Twenty percent of employers plan to add workers during the first three months
of 2004, while 13 percent anticipate job cuts, according to a survey of 16,000
companies by Manpower Inc.
Sixty-one percent of employers expect to retain the same level of staffing
as they did the last quarter. When the seasonal variations are removed from
the survey results, the data reveal that the hiring forecast from January to
March is more positive than it was last quarter and relatively consistent with
the outlook a year ago, according to Manpower.
"Five years have passed since we last witnessed an increase in hiring
expectations between the fourth quarter survey and the employment outlook for
the new year," says Jeffrey A. Joerres, chairman and CEO of Manpower Inc.
"Although hiring intentions are still not as buoyant as they were in the
late 1990s, employers are taking a step in that direction with their hiring
plans for the beginning of the year."
The new year brings stronger job prospects to each of the four U.S. regions.
Employers in the West foresee the most hiring activity, while those in the Midwest
are the least optimistic. Job seekers in the Northeast are expected to have
more opportunities than they have had in nearly three years, according to the
"As we look at the results of the survey, employers across the country
are clearly more confident about what they see with demand for their products
and services," said Joerres. "In fact, nine of the 10 industry sectors
polled are more optimistic about their hiring intentions in the first quarter
than they were for the fourth quarter of 2003." Public Administration is
the only sector in which employers expect fewer jobs than last quarter.