JOB Opportunities to Hold Steady

Monday, August 27th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

MILWAUKEE (AP) _ Hiring by U.S. private and public employers isn't expected to increase during the fourth quarter, according to a quarterly employment survey released Monday by Manpower Inc.

Only 24 percent of employers say they plan to add staff during the fourth quarter of this year, compared with 32 percent the same time last year, according to the Employment Outlook Survey by the Milwaukee-based temporary staffing agency.

``The key segments of durable and nondurable goods manufacturing project year-end hiring at levels approaching those experienced in the recession years of 1981 and 1991,'' said Jeff Joerres, Manpower's chairman and chief executive.

The Manpower report said 11 percent of the 16,000 employers surveyed expect to cut jobs, and 65 percent see no change or are undecided. That compared with 7 percent saying a year ago they planned to cut jobs and 61 percent expecting to stay the same or undecided.

Removing the impact of seasonal variations, the new figures showed a ``modest, but sequential'' decline that began during the first quarter of 2001 and has continued since.

Manpower said 16 percent of durable goods manufacturers expect to trim the number of workers they employ, while 20 percent plan to increase their staffing levels. Durable goods are costly manufactured items expected to last at least three years.

Nondurable goods makers showed one of their worst outlooks for the October-December period in the survey's 25-year history, with only 19 percent expecting to hire and 13 percent saying they plan to cut back.

Wholesale and retail trades appear to be the leader in hiring trends for the final three months of the year, thanks in part to the upcoming holiday retail season. Thirty-five percent said they plan to increase the number of workers they hire and 9 percent plan to reduce the number of workers.

Among transportation and public utilities, 20 percent expect to add staff and 9 percent to reduce it, the fourth consecutive quarter the sector reported a decline in hiring.

Services firms are losing their traditional resistance to hiring declines, Joerres said, and are ``now indicating hiring plants at historical recession levels as well.'' Just 22 percent of them said they are seeking staff, but 11 percent are planning layoffs.