Survey Finds That Hiring Remains Stable, Slowly Regaining Strength

Hiring confidence among U.S. employers continues to inch up in virtually all states, regions and industries, according to the latest Manpower Employment Outlook Survey.


The seasonally adjusted Net Employment Outlook for Q4 is +11 percent, unchanged from Q3 and slightly up from +8 percent during the same period last year.

Other highlights:

  • Strongest Fourth Quarter Outlook in five years — The Q4 Outlook of +11 percent is the strongest fourth quarter data since 2007.
  • Three years of reserved growth — Hiring intentions have grown increasingly confident throughout the last three years, with no declines in the Outlook quarter-over-quarter. That continued climb in confidence was preceded by three quarters of pessimistic employment plans.
  • Regaining strength — The Outlook is slowly regaining strength as it builds toward the strongest Outlook of the past decade. Before hitting its weakest mark of -2 percent in Q3 2009, the Outlook reached its strongest point of the last decade at +21 percent in Q3 2006. At +11 percent, the Q4 Outlook is halfway between the two.
  • Positive trend across the U.S. — Hiring intentions continue to climb with employers in 49 of 50 states and 99 out of the 100 largest MSAs reporting positive hiring intentions.

Sector data

Employers have a positive Outlook in all 13 industry sectors:

  • Wholesale & Retail Trade (+16% percent);
  • Leisure & Hospitality (+15 percent);
  • Professional & Business Services (+13 percent);
  • Mining (+10 percent);
  • Financial Activities (+10 percent);
  • Information (+9 percent);
  • Durable Goods Manufacturing (+8 percent);
  • Education & Health Services (+8 percent);
  • Other Services (+5 percent);
  • Non-durable Goods Manufacturing (+4 percent);
  • Transportation & Utilities (+4 percent);
  • Government (+4 percent); and,
  • Construction (+1 percent).

When compared quarter over quarter, employers in the Education & Health Services sector anticipate a slight hiring increase.

The hiring pace is expected to slightly decrease among employers in four sectors: Wholesale & Retail Trade, Information, Financial Activities and Government. Employers in the Mining, Durable Goods Manufacturing, Professional & Business Services and Other Services sectors anticipate a moderate decrease in the hiring pace, while employers in the Construction, Non-durable Goods Manufacturing, Transportation & Utilities and Leisure & Hospitality sectors expect the hiring pace to decline by considerable margins quarter-over-quarter.

Regional data

A positive Outlook is reported in all four U.S. regions. Quarter over quarter, hiring plans remain essentially unchanged among employers in the Northeast, Midwest, South and West.

Compared to one year ago, employers in each region project a slight increase in hiring for Q4. Employers in the South report the strongest Outlook at 12 percent.

Behind the numbers

Of the more than 18,000 U.S. employers surveyed, 17 percent anticipate an increase in staff levels in Q4, while 9 percent expect a decrease, resulting in a Net Employment Outlook of +8 percent.

When seasonally adjusted, the Outlook becomes +11 percent. Some 72 percent of employers expect no change in hiring plans; 2 percent are undecided.

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What’s does it all mean?

“Despite tumultuous global economies, election uncertainty, record heat waves, health care reform and other challenges, employers indicate that steady but cautious hiring progress will continue through the end of the year,” said Jonas Prising, ManpowerGroup president of the Americas. “

He added: “Employers have shown remarkable consistency in their careful approach to staff growth. The data shows that companies are very cautious about adding staff, but still have the intention to increase their workforces into the fourth quarter.”

About the survey

The quarterly Manpower Employment Outlook Survey measures employers’ intentions to increase or decrease their employment levels in the upcoming quarter. It is the most extensive forward-looking survey of its kind, unparalleled in size, scope, longevity and area of focus.

Want more? The complete results — including detailed breakdowns by industry, country, region, state and MSA — are available here.

The Q1 2013 Manpower Employment Outlook Survey will be released Dec, 11, 2012. To receive an email notification when the survey is available each quarter, go here.

This was originally published on Manpower Group’s Employment Blawg.

Mark Toth has served as Manpower Group North America's Chief Legal Officer since 2000. He also serves on the company’s Global Leadership Team, Global Legal Lead Team and North American Lead Team. Mark is recognized as an expert on legal issues affecting the U.S. workplace and is frequently quoted in media from The Wall Street Journal to 60 Minutes. He is also a past Chair of the American Staffing Association and is a certified Senior Professional in Human Resources. Contact him at


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