Companies in the United States revealed the strongest first-quarter hiring outlook since 2006, according to ManpowerGroup’s latest employment forecast for 2019.
The global staffing provider’s survey of over 12,500 U.S. employers found that 23 percent plan to increase staff in the first quarter, while 5 percent plan to decrease staff. That results in a net employment outlook of 18 percent and rises to 20 percent when seasonally adjusted, marking the 18th consecutive quarter with an outlook of 15 percent or above. Manpower’s net employment outlook is figured by subtracting the percentage of employers expecting a decrease in hiring from the percentage of employers planning an increase in hiring.
Employers in all industry sectors surveyed by Manpower reported positive hiring plans, with the transportation and utilities sector (28 percent) leading all others, followed by the leisure and hospitality (27 percent) and professional and business services (25 percent) sectors. Employers in the mining (24 percent), construction (23 percent) and manufacturing (20 percent) industries are reporting their most bullish hiring plans in more than a decade.
“We’re seeing continued demand for skilled talent across the globe, as companies stay focused on business growth, especially in tight labor markets like the U.S.,” said ManpowerGroup Chairman and CEO Jonas Prising.
All U.S. regions reported positive first-quarter hiring plans, with employers in Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho and New Hampshire forecasting the strongest net employment outlooks in the Manpower report. Of the 100 largest metropolitan statistical areas, the most job prospects are expected in four Florida cities—Cape Coral, Daytona Beach, Jacksonville and Tampa—and in Raleigh, N.C.
Employer confidence is high globally. Of the over 60,000 employers interviewed across the globe by Manpower, organizations anticipate increasing staffing levels in 43 out of 44 countries and territories. The United States ranked among the strongest outlooks for hiring among the countries surveyed. Other countries with robust hiring plans include Greece, Japan, Slovenia and Taiwan, while employers reported the weakest hiring intentions in Argentina, Italy, Panama, Spain and Switzerland.
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Worries About Finding Workers
Employers are less certain about their ability to find the workers they need.
Ninety percent of Massachusetts and New Hampshire employers across a variety of white-collar sectors said in a recent survey that they expected to increase headcount in the first half of 2019. However, 66 percent of those respondents reported that finding and recruiting qualified candidates is the biggest challenge they face.
The survey was conducted by BANKW Staffing, a regional staffing firm serving the two states.
“There is a real pipeline challenge as businesses are struggling to recruit and hire skilled talent who possess the type of skills companies need in 2019 and beyond,” said Matt Nagler, managing partner at BANKW Staffing. “Not only is the talent pool shallower, but competition among businesses vying for these candidates is getting fiercer by the day.”
Becky Frankiewicz, president of ManpowerGroup North America, said skilled workers can call the shots in this tight labor market.
“We’ve seen large organizations increase wages and add new perks and benefits like unlimited paid time off to compete for talent,” she said. “Employers can increase their offer, yet ultimately there is a finite supply of skilled talent, unless we’re investing in development and giving employees the chance to upskill, move up and earn more.”
Work/life balance (38 percent) and health care (24 percent) stood out as the top two benefits that employees are seeking from their employer, according to the BANKW Staffing survey.
“Potential job candidates are confident in their employment opportunities and willing to change jobs often to find benefits and growth in their careers,” Nagler said.