Data results from Asia-Pacific confirm the progress toward recovery we began to see in the final quarter of 2009. It indicates most labour markets should turn the corner across the region with employers expecting hiring to return to a pre-recession pace. And, while the global market remains difficult, in the US and Europe, we are seeing limited but continued positive signals, said Jeffrey A Joerres, chairman and CEO of Manpower Inc.
We have yet to see the robust hiring intentions we have seen in past recoveries. However, we are seeing clear signs of improvement. An increase in job prospects also means that companies will need to ensure they strengthen their employer brands, as companies will now start to experience higher attrition based on an improving employment outlook, he said.
Meanwhile, employment prospects in America remain muted, but have generally improved from past three months. In the US, employers are more optimistic than three months ago, but are still forecasting the weakest first-quarter hiring pace since 1982. Across Europe, hiring sentiments are mixed with employers in eight countries, indicating modest improvements compared to three months ago.
The Manpower survey shows employers in 25 of 35 countries and territories surveyed expect some positive hiring activity in the first quarter, while those reporting negative hiring expectations decreased from 15 three months ago to nine for the first quarter of 2010. However, employers in Belgium, the Czech Republic, Hungary, the Netherlands, Poland and Romania are reporting their weakest hiring plans to date. Employers in 19 countries and territories are reporting stronger year-on-year outlooks. First-quarter hiring plans are strongest in India, Brazil, Singapore, Taiwan, Costa Rica, Australia, Peru and Hong Kong, and weakest in Ireland, Romania and Spain. Of the 18 countries surveyed in the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region, hiring expectations are mixed, with employers in nine countries reporting positive hiring activity for the quarter ahead. Compared to three months ago, outlooks improved in nine EMEA countries and in eight where year-on-year comparisons can be made. Hiring activity in the region is expected to be strongest in Norway, Sweden and Germany.
Last quarter employers from only three European countries were reporting positive hiring activity and while we havent reached an inflection point yet, today there are eight countries indicating a more positive trend, said Joerres. Europe most likely will experience only incremental improvements until consumer demand becomes more robust. Germany is one of the regions bright spots, fueled partly by optimism in the finance and business services sector where 16 % of employers tell us they will add employees in the first three months of the year, he said.
In the Asia Pacific region, hiring plans are strongest in India, Singapore, Taiwan and Australia, with the weakest and only negative outlook again reported in Japan. Job prospects improve quarter-on-quarter in all eight countries and territories with the most notable gains seen in Australia, India and New Zealand. Year-on-year comparisons also reveal stronger hiring plans in all countries and territories, except Japan.
Manufacturing expectations are boosting optimism throughout the region with outlooks in this sector improving in every country and territory from both three months ago and last year at this time. Meanwhile, Indian employers in the services sector are pressing the hiring accelerator again in anticipation of their contract pipelines firming up -- 10% more expect to add employees in the next three months, said Joerres, adding, In stark contrast, Japanese employers remain reluctant to hire. This is bad news for job seekers in the months ahead, especially in the transportation and utilities sector, where 24% of employers are telling us they will reduce staff.
Of the nine countries surveyed in the Americas region, hiring expectations have improved somewhat from three months ago in all countries with the exception of Colombia. However, year-on-year comparisons remain mixed, with the most notable improvement reported by Mexican employers. Regional hiring plans are strongest in Brazil, Costa Rica and Peru. We continue to see signs of stabilisation in labour markets throughout the Americas, though job prospects remain muted.