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hiring plans weakest since 1982 recession

Manpower Employment Outlook Survey Reveals Continuation of Global Hiring Slowdown Through the Second Quarter of 2009

U.S. hiring plans weakest since 1982 recession, as the downturn takes its toll on Asia Pacific job prospects.

The Manpower Employment Outlook Survey of global hiring trends released today reveals that employers worldwide say they will continue to cut back on hiring in the second quarter of 2009 compared to one year ago, with U.S. employers reporting the gloomiest outlook since the 1982 recession. In the Asia Pacific region, labor market conditions are expected to deteriorate at a surprisingly rapid rate.

The survey of nearly 72,000 employers worldwide conducted by Manpower Inc. (NYSE: MAN), shows that employers in 13 of 33 countries and territories still expect some positive hiring activity in the coming quarter however, hiring expectations are considerably weaker in all countries and territories surveyed compared to this time last year. In fact, employers in 23 countries and territories are reporting their weakest hiring plans since the surveys were established there by Manpower.

"Hiring forecasts from all of the G7 countries are notably weaker compared to 12 months ago confirming that the global labor market will continue to contract - only outlooks from employers in Canada and Germany have not slipped into negative territory," said Jeffrey A. Joerres, Chairman and CEO of Manpower Inc. "Meanwhile, hiring patterns in the U.S. have declined to those seen during the recession of 1982, yet a significant number of employers surveyed anticipate no change in their employment intentions. This tells us that in this difficult economic environment, employers are struggling to manage the tension between generating a profit and maintaining their workforce infrastructure.

"Employers in Asia Pacific expect the downturn to take a toll on job prospects," added Joerres. "Interestingly, employers in the important emerging market of India expect to edge up the pace of hiring from three months ago, suggesting some resilience in the quarter ahead."
Of the eight countries and territories surveyed in the Asia Pacific region, India is showing more positive intentions than any other country. But despite Indian employers' improved outlook from three months ago, the expected hiring pace remains much weaker than that of prior years. Employers in Singapore, New Zealand and Taiwan expect the deepest cuts to their payrolls compared to three months ago.

"The caution that began to set in across Asia Pacific during the first three months of the year is expected to accelerate in the second quarter. Despite the fact that this period is typically a peak hiring season in many of the markets we survey, our data shows extremely weak hiring ahead for the region, similar to the pace seen in 2003 during the SARS pandemic," said Joerres. "The Manufacturing sector has been particularly hard hit in China in response to weaker global demand for exports. The picture is similar in Japan, Australia and Singapore where hiring optimism is the weakest since our survey was established."

Of the 17 countries surveyed in the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region, only employers in South Africa, Poland, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium and Norway are reporting positive, but modest, second-quarter hiring activity. However, in countries where year-over-year comparisons can be made, all expect cutbacks. In comparison to three months ago, only Outlooks from Austria, France and South Africa are relatively stable, while Italian employers report a slightly improved but still negative forecast.

"Companies will continue to come up with creative alternatives to downsizing, such as reduced work weeks, voluntary pay cuts and pay freezes to hold on to the people they have and get through this recession," said Joerres.

Job prospects throughout the Americas region are decidedly weaker, compared to both the first quarter and one year ago. Hiring is expected to be strongest in Colombia and Peru and weakest in Mexico, where employers are the most pessimistic about adding employees since Manpower began surveying there in 2002.

"Considerable year-over-year declines in the Mining and Transport/Storage/Communication sectors are contributing to the weakest job prospects since we established the survey in Mexico," said Joerres. "North of the border, the U.S. and Canadian labor markets are expected to contract considerably with Canadian employers in the Manufacturing-Durables sector reporting the slowest hiring pace since the 1991 downturn. Prospects are equally as gloomy for this sector in the U.S., where difficulties in the auto industry continue to force companies throughout the supply chain to keep hiring plans in neutral."


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