Originally created 05/27/98

Business hiring to continue at highest levels in 20 years



NEW YORK -- Businesses are expecting to hire workers this summer at the highest levels seen in 20 years, according to a survey by a temporary employment placement company.

The hiring plans reported in the survey should help keep unemployment at its lowest level in nearly 30 years.

Thirty-two percent of businesses surveyed by Manpower Inc. said they intend to increase their work force, 59 percent said they would continue current staffing levels and only 5 percent expect to cut back. The rest were unsure.

The last time the outlook was as bright was in the third quarter of 1978, when 34 percent of surveyed firms said they expected to hire workers and 6 percent planned cuts.

The results of the latest survey, conducted during the last two weeks of April, confirm a trend. In both the third quarter last year and the second quarter this year, 30 percent of businesses planned to increase their payrolls and 5 percent expected them to decrease.

"While the year-to-year and quarter-to-quarter increases do not represent dramatic changes, they do represent a clear continuation of significant job growth across the nation," said Mitchell S. Fromstein, Manpower's chief executive. "There are still more jobs to fill than qualified people to fill them."

The Midwest and West topped the nation's employment regions, with wholesalers and retailers there expecting more hiring than at any time in the survey's 22-year history. Transportation companies and public utilities were also planning the highest staffing levels in almost 20 years.

Construction leads the national survey by occupation, but nearly every sector was expected to either meet or exceed seasonal predictions. The fields of education, finance, insurance and real estate are particularly hot, with staffing levels expected to match those of the 1970s.

The latest survey was based on telephone interviews with 15,653 U.S. businesses and had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.