Hiring expected to slow in the fourth quarter, survey finds
Monday, September 13, 2010
Washington area employers are less optimistic about their ability to expand payroll in the final three months of this year than they were in the third quarter, with twice as many saying they may have to cut staff.
A new Manpower Employment Outlook Survey depicts what appears to be a slow unraveling of the heady times earlier this year when confidence about the recovery was high and hiring rose, reflecting to some experts the drawdown of government stimulus money and growing uneasiness about the national economy.
"This area got a good chunk of the stimulus money. For a while there, things were booming, but that has ground to a halt by and large," said Mike Kostrzewa, director of human resources at YRCI, a Fairfax-based professional services and recruiting company that supplies contract workers to the federal government. Professional and business services, which includes contracting, is the region's largest sector.
There are "definitely fewer [new] r jobs and companies are holding steady for the next six months or so," he said, adding that the government's move to bring more work in-house is also reducing the need for contractors. "It doesn't look like there will be a huge influx of federal money coming to contractors."
Twenty-three percent of the employers surveyed said they planned to increase their payroll from October to December. That is up substantially from the 10 percent that said they would hire in the fourth quarter of 2009 -- but the same percentage that said they would do so in the third quarter.
The numbers show that Washington area employers are more optimistic than their counterparts across the nation. , Still, 8 percent said they planned to decrease staff in the fourth quarter, compared with 4 percent in the third quarter. As a result, Manpower's net employment outlook dropped to 15 percent in the fourth quarter from 19 percent in the third quarter.
"There's a decrease in the net outlook," said Chuck Ray, regional director of Manpower's D.C. and Northern Virginia operations. "The total net outlook gives us an indication of what's going on with hiring, but [there are] no anecdotal questions to give us a broader outlook" on why confidence is slipping.
Unemployment in the region reached a record high of 6.9 percent in January. But fueled by a surge in hiring, the rate fell to 5.9 percent by April. The rate has since crept back up to 6.3 percent, driven by a cool-down in hiring and an influx of long-term unemployed people resuming their job search.
The hiring slowdown is bad news for workers who already are stretched thin, experts say.
"Something is going on in the marketplace -- there will be revolt," said Mitchell Halaby, senior executive recruiter at Ajilon Finance, a subsidiary of the Adecco employment agency. "There's going to come a point in time when employees say enough is enough ... At the end of day, what's happening is you're not going to get productivity out of people you like."