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August 27, 2002
4Q Hiring Predicted to Remain Unchanged
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Job seekers in the United States can expect little improvement in hiring activity in the fourth quarter of 2002, according to the latest hiring survey conducted by the Milwaukee-based hiring firm Manpower Inc.

"The improvement in planned hiring activity that we saw in the past two quarterly surveys has marginally slowed," said Jeffrey A. Joerres, chairman and CEO of Manpower. "This plateau is not unlike previous recovery periods, where the first few quarters of improvement are followed by a short adjustment phase as employers seek confirmation of a changed business environment."

Of the nearly 16,000 employers interviewed, 24% expect to hire more people during the fourth quarter, compared with 27% in the third quarter of the year, Manpower reports.

Only 9% intend to reduce their workforce compared with 8% in the previous quarter. A steady 62% of companies will maintain their current staff levels and only 5% are uncertain. When the seasonal impact is removed from the data, employment prospects remain at the same level as in the third quarter.

Employers' expectations have improved only slightly from the same quarter of 2001, when 24% expected to hire additional employees, 11% expected to reduce their staff levels, 60% anticipated no changes and 5% were uncertain.

Employment levels will hold steady nationwide, except in the West, where hiring activity will be down slightly from third quarter and last year.

The results by sector:

Mining. Seventeen percent of mining firms plan to hire more people in fourth quarter while 11% intend to decrease their personnel levels. On a seasonally adjusted basis, employment potential is expected to improve 11% from third quarter, but continues to lag the same quarter of 2001 by 12%. Hiring for this sector will be the most favorable in the Northeast and most subdued in the West.

Construction. Fourth quarter is typically weak for this sector, and this year is no exception with 21% of firms planning to hire and 13% intending to reduce their payrolls. On a deseasonalized basis, the construction sector is down 2% from third quarter, but equals last year's outlook at this time. The largest gains will be in the South and the weakest job market will be in the West.

Durable-good manufacturing. Hiring patterns in this sector remain steady with new positions available at 21% of companies in fourth quarter and cutbacks at 11% of companies surveyed. On a seasonally adjusted basis, labor projections for this sector are up a significant 6% over the same quarter last year, with the strongest activity in the Midwest.

Nondurable-goods manufacturing. This sector is also significantly improved over the same time last year, up 7% on a seasonally adjusted basis, despite a slight 2% drop-off in employment prospects from third quarter. Overall, 22% of firms interviewed will be hiring in fourth quarter and 9% will be cutting staff. The Midwest will have the most robust hiring activity and the West will be the weakest region.

Transportation. Demand for workers in this sector is poised to drop 3% from both third quarter and last year on a seasonally adjusted basis. Job gains are expected at 19% of transportation firms and public utilities, as 10% prepare to decrease their workforce levels. The labor market in the West will outpace all other regions.

Wholesale and retail trades. The holiday hiring season will have a familiar feeling, as labor projections for the Wholesale & Retail Trades remain on an even pace with the same quarter last year. More job opportunities are anticipated at 34% of employers, while 8% will reduce staffing levels as the year comes to an end. The most optimistic forecast is in the Northeast.

Finance, insurance, and real estate. This is the only sector to show an improved job outlook through year end, on a seasonally adjusted basis, when compared with both third quarter of this year and 4th quarter of 2001. An increase in employment opportunities is probable for 19% of firms in this sector while 6% are planning to reduce their labor pools. Hiring intentions in the West are lagging behind the other regions.

Education. Personnel activity normally picks up for the education sector in fourth quarter, but this year will be an exception with activity reduced by 7% compared to the same quarter last year. This is, however, an improvement over the third quarter, with 20% of educational institutions planning to add workers and 8% reducing staff levels. Staffing patterns for this sector will be the most optimistic in the West and Midwest.

Services. Labor projections for the Services sector are up slightly year-over-year and on an even pace with third quarter, as 22% of employers intend to hire and 9% expect workforce reductions. The most active job market will be found in the South.

Public administration. Employment prospects are traditionally weak for the Public Administration sector at year-end, and this year is no exception with 15% of employers planning to add staff, and 12% cutting jobs. Hiring activity, on a seasonally adjusted basis, will be down 6% from last year and dead even with third quarter. The Midwest is expected to be particularly slow.

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