. German employers’ hiring plans are the strongest in three years, partly reflecting healthy demand for finance professionals and engineers.

In Brazil, where four in ten employers plan to add workers in coming months, the outlook was little changed from the prior quarter. The employment outlook dipped modestly in Mexico but rose in Panama and Argentina.