Business

Not many new jobs on horizon, survey says

Posted September 8, 2009 11:57 a.m. EDT

— This fall appears unlikely to produce much of a harvest or holiday season when it comes to new jobs, Manpower reports in its Employment Outlook Survey for the fourth quarter.

With the state battling an unemployment rate of 11 percent, as Scrooge would say, “Bah, humbug!”

More employers in the Durham metro area plan to “hire at a steady pace” the last three months of the year, Manpower says.

“The hiring activity [in Durham] is expected to be much stronger than the previous quarter when 12 percent of companies surveyed planned to increase staff levels and 16 percent expected to cut payrolls,” said Manpower spokesperson Michael Doyle.

But that’s the extent of the good news.

In Raleigh-Cary the hiring picture is described as “unstable,” and in Fayetteville hiring plans are called “stable.”

The survey’s results didn’t surprise N.C. State University economist Dr. Michael Walden, who said that concerns about consumer spending – the key driver in the economy – remain high.

“The job market continues to be challenging,” Walden said. “Businesses are still unsure of if and when an economic recovery will occur, and even if it does, how strong it will be. So hiring managers remain cautious.”

As the recession drags on, Walden said relief is some time away.

“Most economists don't expect a noticeable turnaround in the job picture until spring of 2010,” he explained.

“The big worry is consumer spending. Declines in asset values and higher unemployment have resulted in the largest cutback in consumer spending in over half a century.”

Just how much the public will be willing to spend for Christmas, let alone for bigger items, is unclear, Walden added.

“Consumers are now in the process of repairing their balance sheets – primarily by increasing saving and reducing debt,” he said. “This will likely be a multi-year process, and so it puts a damper on hopes for a strong consumer-led economic recovery.”

Local market conditions

In Durham, 16 percent of companies surveyed plan to add workers while 9 percent plan cuts in work force. The vast majority, 71 percent, plan no changes while another 4 percent are not certain.

In Raleigh-Cary, however, only 6 percent of companies surveyed are looking to boost hiring. Twelve percent, meanwhile, are planning cuts. Most firms (77 percent) expect to keep current staff. Another 5 percent are unsure.

Doyle pointed out that the job picture hasn’t changed from the previous quarterly survey.

“The hiring activity is expected to be lighter than the previous quarter when 15 percent of companies surveyed planned to increase staff levels and 14 percent expected to cut payrolls,” Doyle said.

Manpower’s Amanda Fulp said the Fayetteville job situation has worsened.

Eleven percent of Fayetteville area businesses are looking to expand in the last three months of the year. An equal percentage plans cutbacks. While 75 percent of the firms surveyed plan to maintain payrolls, 3 percent are uncertain.

“The hiring activity is expected to be lighter than the previous quarter when 14 percent of companies surveyed planned to increase staff levels and seven percent expected to cut payrolls,” Fulp said.

The national jobs outlook isn’t any better. According to Manpower, 12 percent of 28,000 companies interviewed plan to add workers but 14 percent are looking to cut staff. Of the remainder, 69 percent expect to maintain current work forces while five percent are still undecided.

"The hiring intentions of U.S. companies continue to be sluggish," said Manpower Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jeff Joerres. "While there are areas within the U.S. which are showing an uptick, we have yet to see the robust hiring intentions that would indicate a full labor market recovery."

Job prospects, threats

Best job prospects in Durham, according to Manpower:

  • Durable Goods Manufacturing
  • Wholesale & Retail Trade
  • Information, Professional & Business Services
  • Other Services
  • Government

Look for cutbacks in:

  • Construction
  • Transportation & Utilities
  • Financial Activities

Best job opportunities in Raleigh-Cary:

  • Construction
  • Information and Other Services

Categories where job reductions are most widely expected:

  • Durable Goods Manufacturing
  • Transportation & Utilities
  • Wholesale & Retail Trade
  • Financial Activities
  • Professional & Business Services
  • Education & Health Services
  • Government

Manpower’s Amanda Fulp said the Fayetteville job situation has worsened.

“The hiring activity is expected to be lighter than the previous quarter when 14 percent of companies surveyed planned to increase staff levels and seven percent expected to cut payrolls,” Fulp said.

Best job prospects in Fayetteville:

  • Wholesale & Retail Trade
  • Financial Activities
  • Education & Health Services
  • Government

Employers considering making cutbacks include:

  • Durable Goods Manufacturing
  • Professional & Business Services
  • Leisure & Hospitality