Confidence amongst employers in London has reached its highest point since the start of 2001, with 15 percent more London employers expecting to take on staff in the first quarter of 2004 than expect to loose them.
But while the latest Manpower Employment Outlook Survey is good news for London, there is little cheer for the manufacturing sector. Despite signs of an manufacturing upturn, Manpower’s figures show the sector continues to perform poorly with a Net Employment Outlook (the balance of employers forecasting to take on more staff) of +3 percent, representing a year-on-year fall of 10 percentage points.
This poor figure reflects the lack of employer optimism recently cited by the CBI, which predicts that 36,000 industrial jobs will be lost between December 2003 and February 2004.
Manpower’s Hazel Detsiny says: “We’re seeing careful employer hiring intentions amongst UK businesses. The news from London is especially encouraging, where the outlook for jobs is back to pre-September 11th 2001 levels. London tends to lead employment growth across the country – and the good news is that many regions are also recording positive outlooks.
"The UK is also holding up well internationally," she added, "recording some of the strongest hiring forecasts not only in Europe but also across the world."
The Manpower Employment Outlook Survey provides a forecast of employer hiring intentions for the quarter ahead: January to March 2004. 2,500 UK employers were surveyed in the UK and over 35,000 employers in 18 countries globally.
But while the Net Employment Outlook for the UK in Q1 is +9 percent, there are big variations across the country and in different sectors.
Eleven of the twelve regions in the UK are planning to take on staff. Wales is the most positive region with an outlook of +24 percent representing a year-on-year increase of 15 percentage points. The North East also reports a positive outlook of +17 percent, considerably higher than the Q1 average for the region over the last six years (+5 percent). However, disappointing results were recorded in the East Midlands (+4 percent) where the region was down quarter-on-quarter and year-on-year, by 22 and 24 percentage points respectively.
Seven of the nine industry sectors surveyed are planning to take on staff next quarter, with the Transport & Communications sector recording a strong outlook of +13 percent, an increase of 11 percentage points over the year. Construction is the most positive sector surveyed with an outlook of +15 percent and the Hotels & Retail sector shows a positive outlook of +8 percent.
But along with the poor showing of the manufacturing sector, mining shows no change and agriculture shows a negative three per cent balance.
Looking at the European picture, the Net Employment Outlook figures are largely positive with the UK and Spain posting the most optimistic forecasts (+9 percent) just behind those reported by Norway (+10 percent).
Other European countries are reporting stable hiring levels with the exception of Germany, which has its most pessimistic outlook for three quarters at -14 percent, whilst Ireland has rebounded to an outlook of +3 percent from its previous negative outlook for Q4 2003.
In the Americas, Canada reported stable hiring intentions (+1 percent) in line with their historical first quarter trends whilst the US continued to perform strongly with an outlook of +7 percent. However, when seasonal variations are removed from these figures, the outlook increases over the last quarter from +10 percent to +13 percent.
At the Global level employers in Hong Kong are recording a noticeable increase in outlook to +12 percent thanks to strong growth in the Services sector. The labour market is expected to be stable elsewhere in the Asia Pacific region with Japan, Singapore, and Australia reporting only slight shifts in the job outlook for the first three months of the year.