Survey Shows That 2012 Hiring Plans Are (Finally) Starting to Look Up

Manpower says the U.S. hiring outlook for the first part of next year is the most positive since 2008. That’s not saying much, though.

The quarterly Manpower survey of hiring intentions released today shows 14 percent of employers expect to add to their workforce in the first three months of 2012. Nine percent expect a decline; 7 percent don’t know; and, 70 percent predict no change. With Manpower’s seasonal adjustment, the net result is 9 percent overall increase in job growth intentions.

Intentions, of course, don’t necessarily translate into actual hiring. But next quarter’s employer plans at least show the first improvement in a year. Throughout this year, Manpower’s survey of hiring intent stayed at a consistent 8 percent. It’s also the ninth constitutive quarter of positive hiring intentions.

Still lots of uncertain employers

“Slow, but steady momentum has improved employer confidence, which is likely why more employers are planning to hire in the first quarter,” said Jonas Prising, ManpowerGroup president of the Americas.

However, there’s an unusually large number of employers who don’t know what they’ll be doing next quarter. The 7 percent uncertain employers is the highest since 2005 and the jump between the current fourth quarter, where 3 percent of employers were unsure, to next quarter is the largest since 1977.

“This uptick is encouraging,” Prising, said, “but the historically high proportion of employers that are unsure of their hiring plans indicates continued uncertainty about the future and ongoing caution when it comes to staffing plans.”

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Adding to the uncertainty is the continuing debate in the U.S. Congress about extending a payroll tax cut, which expires in less than three weeks, as well as the European bailout and the future of the Euro.

Majority of companies will do no hiring

As if to underscore the uncertainty, a survey by Dice Holdings, owner of eFinancialCareers and the IT specialty job board, found 47 percent of hiring managers and recruiters saying they expected to increase hiring in the first half of 2012 compared to their hiring in the second half of 2011.

While the Dice results are more optimistic than what Manpower found, both surveys found a majority of companies plan no additional hiring. Dice said 53 percent of the respondents expect no new hiring in the first half of next year; Manpower put the number at 70 percent for the first three months.

Manpower’s survey also found that the most robust hiring will be in the mining sector (which include oil and gas), which is projected to see a seasonally adjusted 16 percent hiring boost. Leisure and hospitality is just behind with a 14 percent net employment outlook. Only construction is expected to see a net jobs decrease. It’s employment outlook is -7 percent.

John Zappe is the editor of and a contributing editor of John was a newspaper reporter and editor until his geek gene lead him to launch his first website in 1994. He developed and managed online newspaper employment sites and sold advertising services to recruiters and employers. Before joining ERE Media in 2006, John was a senior consultant and analyst with Advanced Interactive Media and previously was Vice President of Digital Media for the Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

Besides writing for ERE, John consults with staffing firms and employment agencies, providing content and managing their social media programs. He also works with organizations and businesses to assist with audience development and marketing. In his spare time  he can be found hiking in the California mountains or competing in canine agility and obedience competitions.

You can contact him here.


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