Worldwide employment outlook optimistic, survey shows

13 Mar 2012

Hiring activity in the majority of the world’s labour markets is expected to remain relatively stable or improve from three months ago, suggesting added stability in an environment where employers are struggling with fluctuating demand, the Q2 2012 Manpower Employment Outlook Survey suggests.

Employers in 32 of 41 countries and territories surveyed report varying degrees of positive hiring activity for Q2, with those in 37 countries expecting relatively stable or improved hiring activity compared to the first three months of the year.

The services sector fuels the robust forecasts for Brazil and India, while in Asia-Pacific, demand in the sector is decreasing. In Europe, finance job prospects weaken compared to last year at this time, and US data reveals a slow, steady improvement trend.

“Our research highlights incremental improvements in select geographies, although the improvements still have a large dose of hesitancy and scepticism built in,” says Jeffrey A Joerres, chairman and CEO of ManpowerGroup.

“No doubt, we’re encouraged by the increased stability the numbers reveal this quarter, but uncertainty – caused by the disconnection between events at the macro level and the micro level in Europe – continues to temper the appetite for hiring.”

The global forecast for the quarter ahead is mixed, with Net Employment Outlooks declining from three months ago in just 11 countries and territories (compared to 30 in 1Q) and improving in 23. Compared to a year ago, outlooks are softer in 24 countries and territories, and improve in 13.

Employer hiring expectations worldwide

Worldwide, employer hiring expectations are strongest in India, Brazil, Taiwan, Peru and Turkey, and weakest in Greece, Spain and the Czech Republic, where a greater percentage of employers in these three countries are planning to trim payrolls rather than hire staff.

Employer hiring plans remain positive in all 10 countries Manpower surveys in the Americas, with Net Employment Outlooks improving from three months ago in seven countries. Conversely, the year-over-year comparison is mixed, with outlooks weakening in five countries but improving in four countries. Regional hiring expectations are strongest in Brazil and Peru, and weakest in the US, although employers there report the most optimistic forecast since Q4 of 2008.

The holding pattern on hiring is most prevalent across the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region, with employers in 12 of 23 countries reporting relatively stable hiring plans compared to the first quarter of the year and those in nine countries anticipating an increase in the hiring pace.

The hiring picture is mixed compared to this time last year, with Net Employment Outlooks falling in 13 countries but improving in seven countries. Regional hiring plans are strongest in Turkey, Israel, Romania and Norway, and weakest in Greece and Spain.

“The bright spot in Europe continues to be a resilient German labour market that is attracting skilled workers from weaker markets in the region; yet, shortages for in-demand skills, such as healthcare professionals, engineers and software developers, persist.

“Despite the relatively positive 2Q forecast in the German finance and business services sector, the outlook has weakened from 12 months ago, and highlights a broader weakening trend across the region as large finance companies look to restructure and reduce costs,” says Joerres.

“Meanwhile, in Greece, the troubles continue but fewer employers are telling us they will be shedding staff in the quarter ahead. Only time will tell whether recent EU backing will bring the added stability needed to inject some confidence into the country and region.”

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