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February 25, 2003
Hiring Will Slow in 2nd Quarter, Survey Says
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. employers will be hiring at a moderately slower pace during the second quarter of 2003, according to the Employment Outlook Survey, conducted by Manpower Inc.

"The survey results are clearly showing a dominating sense of uncertainty, as hiring intentions have dipped for the first time in over a year," says Jeffrey A. Joerres, Chairman and CEO of Manpower Inc. "The results were unusually inconsistent across regions and sectors, which may signify a higher than normal level of caution and anxiety in the marketplace, rather than a trend. Another quarter of data will give us more insight into what is really happening on the hiring front and whether this is just a normal hitch in the recovery curve, a response to the geopolitical situation, or an indication of more difficult times ahead."

Of the nearly 16,000 employers interviewed, 22 percent said they expect to hire more people during the second quarter of 2003 compared with 20 percent in the first quarter of this year. Nine percent intend to reduce their workforce compared with 12 percent in the previous quarter. A steady 63 percent of companies plan to maintain their current staff levels and 6 percent are uncertain. When the seasonal variations are removed from the data, employment prospects are expected to be weaker than in the first quarter, but up slightly from the second quarter of 2002.

Employers in the South report the most optimistic job prospects for second quarter across all industry sectors and the Northeast is showing the weakest outlook.

"Durable Goods Manufacturing shows the biggest increases from the same quarter in 2002, despite falling off slightly from the first quarter of this year," says Joerres. "We are seeing mild improvement in all four regions, indicating that employment levels for this sector may be stabilizing."

After showing strong hiring intentions three months ago, the Wholesale & Retail sector is less optimistic going into the second quarter with the employment outlook dropping back to the same level as a year ago. Employers in the West anticipate weaker hiring levels than the other regions.

Manpower Inc. conducts the Employment Outlook Survey in the United States on a quarterly basis. It is a measurement of employers' intentions to increase or decrease the permanent workforce. The survey is based on telephone interviews with nearly 16,000 public and private employers in 470 U.S. markets.


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