Manpower issued its respected Employment Outlook Survey on Tuesday that said employers anticipate small staffing gains in the first quarter of 2011. Although the outlook, says Manpower, is still below the average of the past 10 years, the picture is nonetheless brighter.
The seasonally adjusted Net Employment Outlook is +9 percent, says Manpower. That’s up from the +5 percent of a year ago and up from the +5 percent for the current, 4th quarter of 2010.
The Net Employment Outlook is the percentage of employers saying they plan to hire over the percentage who expect to cut staff. Almost three-quarters of the 18,000 surveyed employers say they expect to make no changes in staffing.
Another survey, this one of CFOs done by the Bank of America, says larger companies are even more likely to hire in 2011. The survey says that 47 percent of businesses with revenue in the $25 million to $2 billion range plan to increase staff during the year. That’s a big improvement over the 28 percent who said that at the start of 2010.
The survey also showed them somewhat more optimistic about their own company’s prospects. Last year 61 percent of the CFOs surveyed expected improvement in their company’s revenue. This year, 64 percent do.
It may not be a booster club for the economy — they gave the economy a score of 47 out of 100 — but it does add to the sense that the U.S. is climbing out of the hole.
Brian Moynihan, B of A CEO and president, said in a PBS interview the other night, “I think we’re in a recovery and we continue to make progress for it.”
Article Continues Below
To get companies to do more hiring, Moynihan said they have to believe that their top line is going to be improving and the recovery will continue.
That’s not so easy, of course. Earlier this year, when the U.S. Census was hiring hundreds of thousands of workers and the stock market was rising, there was a sense of optimism that the nation was on the right track. The Consumer Confidence Index in May was at 63.3, its highest point in two years. Grant Thornton’s Business Optimism Index stood at 67.6, more than 13 points higher than the year before. And 63 percent of the business leaders it surveyed thought the U.S. economy was improving.
Now, business leaders are more cautious and consumers wary. The Consumer Confidence Index is rising, but only a bit every month, after falling sharply since May. In November it was at 54.1. The most recent Grant Thornton survey says only 47 percent of business leaders believe the economy is improving. Better than the August survey when only 34 percent thought that.
What these surveys and others are saying is that most of us — consumers and business leaders — are hopeful, but we need to be convinced that what the data is showing is both real and sustainable.