Survey shows steady improvement in employment, continuing recovery from recession levels

Sunday, May 12th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

MILWAUKEE (AP) _ Companies expect to add more jobs in the third quarter, continuing a steady recovery from recession levels, a survey being released Monday shows.

Twenty-seven percent of the companies said they planned to add jobs in July through September, while 8 percent said they anticipated cutting staff, according to Manpower Inc.'s quarterly survey of 16,000 firms nationwide.

The rest of the companies said they either expected to maintain their staffing levels or were uncertain about hiring activities.

When seasonally adjusted, the findings reflect a 14 percent increase in hiring activity compared with the first two quarters of the year.

``The trend has definitely turned,'' said Jeffrey Joerres, chairman and chief executive of Glendale-based Manpower, the nation's largest staffing company.

The third quarter results are nearly identical to the findings from the same period last year but still are not back to normal employment levels, Joerres said.

``Last year we were on the way down. This year we're on the way up,'' he said. ``There is still going to be pain associated with finding a job, but it's going to be less painful.''

The manufacturing sector improved the most, with 27 percent of manufacturers expecting to increase hiring in the third quarter, the survey found.

``In the past five months, the slowdown in losses in jobs has been dramatic. It is bottoming out,'' said Dave Huether, chief economist of the National Association of Manufacturers. ``A recovery is coming in the second half of the year, but it is going to be slow. It is going to be modest.''

The nation's unemployment rate jumped to 6 percent in April _ the highest in nearly eight years. Economists say companies are worried about the recovery's staying power and are reluctant to quickly rehire workers.

The U.S. Labor Department reported last week that new claims for unemployment benefits dropped by a seasonally adjusted 11,000 to 411,000 for the previous week.