Positive but Cautious Global Hiring Forecast for Q3 2016

By Roy Maurer Jun 28, 2016
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Employers across the globe plan to increase hiring over the next three months overall, though at a slightly slower pace than in recent quarters, according to the latest Manpower Employment Outlook Survey.

Globally, 40 of the 43 countries and territories surveyed expect a positive net employment outlook in the third quarter of 2016, according to the Manpower report. This figure is derived by taking the percentage of employers expecting an increase in hiring activity and subtracting from this the percentage of employers that expect to see a decrease in employment in the next quarter. Employer hiring confidence is strongest in the following countries, in order: India, Japan, Taiwan, Guatemala, Romania and the United States. The weakest forecasts are reported in the following order: Brazil, Switzerland, Italy, Spain and France.

"Stronger employer hiring intentions in most regions is certainly cause for optimism, though global growth is still below prerecession levels," said Jonas Prising, chairman and CEO of ManpowerGroup. "The political uncertainty in Europe and the United States means employers are hesitant to significantly add to their workforce, but they do continue to hire at modest levels, and many are still experiencing difficulty finding in-demand skills."

ManpowerGroup's survey found 23 percent of U.S. employers plan to increase staff in the third quarter, up 1 percent from the prior quarter's forecast. Five percent plan to decrease staff, 71 percent expect no change in staff, and 1 percent are undecided about their hiring intentions, resulting in a net employment outlook of 18 percent. The survey includes responses from more than 59,000 organizations worldwide, of which 11,000 are U.S. employers.

"Although employers have been increasingly cautious for the last three quarters, the U.S. hiring outlook is among the strongest globally, and we expect to see modest improvements in the labor market throughout most of the country," said Kip Wright, senior vice president of Manpower in North America.

But other observers aren't as optimistic. Gad Levanon, chief economist, North America, for The Conference Board, a New York City-based business membership and research association, noted that the "improvement is due to seasonal factors" typically present in the third quarter of the year. When seasonally adjusted, net hiring strength drops for the third quarter in a row. "That would be more in line with the weakness we see in our Employment Trends Index," he said.

U.S. employers in 12 of the 13 industry sectors surveyed reported positive hiring prospects for the next three months. The industries with the highest seasonally adjusted net employment outlooks are:

  • Leisure and hospitality (23 percent of employers surveyed expect to increase hiring).
  • Wholesale and retail trade (20 percent).
  • Transportation and utilities (19 percent).
  • Professional and business services (18 percent).

Employers in the mining sector expect payrolls to decline, reporting an outlook of minus 4 percent.

All 100 of the largest metropolitan statistical areas in the United States reported positive hiring plans. Statewide, employers in Delaware, Idaho, Kentucky, Maine, Montana and Oregon reported the strongest employment outlooks, while Louisiana, Nevada, New Jersey, Oklahoma and Wyoming projected the weakest outlooks.

India Leads Globally

While employers in most of the surveyed countries and territories expected to add staff in the third quarter of 2016, "significant upturns in overall employer confidence are few, and some declining trajectories reported previously, most notably in Brazil and China, continue unabated," the Manpower report said. Compared with Q2 2016, third-quarter hiring plans strengthen in 14 of the surveyed countries, are unchanged in seven, and weaken in 21.

Indian employers are the most optimistic globally on hiring plans, while Brazil fares the worst, with the only negative forecast in the report.

India's prospects remain comparatively positive, even amid global economic slowdown, said ManpowerGroup India Group Managing Director A G Rao. "Despite market volatilities, India's macroeconomic fundamentals have improved due to a combination of various initiatives focused on job creation and skill development with a continuing emphasis on ease of doing business, particularly in relation to infrastructure and other large projects," he said.

India is followed by Japan as the second-most optimistic on hiring outlook, while the U.S. placed fifth.

Brazil's labor market slump continues the steady decline that started in the fourth quarter of 2011, while employers in China projected the weakest hiring forecast of the eight countries surveyed in the Asia-Pacific region for the fourth consecutive quarter.

Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.

Follow him @SHRMRoy

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