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Archive for Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Survey: Lawrence employers’ hiring outlook bleak

June 18, 2003

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Lawrence employers are less optimistic about their hiring plans than they were a year ago, according to a survey released Tuesday.

Manpower Inc.'s Quarterly Employment Outlook Survey predicted area employers would expand their work force levels at a slower than normal rate during the third quarter.

During the July-to-September quarter, 13 percent of the companies surveyed planned to hire more employees, while 10 percent intended to reduce their work forces. The remaining 77 percent expected no change.

For the same period last year, the survey showed a more optimistic outlook with 27 percent of companies predicting hiring increases and none planning cutbacks. The results also represented a downturn from three months ago, when 20 percent predicted job increases and 7 percent anticipated reductions.

"It wasn't too much of a surprise," Nancy Slabaugh, district manager for Manpower's Lawrence office, said. "We were expecting the percentage would probably be down just due to the economy."

But Slabaugh said she had hopes the third quarter wouldn't be quite as bad as the survey predicted. The survey was taken in April during the war in Iraq.

Slabaugh said her company had seen a significant improvement in the number of temporary workers area firms were seeking to hire. She said the hiring of temporary workers generally was an indicator of the beginning of an economic rebound.

"We're hopeful that the fourth quarter will look much better and that by the first quarter of next year we might be on the rebound by then," Slabaugh said.

The survey indicated employment opportunities in Lawrence appeared best in construction, wholesale/retail trade, and finance, insurance and real estate. Manufacturing, education and public administration employers anticipated job reductions.

Lawrence's third quarter job outlook is one of the bleakest in the state, according to the survey. Lawrence was tied with the Manhattan/Junction City area for the slowest predicted job growth of the seven cities the company surveyed. Topeka and Hutchinson had the brightest job outlooks.

Statewide, the survey predicted 17 percent of companies would increase job totals while 6 percent would cut work force levels.

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