Originally created 06/16/04

Survey: Companies optimistic about hiring in third quarter



MILWAUKEE -- U.S. companies expect to add jobs at a healthy pace this summer to satisfy demand for their goods and services, a new survey shows.

Manufacturers in particular haven't been this optimistic about job prospects since early 2001, according to Manpower Inc.'s quarterly survey of 16,000 businesses released Tuesday.

"There are many people who have been out of work for some time, and this will give them some ray of light," said Jeffrey Joerres, Manpower's chief executive and chairman.

The survey found 30 percent of companies expect to hire more people in the third quarter, while 6 percent intend to cut jobs. The rest anticipated no change or were uncertain about hiring prospects from July through September.

The third-quarter outlook is similar to the previous quarter's results, which showed the strongest hiring intentions since early 2001, according to Manpower, a worldwide staffing company.

"We've not had back-to-back quarters like this for a very long time," Joerres said.

The results also are an improvement from a year ago, when 20 percent of companies surveyed wanted to add jobs and 9 percent wanted to cut them.

Companies feel comfortable adding jobs because they are confident about the demand for their products or services, said Ivars Graudins, labor market information supervisor with Washington state's Employment Security Department.

The labor market has shown strong signs of improvement recently after three sluggish years. The economy added 248,000 jobs in May while the nation's unemployment rate held steady at 5.6 percent.

The Labor Department reported a slight rise in first-time jobless claims last week, although the number of people currently receiving unemployment insurance was at a three-year low.

Manufacturers, hardest hit by the 2001 recession, have struggled over the past three years to recover. The Manpower survey found manufacturers expect a slight increase in hiring this summer.

Manufacturers are starting to add jobs now after both exports and business investment have risen over the past year, said David Huether, chief economist of the National Association of Manufacturers.

The association predicted in January that manufacturers would add 250,000 jobs this year. Huether said that estimate now looks low considering the current hiring pace.

The survey also found strong job prospects in construction, services, mining and wholesale and retail trade.

According to the Manpower survey, job prospects in the Northeast, Midwest and South were similar to those reported in the second-quarter survey. Employers in the West expected to increase hiring.

On the Net:

Manpower: http://www.manpower.com