Employers' projected hiring hits 8-year low
By Monee Fields-White
Bloomberg News Service
WASHINGTON The number of U.S. firms planning to add workers during the first three months of 2002 declined to the lowest level in 18 years, according to a Manpower Inc. employment survey.
Of 16,000 employers surveyed, 16 percent said they intended to add workers during the period January through March, down from 27 percent in the same quarter last year.
It was the third straight decline, and the fewest number of businesses planning to add workers since the first quarter of 1983, when the economy was emerging from recession.
"There are those that are hoping things are going to get better by the first quarter, but 16,000 companies are saying just the opposite," said Jeffrey Joerres, chairman and chief executive at Manpower. "What we are feeling today is what we are going to feel if not a little worse in the first quarter."
The decline reflects weakness in manufacturing, public utilities, transportation and retail and other services, the No. 2 staffing company said in its survey.
Manpower has conducted the quarterly survey since 1976. The latest report showed 16 percent of surveyed employers expected to trim their payrolls in the first quarter, more than the 10 percent for the same period a year ago. Most businesses suveyed 61 percent said their payrolls would remain unchanged, and 7 percent said they weren't sure.
The latest Manpower report comes after Labor Department figures last week showed total unemployment rolls soared last week to an 18-year high of 3.826 million.
Earlier this month, the government reported the unemployment rate rose to a five-year high of 5.4 percent in October, and companies eliminated 415,000 jobs, the most since May 1980.