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Employment outlook for rest of year strongest since crunch, says ManpowerGroup

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The UK’s employment outlook now stands at its strongest level since 2008, according to workforce solutions firm, ManpowerGroup.

With an outlook of +3%, employers across the UK are looking to take on staff in the final months of 2012, despite the gloomy macro-economic picture. The Manpower Employment Outlook Survey is based on responses from 2,100 UK employers. It asks whether employers intend to hire additional workers or reduce the size of their workforce in the coming economic quarter. The quarterly survey is used as a key economic statistic by both the Bank of England and the Government, the firm says.

The national Seasonally Adjusted Net Employment Outlook of +3% indicates that the jobs market is firmly in positive territory, building on the promise shown in the third quarter of 2012, when the outlook was +2%. “We have been saying that the jobs market is heading in the right direction since the beginning of the year,” said James Hick, UK managing director of ManpowerGroup Solutions.

“Understandably, this has been met with scepticism because of the disappointing GDP figures. However, in recent months the official employment statistics have started to catch up with our predictions. Over 300,000 jobs have been created this year – that’s a good year’s worth already. What we are seeing is a double dip jobs blip and the good news is that the UK jobs market is set for a further boost for the remainder of 2012, making it an extraordinary year for jobs and the strongest hiring environment of the year,” Hick added.

The latest figures show that for the first time in four years, UK employers of all sizes are hiring. Large (+7%), small (+5%), and medium-sized (+9%) businesses have indicated their intention to recruit for some time, but for the first time since the summer of 2008, micro sized business (those employing between 1-9 members of staff) are talking about taking on new staff.

Regionally, the survey reveals interesting disparities across the UK. Employers in Wales report the most optimism, with a +15% Outlook. The southern half of the UK continues to perform well, with the South West reporting an Outlook of +5%, the East of England +4%, and the South East +3%. However, businesses in London are not expecting a strong post-Olympic lift, although they do retain a positive Outlook of +2%.

There is no longer a clear North-South divide, according to the latest figures. Yorkshire and Humberside is the most negative region this time round, falling sharply to -8%, Scotland is also negative at -2% and the North West is down at -3%. In contrast, employers in the neighbouring North East report an Outlook of +9%. Meanwhile, in the East Midlands optimism remains at +6%, and the West Midlands shows similar positivity at +5%.

So which sectors are recruiting? Finance and business services is the most positive sector for Q4 2012, with a +9% Outlook. Meanwhile, manufacturing sector employers report an encouraging outlook of +5%. In the utilities sector, employers mirror the outlook of manufacturing employers, although it declines considerably from +14% in the last quarter. Construction remains firmly in negative territory with an outlook of -8%, albeit a small improvement on the last survey.