Employers across the globe expect a cautious yet positive approach to hiring for the start of 2014, despite ongoing economic uncertainty and disruption. Upticks in payrolls are anticipated by varying degrees, according to the first-quarter Manpower Employment Outlook survey, released today by ManpowerGroup.
This quarter's research of over 65,000 hiring managers across 42 countries and territories reveals:
Encouraging New Year Signs for Global Labor Market: Employers in 34 of 42 countries and territories expect to increase payrolls in the next three months, compared with 29 in Q4 2013. Hiring plans strengthen in exactly half of countries and territories, weakening in 15 quarter-over-quarter. Outlooks are stronger in 21 countries and territories compared with one year ago at this time, and decline in 17.
Where First Quarter Hiring Plans are Strongest: Employers in Taiwan, India, New Zealand, Colombia and Singapore report the most optimistic outlooks, while the weakest — and only negative — outlooks are reported in Italy, Ireland, Finland, Spain, Slovakia and Belgium.
Japan Outlook Strongest in Nearly Six Years: Japanese employers report the most optimistic hiring intentions since Q2 2008, with Tokyo's outlook the strongest since Q3 2008, while their Chinese counterparts anticipate no change in hiring plans — a steady Net Employment Outlook of +13 percent for the coming quarter.
Brazil Slows Back to the Pack: Brazilian employers forecast their weakest hiring climate since the survey began in Q4 2009, but still expect favorable hiring. Elsewhere in the Americas, US employers report steady hiring activity and the region's least optimistic hiring plans are reported in Argentina.
Europe Fragile but Greece Makes Strides: As in the previous quarter, Europe's strongest hiring plans are reported in Turkey. Greek employers forecast the strongest hiring pace since Q4 2008, improving by 6 and 17 percentage points from Q4 2013 and Q1 2013, respectively. Hungarian employers report their most optimistic hiring plans since the survey began there in Q3 2009. Modest payroll gains are anticipated in France. Hiring prospects remain relatively stable quarter-over-quarter in Germany, but are three percentage points weaker year-over-year. Irish, Italian and Spanish employers continue to predict weak labor markets.
"Employers in many parts of the world anticipate mostly modest payroll gains, which may nevertheless be a sign of some gathering hiring momentum as we head into 2014," said Jeffrey A. Joerres, ManpowerGroup chairman and CEO. "However, whether you view labor market growth as steady or stagnant may well depend which side of the interview table you're sitting on. Employers will see these gains as a sensibly cautious approach to ongoing certain uncertainty, while job seekers may interpret the results as a sign of labor market stasis."
"With some exceptions — notably Brazil and, to some extent, mainland China — the report indicates few signs of a general retreat in employer confidence. When compared quarter-over-quarter, employer hiring intentions in the G7 countries improve or remain relatively stable and many employers tell us that they intend to add to their payrolls, but at far more modest rates than in the pre-recession years. It may well be that varying levels of marginally positive hiring intent is as good as it gets."
Employer hiring intentions remain positive in all 10 countries ManpowerGroup surveys in the Americas. However, the first-quarter forecasts are mostly weaker in both quarter-over-quarter and year-over-year comparisons. Colombian employers expect the strongest hiring pace with three out of 10 employers expecting to grow first-quarter payrolls. A steady hiring pace is also expected in Brazil, but the country's outlook has weakened by varying degrees for nine consecutive quarters and now stands at its weakest point since the Brazilian survey was launched in 2009. The U.S. outlook remains upbeat and is relatively stable in both quarter-over-quarter and year-over-year comparisons.
"Despite fears that the recent government shutdown might dent hiring confidence and the multitude of outside factors that contribute to an uncertain landscape, American employers continue on the five-year pattern of steady jobs growth," said Jonas Prising, ManpowerGroup President. "Hiring has been particularly robust in wholesale and retail, and our survey tells us that is likely to be the case into the new year."
Regionally, employers throughout Asia Pacific continue to report positive Net Employment Outlooks. Job seekers in Taiwan are likely to benefit from the most robust hiring pace in the region, with more than one of every three employers indicating they plan to add to their payrolls in the first quarter. First-quarter prospects are also bright for India's job seekers with a brisk hiring pace expected in most industry sectors and all regions. Japan's outlook stands at its strongest since the second quarter of 2008 following more than four years of steadily improving forecasts. Hiring plans also remain positive in China, but the outlook continues to rest at a position below the more optimistic forecasts of late 2010 and early 2011, adding further evidence that the country's growth track may be leveling off. The region's weakest forecast is reported in Australia despite moderate quarter-over-quarter improvements in both the Mining & Construction and Finance sectors.
"Chinese employers are increasingly concerned that they will experience managerial shortages in the future. To continue on its path of sustainable growth, China needs to build a home-grown cadre of globally minded, savvy business leaders," said Darryl Green, ManpowerGroup president. "The situation is similar in Japan; the needs of corporate Japan are not met by the young people that are being produced by Japanese education and society. Unless actions are taken to address these problems, the country's competitive edge will continue to erode."
Europe paints a very mixed picture. The region's strongest hiring plans are reported in Turkey and weakest in Italy where for the 12th consecutive quarter employers report negative hiring intentions. Conversely, opportunities for job seekers in Greece are expected to noticeably shift to the positive in the next three months as the outlook climbs for the sixth consecutive quarter and employers report the strongest hiring intentions in over five years.
"The Eurozone recovery remains tepid but employers in the region continue to show signs of cautious optimism. Crucially, Germany shows stability but talent shortages there are a recurring theme and recruitment strategies need to be adjusted accordingly to embrace flexibility," added Green. "The Republic of Ireland's impending exit from international bailout is a positive step. Meanwhile, the UK unemployment rate has fallen to its lowest level in more than three years but the high number of people in part-time work means that serious challenges remain."
The Manpower Employment Outlook Survey Explorer tool, a new interactive way to examine and compare ManpowerGroup's data, can be viewed at http://www.manpowergroupsolutions.com/DataExplorer/. The tool includes at-a-glance maps and graphs that plot historical and current global hiring trends. The next Manpower Employment Outlook Survey will be released on 11 March 2014 to report hiring expectations for the second quarter of 2014.