New year employment prospects ‘worst on record’

A Manpower
survey of more than 2,000 companies across 19 industries predicts that the
first quarter of 2002 will show the steepest quarter-on-quarter fall in
employment in the 33 year history of the research.

The "net
job gains" figure has dropped from 20 to 0, equalling the fall recorded in
1999.

16
per cent of companies expect to lay off staff between January and March; the
same number expect to take on more employees.

The
companies questioned were asked if they expected an increase, decrease or no
change in staffing levels and a figure was produced by subtracting the
percentage expecting a reduction by the percentage expecting a rise.

In
the previous quarter, directly after 11 September, 30 per cent of firms
expected an increase, with only 10 per cent expecting a fall.

The
respective figures for the first quarter of 2001 showed 25 per cent of
employers were anticipating taking on more staff and 13 per cent expected to shed
employees

Geographically,
the South is most confident. The North West and North East anticipate significant
job losses.

In
1999, when the net job gain was also zero the figure immediately picked up in
the second quarter, but this survey warns that such a quick recovery is
unlikely this time.

Iain
Herbertson, managing director of Manpower said: “Only healthcare and building
are showing strong signs of confidence. Most others, especially leisure,
retail, manufacturing and telecommunications are in at least short-term
decline.

“No
one region can be said to be significantly optimistic, with London’s prospects
the worst they have been sine 1994.”

By Ross Wigham

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