UK employment prospects are at their poorest since 1999, according to a survey of survey of employers across 18 countries. But compared to much of the rest of Europe, the UK economy is doing well.
The Manpower Employment Outlook Survey is based on interviews with 30,000 public and private employers to provide a forecast of employer hiring intentions for the next quarter (July to September 2003).
The UK's Net Employment Outlook - calculated by subtracting those employers who plan to reduce staffing levels from those who plan to hire staff - is +13 per cent, the most positive result in Europe along with Spain and Ireland.
Elsewhere, Italy has a Net Employment Outlook of +8 per cent. But the picture in other European countries is muck bleaker, with Germany reporting a figure of -10 per cent and Belgium -2 per cent.
In stark contrast to the figures for European economies, Canada reported the highest results in the Survey, with 30 per cent more companies planning to recruit than make redundancies.
The US, despite a positive result of +11 per cent, has reported its lowest Net Employment Outlook for quarter three in more than 12 years.
In Asia Pacific, Australia's prospects are positive but the forecast in Japan and Hong Kong is considerably lower (-4 per cent and -5 per cent respectively).
Analysis in the UK shows 7 of the 9 sectors are planning to take on staff in the quarter ahead, although employers in both Transport & Communications (-5 per cent) and Agriculture (-1 per cent) are planning to reduce staffing levels.
For the second consecutive quarter Utilities has the most positive result when compared to the other sectors surveyed in the report, with a Net Employment Outlook of +34 per cent. Construction continues to perform well reporting its second highest quarter three result in the last 5 years.
Manufacturing is the only sector with both quarter-on-quarter and year-on-year predicted hiring increases, a finding that is somewhat at odds with the normally gloomy forecasts for the sector.
Tony Howard, Managing Director of Manpower pointed out the figures for the UK were among the strongest in Europe: "In the UK, organisations in the Industry sector category which includes manufacturing and utilities has reported the strongest hiring forecast across Europe. Similarly, in Services, UK employers have predicted the third highest Net Employment Outlook, with Spain and Ireland leading the way."
Regionally, job prospects look most promising in the South West and East and gloomiest in London, whose Net Employment Outlook of +3 per cent is the weakest in the country.