Weak employment growth expected in early 2010

By Lance Henderson

Manpower of Bellingham, the local branch of a national network of employment services providers, released its employment outlook survey for the first quarter of 2010 on Dec. 8.

With more than 28,000 employer interviews conducted in 201 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs), the survey found that 12 percent of employers expect to add to their current workforce while the same amount plan on making a reduction to their overall numbers. Three percent remain undecided and 73 percent of employers have no anticipated change to their current staffing levels, the highest percentage noted in the 47-year history of the survey.

These results, when adjusted for seasonal variations, suggest that employers across the country expect to increase hiring moderately from the fourth quarter of 2009 and exhibit a slight decrease over the first quarter of 2009.

While employment growth is anticipated to be slight in the western United States, the survey suggests that the industries to watch are durable goods manufacturing and government, which expect the strongest quarter-over-quarter change.

“Everyone wants to see a swift and robust rebound in the economy,” said Dale Sprague, branch manager for Manpower in Whatcom, Skagit, and Island counties. “Instead, what we are seeing is slow incremental change. Employers are being cautious and methodical about their employment growth as we come out of this recession.”

Researchers for this survey studied employers within 12 industries: mining, construction, manufacturing, transportation and utilities, wholesale and retail trade, information, financial activities, professional and business services, education and health services, leisure and hospitality, other services and government.


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