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December 16, 2003
Hiring Outlook Improving?

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.

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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 survey.

"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.

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