Employment prospects poorer than expected

Employment prospects in the UK continue to improve, but growth is slow and
confidence has not yet returned to pre-September 11 levels, according to a poll
of UK employers.

The survey by Manpower, asked more than 2,000 UK companies, split into 11
regions and 21 industry sectors, if they expect an increase, decrease or no
change in their staffing levels for this quarter, October to December.

In all, 28 per cent predict they will increase staffing levels, while 10 per
cent expect to decrease them, leaving a ‘net balance’ of 18 per cent planning
to take on new staff.

Iain Herbertson, Manpower’s UK managing director, commenting on the
findings, said: "Employment prospects are up 3 points on last quarter and
are the strongest this year, but are still down 2 points year-on-year and at
their lowest level for the fourth quarter since 1995."

"All sectors and regions we surveyed are planning to increase staffing
levels, but not at the pace we were expecting," he added.

Just over a third of high street retailers are anticipating an increase in
jobs for the fourth quarter, but a closer look shows that prospects in that
sector are in decline.

This time last year the sector was top of the league table, with 65 per cent
of employers predicting staffing increases in the fourth quarter.

Employment trends in the hotel and restaurant sector add weight to a view
that consumer confidence – or at least business confidence in consumer spending
– may be waning.

It has suffered the greatest quarter-on-quarter fall – declining by 20
points from a net balance of 41 per cent of firms expecting to increase
staffing to 21 per cent – and second largest year-on-year decrease of any

The health sector is the UK’s strongest for jobs, with 38 per cent of
employers planning to increase staffing levels in the period October to

By Ben Willmott


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