2013: International Companies Less Confident to Add Staff

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A majority of global employers are less confident about adding staff this year than they were at the start of 2012, suggesting a more difficult time ahead for international job seekers, according to ManpowerGroup’s first-quarter 2013 Manpower Employment Outlook Survey, released Dec. 11, 2012.

ManpowerGroup publishes the results of the employment outlook, which quarterly polls approximately 65,000 employers in 42 countries and territories to measure employers’ intentions to increase or decrease the number of employees in their workforce during the next quarter. The weaker global hiring sentiment is most evident across Europe, where employers in 13 of 24 countries polled are reporting negative outlooks for the first quarter, compared with eight countries just three months ago. The uncertainty also extends to China, where employers report the weakest hiring plans in three years.

“Worldwide, businesses are hesitating with investments due to uncertainty and this includes their investment in talent,” said Manpower Chairman and CEO Jeffrey A. Joerres in a media statement about the survey findings. “In Europe, more companies are telling us they will cut staff to adjust to the weaker demand. In fact, employers in seven European countries are reporting their weakest forecasts since we have been tracking hiring trends. But the current softening across global labor markets is much different than in 2008-2009. We are not seeing widespread doom and gloom, but rather more of a prolonged standstill in hiring.”

ManpowerGroup’s hiring confidence index shows that first-quarter hiring plans are strongest in Brazil, Colombia, India, Mexico, Panama and Taiwan, and weakest in Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain.

Europe, Middle East and Africa

Across Europe, Middle East and Africa, first-quarter hiring plans are split nearly down the middle. Labor markets from 13 out of 24 countries polled in the region believe hiring outlooks are improving or remaining relatively stable compared with three months ago. Year-over-year analysis, however, reveals a bleaker outlook. Three-quarters of the countries polled from this region expect the hiring pace to weaken throughout 2013.

“With the Eurozone’s return to recession, employers are confronted with a difficult balancing act in the near term,” Joerres said. “Companies must find a way to recalibrate their workforce to align with an uncertain demand for their products and services, and this is no easy task.”

Despite the uncertainty that prevails in much of Europe, the German labor market shows signs of resilience, as employers there report a similar forecast from three months ago. Job prospects in the region are expected to be strongest in Israel, Romania and Turkey, and weakest in Greece, Italy and Spain.

South and Latin America

Outlooks improve or remain stable in six of 10 countries polled quarter-over-quarter, but year-over-year comparisons reveal weaker hiring plans in seven countries.

“Job prospects in Mexico are the strongest in nearly five years, but companies and workers alike are trying to assess the long-term impact of the recent labor market reforms, which include lifting the ban on part-time employment. Meanwhile, Brazil’s hiring forecast—although the most optimistic in the region—is the weakest on record and represents notable declines in nearly all industry sectors,” said Joerres. 

Regional hiring expectations are strongest in Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and Panama, and weakest in Argentina.

Asia Pacific

On the other side of the globe, in the Asia Pacific region, hiring expectations remain positive in all labor markets. Job prospects are expected to remain largely unchanged from three months ago in the majority of countries and territories surveyed, although forecasts weaken in five of eight countries compared to this time in 2012.

“Australia’s once booming resource sector is unexpectedly slowing down due to lower commodity prices and weaker demand from Asia; however, the appetite for skilled talent in the sector remains healthy,” Joerres said. “Similarly, in the Indian market, employer demand is notably weaker than 12 months ago across all industry sectors, and more companies are uncertain about their workforce plans. We see this same growing uncertainty in China, where 38 percent of employers are telling us they simply don’t know whether or not they will hire in the quarter ahead.”

Demand for talent in the region is strongest in India and Taiwan, and weakest in Australia, where hiring expectations have fallen steadily over the past year and a half.

Pete Wolfinger is a freelance writer based in Arlington, Va. To read the original article, please click here.