Local Hiring Outlook Positive

June 23, 2003
| By Katy Rent |
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GRAND RAPIDS — Grand Rapids area employersexpect to hire at a strong pace during the third quarter of 2003, according to the Manpower Employment Outlook Survey.

From July to September, 27 percent of the companies interviewed plan to hire more employees, while only 7 percent intend to reduce their workforce, according to Manpower spokesperson David Clonan. Another 63 percent expect to maintain the current staff levels and percent are not certain of their hiring plans.

“Last quarter employers were modestly optimistic when 20 percent forecast adding workers and percent anticipated reductions,” said Clonan. “A year ago at this time, employers voiced identical intentions as 27 percent thought workforce increases were likely and percent intended to cut back.”

For the coming quarter, staffing increases are planned in durable goods manufacturing, transportation/public administration, wholesale/retail trades and finance/insurance/real estate. A mix of job gains and losses are expected in the services category, and other sectors anticipate no change in staffing levels, according to the survey.

Locally in other areas the survey reported that Holland area companies show a slightly stronger employment plan. Forty-three percent of businesses plan to hire more people, while 10 percent plan to reduce the workforce. Another 47 percent expect to maintain the current staff, leaving no business reporting uncertainty.

The Muskegon/Tri Cities area still has a more positive outlook on adding staff than Grand Rapids, but slightly lower than Holland with 37 percent of companies planning to hire new employees. Another 13 percent plan to decrease their workforce, while 50 percent do not plan to make changes in the employee structure.

Kalamazoo, however, shows a stable work environment with 60 percent of companies not planning on making any hiring changes. Another 7 percent plan on hiring additional employees and 10 percent plan on decreasing staff, leaving 23 percent unsure of changes in staffing.

Are employers being overly optimistic? Joe Ross, Manpower’s workforce analyst, seemed to think so.

“Frankly, I think the businesses that reported to us during the survey were overly optimistic. Unless there is something that has gone on with our economy within the last month in Kent County, I really don’t see that,” said Ross. “I think things are going to get better this summer but not quite as good as employers are stating. I don’t think they are.”

And Ross’s thoughts are reflected in the national results, which reveal that U.S. employers remain cautious in their hiring intentions for the third quarter. Even though companies across the country anticipate some job opportunities in the July-September period, the hiring forecast has decreased since the second quarter survey and has dropped lower than it was a year ago at this time.

The national employment outlook reveals that of the 16,000 employers surveyed, 20 percent plan to increase hiring activity for the third quarter, while 9 percent expect a decrease in job prospects. A solid 65 percent of the companies surveyed expect no change in hiring, and 6 percent are uncertain of employment plans.

The complete results of the national Manpower Employment Outlook Survey can be found in the press room of the Web site at www.manpower.com. The site will also include survey findings from 17 other countries around the world. 

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