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Temporary Job Firms See Slowdown Continuing - 2001-11-19

The slowdown in U.S. hiring will continue into the first quarter of 2002, according to a survey of 16,000 companies by Manpower, Incorporated. Manpower, the United States' largest temporary staffing firm, surveys employers every three months on their hiring intentions.

Seventy-seven percent of the firms polled by Manpower do not plan to hire more workers in the first quarter of 2002, and 16 percent anticipate further layoffs.

Compared to one year ago at this time, Mr. Joerres says, hiring intentions are down 80 percent.

"We saw ... 2001 to be very soft, but it is down dramatically and, in fact, depending on the industry, it is at recession levels. Durable goods manufacturing, their hiring intentions for the first quarter of 2002 is the lowest in the 25 year history of our survey," he said.

While other sectors are not doing as badly as manufacturing, Mr. Joerres says, the survey indicates the job outlook for the first three months of 2002 will be worse than it is today.

"These are long term plans. We are asking about the future. And companies are very cautious and looking at their own organizations and saying "How can I reduce?" There is still concern for the talent, but there is more concern that the economy is not on its bottom, and therefore hiring is not at its bottom either," he said.

The Manpower findings are similar to those of other recent surveys. Economist Bill Dunkleberger, of the National Federation of Independent Businesses says, for example, that hiring by small companies has virtually collapsed since the September 11 terrorist attacks.

In August, Mr. Dunkleberger says, hiring plans by small companies were the strongest they had been all year.

"And then we had the unfortunate shock early in September and that really changed people's outlook by introducing a very contagious disease called "uncertainty," probably the worst thing the economy can catch. The uncertainty about future sales translates into a major reduction in hiring plans," he said.

That is unfortunate, Mr. Dunkleberger says, because small businesses, those with fewer than 500 employees, create 75 percent of the new jobs in the country.