Hiring Plans by U.S. Employers Are Little Changed, Manpower Says

Hiring plans among U.S. corporations in the fourth quarter are little changed from the previous three months, indicating scant improvement in the labor market, a private survey found.

Milwaukee-based ManpowerGroup (MAN) said today its employment index for October through December held at 11 on a seasonally adjusted basis. A year earlier the measure was at 8. The share of those looking to hold the line on headcount rose to 72 percent in the fourth quarter from 71 percent in the previous three months.

Some 17 percent of companies surveyed said they expected to add workers, down from 21 percent who said so in the previous survey. A global economic slowdown and the so-called looming fiscal cliff of automatic tax increases and government spending cuts may be making employers hesitant to expand.

“There’s little demand out there,” said Jeff Joerres, ManpowerGroup president and chief executive officer. “It’s tepid. Given the current environment, they’re not going to be doing a lot of increasing but they’re not going to be doing a lot of decreasing” headcount, Joerres said in an interview.

Before adjusting for seasonal differences, the report also showed that 9 percent of employers, the biggest share since the first quarter, said they expect to reduce hiring in the final three months of 2012.

Manpower’s employment measure subtracts the percentage of employers planning to cut jobs from those looking to hire and adjusts the results for seasonal variations.

Labor Department figures last week showed the economy added 96,000 jobs in August, fewer than the forecast, while the unemployment rate fell to 8.1 percent as more people left the workforce.

While all 13 industries reported a positive outlook for hiring plans, education and health services was the only industry that saw an increase from the previous three months.

Manpower interviewed more than 18,000 employers in the U.S. The survey is conducted quarterly, and the margin of error for all the data is plus or minus 0.6 percent.

To contact the reporter on this story: Lorraine Woellert in Washington at lwoellert@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Wellisz at cwellisz@bloomberg.net

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