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UK reports weakest employment outlook in over 7 years, ManpowerGroup reveals

Employers report steady employment outlooks for Q1 in most markets, though hiring intentions weaken year-over-year in 26 of 43 countries according to the latest ManpowerGroup Employment Outlook Survey (NYSE-MAN) of almost 60,000 global employers. The strongest year-over-year increases in hiring intentions were reported by employers in Turkey (up 9 percentage points), Greece (up 7 percentage points), Argentina and Norway (both up 5 percentage points). The steepest year-over-year decreases were reported by employers in Slovenia (down 13 percentage points), Slovakia, Hong Kong and Hungary (down 7 percentage points).


Employers in France reported the country’s strongest outlook in 12 years, while many of the EMEA region’s other markets saw outlooks weaken in an environment of trade and Brexit uncertainty. Germany’s outlook was the country’s lowest since Q3 2016, while the UK’s was its weakest since Q3 2012. In the Americas, employers in the US continue to report the region’s strongest hiring intentions, though their outlook declines slightly year-over-year. In the Asia Pacific region, employers in all markets but one report weaker hiring intentions year-over-year, with Hong Kong’s seven-percentage-point decrease and China’s three-percentage-point decrease marking the region’s biggest declines.


“We are seeing more hesitant hiring plans for Q1, impacted by increased volatility and expectations of slowing economic growth, especially in the manufacturing sector.” Said Jonas Prising, ManpowerGroup chairman & CEO. “At the same time, employers are also struggling to find the required skills within labor markets experiencing high numbers of open positions alongside low unemployment. As digital transformation and talent shortages continue, employers are realizing that they cannot always go to market to find new skills when they need them and that we need to become builders of talent to develop a workforce with the skills organizations need to remain competitive.”


Global hiring plans by region


EMEA: The strongest Q1 employment outlooks are reported by employers in Greece (+25%), Romania (+14%), Norway (+10%) and Turkey (+10%), as hiring plans remain strong but weaken in some of the region’s largest economies.


  • Employers in France report the strongest hiring intentions in 12 years (+7%), driven by a record-high +19% outlook in restaurants & hotels, a +10% outlook in manufacturing and a +8% outlook in finance & business services.
  • Germany recorded an outlook of +4%, a decrease of five percentage points year-over-year and the third consecutive quarter of declines. Manufacturing (+1%) and finance & business services (+3%) outlooks were the weakest for almost four and 10 years, respectively.
  • The +2% outlook reported by employers in the UK is the weakest in over seven years. Employers in London reported a -1% outlook, the region’s lowest in over nine years, with the +1% overall outlook for England the joint lowest on record. Employers in the manufacturing (+2%) and mining & quarrying (+2%) sectors were the only industries with year-over-year increases.


Americas: Employers in all but one of the 10 countries surveyed report positive hiring outlooks, with Panama’s -1% the only negative forecast both regionally and globally. Employers in seven of the region’s 10 markets report weaker outlooks year-over-year.


  • US employers (+19%) report nine consecutive quarters of the region’s most optimistic hiring intentions, though the outlook is down one percentage point year-over-year. The strongest hiring plans are reported by employers in leisure & hospitality (+30%), construction (+22%), professional & business services (+22%) and wholesale & retail trade (+22%), though hiring intentions weakened year-over-year in 10 of the 13 sectors surveyed.
  • Employers in Argentina and Brazil reported the region’s biggest year-over-year hiring increases, by five and two percentage points, respectively. Outlooks in the construction sector were significant contributors to these increases, with hiring intentions increasing by 22 percentage points in Argentina and 10 percentage points in Brazil.
  • Panama’s -1% outlook was the only nationwide negative figure of all 43 countries surveyed. The country’s manufacturing sector saw employer hiring intentions weaken by 14 percentage points both year-over-year and quarter-over-quarter.


Asia Pacific: Outlooks from employers in Japan (+25%) and Taiwan (+23%) rank among the strongest globally for the second consecutive quarter, while Chinese employers report the region’s weakest outlook at +6%.


  • For the seventh consecutive quarter, employers in Japan report the strongest outlook (+25%) in the Asia Pacific region, driven by the mining & construction (+38%) and services (+29%) sectors.
  • Singapore’s +9% outlook marked the region’s strongest quarter-over-quarter increase, of five percentage points. This was driven by growing hiring intentions in the public admin/education and finance, insurance & real estate sectors, which grew year-over-year by 16 and 8 percentage points, respectively.
  • Despite recording a two-percentage-point increase in hiring intentions compared with the previous quarter, employers in China reported the Asia Pacific region’s weakest outlook at +6%.


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