Slow, Painful Climb toward Job Growth
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Slow, Painful Climb toward Job Growth


U.S. employers across the country plan to hire more workers over the next three months than during the same three months last year, according to a new survey of 18,000 employers by Manpower Inc., the world’s second largest provider of temporary workers. The pace remains slow, however. The survey reported a seasonally adjusted 8 percent hiring increase for the second quarter in 2011, compared with 6 percent at the same time one year ago. Sixteen percent of employers said they anticipate increasing their staff, while 6 percent expect a decrease in payrolls.

“The recent good news is heartening, but we should not lose sight of the slow overall progress made since the economy began to grow in the summer of 2009,” said Gary Burtless, senior fellow of economic studies at the Brookings Institution. “The nation has not come close to replacing jobs lost in the recession.”

The Manpower Employment Outlook follows last week’s positive unemployment report, which showed that employers added 192,000 jobs, while the unemployment rate dropped to a two-year low of 8.9 percent. Manpower’s survey echoes what economists have been saying: There are real signs the job market will continue to warm up over the next six months. Still, in order to make a significant dent in the unemployment rate and keep up with population growth, the economy needs to add about 200,000 jobs each month. Since December 2009, employers have added an average of 85,000 jobs per month, according to the Labor Department.

"Nearly all of the key data points in our survey show that employers are positive, but hiring plans are still reserved due to their continued ability to manage the slowly increasing demand with the existing workforce," said Jonas Prising, Manpower’s president of the Americas. "In the U.S., we are holding onto hard-won job gains and waiting for the time when the growth in demand for goods and services will require more substantial workforce additions."

Employers in all 50 states are more confident about their hiring intentions, while 33 out of 50 states anticipate “considerable increases,” according to the survey. The second quarter results suggest employers expect a relatively stable hiring pace compared to the first quarter in 2011, which showed a 4 percent net employment gain. Following a negative outlook in the last three quarters of 2009, employers have expressed a positive hiring outlook for six consecutive quarters, in part due to consumer spending.

As spending has increased, companies have hired back employees to keep up with demand. The Labor Department estimated companies slashed an estimated 8 million jobs since the economic downturn began in December 2007.

Employers in 13 industry sectors including manufacturing and construction reported a positive outlook. The mining and leisure and hospitality industries were most optimistic; they expected a 21 percent net employment gain.

Manpower asked employers one question: “How do you anticipate total employment at your location to change in the three months to the end of June 2011, as compared to the current quarter? The index subtracts the percentage of employers planning to cut jobs from those who plan to hire and adjusts the results for seasonal variations.

Related Links:
Hiring Intentions at U.S. Employers Rose in Second Quarter, Manpower Says (Bloomberg)
Manpower: More Employers Talk about Hiring (MarketWatch)
Hiring Managers Take Their Time Filing Jobs (Wall Street Journal)