Business

Jobs picture brightens a bit in Triangle, is strong in Fayetteville

Posted December 8, 2009 5:17 a.m. EST
Updated December 8, 2009 8:35 a.m. EST

— Looking for work? Worried about keeping your existing job? Well, the employment picture is improving a bit in the Triangle and is especially strong in Fayetteville.

That’s the good news from the latest hiring survey report from Manpower Employment Outlook Survey for the first quarter of next year.

In Raleigh-Cary and Durham-Chapel Hill metropolitan statistical areas, Manpower projects a “modest” job market, based on its survey of employers. Unemployment stood at 8.4 percent in November.

Meanwhile, Fayetteville, where expansion programs at Fort Bragg continue, is expected to have one of the best job markets in the country, Manpower reports. Fayetteville reported 9 percent unemployment in November.

From January through March, 4 percent more employers plan to expand payroll – 13 percent overall – than those who are looking to cut workers – 9 percent.

The vast majority of firms, 74 percent, expect to keep payroll at existing levels. The remaining 4 percent aren’t sure.

In Durham-Chapel Hill, the news is not quite as good as 1 percent more of employers – or 12 percent overall – are looking to hire while 11 percent are expecting to make further reductions.

Most firms, at 74 percent, expect to keep work force levels stable. The other 3 percent are unsure.

Companies are much more optimistic in Fayetteville with 19 percent looking to hire people compared to 8 percent who expect to make cuts.

Some 69 percent of employers are looking to keep their employee numbers stable. Four percent remain unsure.

Statewide, unemployment remains among the highest in the country at 11 percent.

Nationally, the hiring picture remains bleak. With unemployment at 10 percent, some 12 percent of companies are looking to hire while the same percentage is expecting to make layoffs.

The big majority of companies, 73 percent, are anticipating no changes. Another 3 percent are unsure.

Manpower surveyed more than 28,000 companies.

The survey results didn’t surprise Dr. Michael Walden, an economist at North Carolina State University.

“These forecasts are directly in line with how economists are assessing the economy,” Walden told WRAL.com and Local Tech Wire. “There has been an increase in optimism compared to the summer, ands this is reflected in the more positive expectations for hiring in 2010. The "consensus" economic forecast suggests net job gains beginning in the first or second quarter of 2010.”

Walden added that the Fayetteville findings reflect military spending as the pentagon pours more resources into Fort Bragg as part of an ongoing base restructuring plan.

“The Fayetteville labor market has weathered the recession better than any other metro area in N.C., including the Triangle,” Walden said.

“The big reason is the important presence of the military, which has provided a recession-proof stability better than any other industry. Specifically, Fort Bragg has experienced expansion – with plans for more – in recent years.”

One finding in the survey did catch Walden off guard.

“One surprise is the lack of positive hiring plans in durable manufacturing,” he said. “This sector should be one of the first to rebound, and I would actually expect some modest job gains there in 2010, particularly in technology and high value-added products.”

In Raleigh-Cary, Manpower’s Michael Doyle noted that the job picture had improved from the previous quarter when only 6 percent of companies planned to make hires while 12 percent were expecting to make cuts.

“Employers are slightly more optimistic about hiring activity as compared to one year ago, when 13 percent of companies surveyed planned to increase staff levels and 11 percent expected to cut payrolls,” he said.

In Durham-Chapel Hill, however, the picture has worsened a bit.

“Compared with the previous quarter when 16 percent of companies interviewed intended to add employees, and 9 percent planned to reduce staff levels, area hiring levels appear to be weaker,” Doyle explained. “Employers are less optimistic about hiring activity as compared to one year ago, when 19 percent of companies surveyed planned to increase staff levels and 12 percent expected to cut payrolls.”

Manpower’s Amanda Fulp reported that the Fayetteville jobs picture is much better than last quarter and an improvement over a year ago.

“Compared with the previous quarter when 11 percent of companies interviewed intended to add employees, and 11 percent planned to reduce staff levels, area hiring levels appear to be significantly stronger,” Fulp said. “Employers are slightly more optimistic about hiring activity as compared to one year ago, when 16 percent of companies surveyed planned to increase staff levels and 8 percent expected to cut payrolls.”

Employment plans by sector in Raleigh-Cary:

Hiring:

  • Nondurable Goods Manufacturing
  • Wholesale & Retail Trade
  • Information
  • Leisure and Hospitality
  • Other Services
  • Government

Looking to cut:

  • Durable Goods Manufacturing
  • Financial Activities
  • Professional
  • Business Services

Stable:

  • Construction
  • Transportation and Utilities
  • Education
  • Health Services

The job market outlook in Durham-Chapel Hill:

Hiring:

  • Wholesale and Retail Trade
  • Professional and Business Services
  • Leisure and Hospitality

Cutting back:

  • Construction
  • Nondurable Goods Manufacturing
  • Information
  • Financial Activities
  • Education
  • Health Services
  • Other Services

Stable:

  • Durable Goods Manufacturing
  • Transportation and Utilities
  • Government

The Fayetteville market:

Hiring:

  • Nondurable Goods Manufacturing
  • Wholesale and Retail Trade
  • Financial Activities
  • Leisure and Hospitality
  • Other Services
  • Government

Cutting back:

  • Durable Goods Manufacturing
  • Transportation and Utilities

Stable:

  • Construction
  • Information
  • Professional and Business Services
  • Education and Health Services