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June 18, 2003
Survey: Hiring Outlook Remains Weak for Third Quarter
U.S. employers remain cautious in their hiring intentions for the third quarter, according to the latest employment survey by Manpower Inc.

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Even though the 16,000 U.S. employers surveyed anticipate some job opportunities in the July-September period, their hiring forecast has decreased since the second quarter survey and has dropped lower than it was a year ago at this time.

Of the U.S. employers that were surveyed, 20 percent said they plan to increase hiring activity for the third quarter, while 9 percent expect a decrease in job prospects. A solid 65 percent of employers expect no change in hiring, and 6 percent are uncertain of their employment plans. When the seasonal variations are removed from the data, the outlook is reduced to the lowest level in 12 years.

"One factor we must consider is that the data was collected in April, at the height of both the SARS outbreak and the war in Iraq," says Jeffrey A. Joerres, chairman and CEO of Manpower Inc. "For that reason, we could find that hiring activity is slightly more positive in the upcoming quarter than survey results are indicating, as employers see progress in the resolution of these issues."

Employers in five of the 10 industry sectors estimate that their third quarter hiring activity will be the softest it has been in more than a decade, including: construction, wholesale & retail trade, education, services and public administration.

"Job seekers will continue to face difficulty from July through September in many industry sectors, but particularly in education and non-durable goods manufacturing, where employment levels are projected to be the lowest we have seen in the third quarter for more than 20 years," adds Joerres. "In the education and public administration sectors, the number of employers planning to decrease job levels actually outpaces those anticipating increased hiring activity. Job prospects are stronger in the finance, insurance & real estate sector where the hiring pace is expected to remain steady from second quarter through September."

Employment estimates across all four regions of the United States are relatively consistent with the overall national outlook, although employers in the South report stronger hiring intentions than other regions. The Northeast expects the slowest hiring pace in the country for the third consecutive quarter.

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