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LABOUR: SA Employers Forecast Slight Increase in Staffing Levels

 





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JOHANNESBURG The Manpower Employment Outlook Survey of local hiring trends released today reveals that South African employers expect a slight decline in job growth in the upcoming quarter. Once seasonal variations* are removed from the data, South Africa’s Net Employment Outlook stands at a cautiously optimistic +3%.

South African employers forecast positive job growth for the first quarter of 2011 with 13 percent of employers expecting to increase payrolls, 8 percent forecasting a decrease, and 79 percent expecting no change to their payrolls during the coming quarter.

While the first quarter 2011 result is weaker than the fourth-quarter Outlook reported in 2010, hiring intentions are mostly positive. However, the Outlook represents a moderate decline quarter-over-quarter and a more considerable decline year-over-year. Employers in nine of 10 industry sectors and in four of five regions report weaker quarter-over-quarter hiring plans. In a year-over-year comparison, Outlooks are weaker in eight of 10 industry sectors and in three of five regions.

Peter Winn, Manpower South Africa Managing Director comments on the South African Outlook: “We are seeing a softer labour demand. However, rather than a general slowdown in business activity, it appears that our employers are coupling modest optimism with a cautious approach toward expenses and payrolls as we enter the first quarter of 2011. It’s also worth noting that the percentage of South African employers who indicated they would make ‘No Change’ to their staff levels increased from 78% in the third quarter to 83% this quarter. This suggests a measure of stability in the South African labour market with a significant portion of employers indicating they are determined to maintain the talent they have as we work towards recovery.”

This survey was conducted by interviewing a representative sample of 751 employers in South Africa, where all survey participants were asked “How do you anticipate total employment at your location to change in the three months to the end of March 2011 as compared to the current quarter?”
The Net Employment Outlook for South Africa is derived by taking the percentage of employers anticipating total employment to increase, and subtracting from this, the percentage expecting to see a decrease in employment at their location in the next quarter.

South Africa is part of the widely acclaimed Manpower Employment Outlook Survey, which asks nearly 62,000 employers across 39 countries to help measure anticipated employment trends each quarter.

Employers in three of the five regions forecast positive headcount growth in the first quarter of 2011. Free State and Western Cape employers report cautiously optimistic hiring plans with Net Employment Outlooks of +8%, and slow-paced headcount gains are predicted in Gauteng, where the Outlook is +4%. However, in both Kwazulu Natal and Eastern Cape, employers anticipate negative headcount growth, reporting Outlooks of -6% and -2%, respectively.

• Opportunities for job seekers are strongest in Free State and Western Cape. Free State employer hiring intentions decline by 3 percentage points quarter-over-quarter but improve by 3 percentage points year-over-year. The Western Cape Outlook is unchanged quarter-over-quarter and improves by 2 percentage points when compared to the first quarter 2010.
• Employers in the Kwazulu Natal report the weakest regional hiring plans. The Outlook declines by 9 and 15 percentage points from the fourth quarter 2010 and the first quarter 2010, respectively, and is the weakest regional Outlook since the survey began in the fourth quarter 2006.
• The Outlook in the Eastern Cape is also the least optimistic reported by the region’s employers since the survey began.

Employers in six of the 10 industry sectors anticipate an increase in staffing levels during the first quarter of 2011. The most encouraging hiring prospects are reported in the Wholesale and Retail Trade sector, where the Net Employment Outlook stands at +10%. Electricity, Gas and Water Supply sector employers report a cautiously optimistic Outlook of +8% and some gains are forecast by employers in both the Finance, Insurance, Real Estate and Business Services sector and the Restaurants and Hotels sector, with Outlooks of +6%. Meanwhile, Manufacturing sector employers forecast an uncertain hiring climate with an Outlook of -2%.

• Employers in the Wholesale and Retail Trade industry sector are reporting South Africa’s strongest hiring expectations, however the Outlook declines 8 and 3 percentage points quarter-over-quarter and year-over-year, respectively.
• Employers in the Manufacturing industry sector report the weakest hiring expectations. The forecast is 1 percentage point weaker from the previous quarter but improves slightly by 2 percentage points from the first quarter 2010.
• Employers in the Agriculture, Hunting, Forestry and Fishing industry sector report the least optimistic forecast since the survey began in the fourth quarter 2006.

Internationally, results for the first quarter 2011 suggest a more positive start to the new year for the global labor market. Data reveals improved hiring expectations from 12 months ago in 28 of 39 countries and territories, including the G7 countries where hiring plans are stable or improved in a quarter-over-quarter and year-on-year comparison.

Employers in Bulgaria, Slovenia and Turkey join the EMEA countries in the survey for the first time in Quarter 1 2011. First-quarter hiring expectations remain mixed, with employers in 14 countries reporting varying degrees of positive hiring activity. While Net Employment Outlooks weaken in 11 countries from three months ago, a year-over-year comparison reveals stronger Outlooks in 12 countries. Hiring expectations are strongest in Turkey, Germany and Sweden. In contrast, employers in Greece, the Czech Republic, Austria, Ireland, Spain and Romania report the weakest and only negative forecasts globally.

Meanwhile, hiring intentions among U.S. employers remain modest, however signal the most optimistic first-quarter outlook in three years. Employers in Brazil, Peru and Panama report the strongest hiring intentions within the region. Job seekers in Guatemala and the United States are likely to encounter the region’s weakest employment prospects, although employers in both countries expect a modest hiring pace to continue in the first three months of the year.

Job prospects continue to be robust across the Asia Pacific region with Chinese and Indian employers reporting the most optimistic hiring intentions globally. Job prospects improve or remain stable in six of the countries and territories surveyed. Regional hiring plans continue to be strongest in India, China and Taiwan, and weakest in Japan despite employers there reporting five consecutive quarters of steadily improving Outlooks. India’s hiring pace continues to be dynamic as more than half of all Service sector employers plan to add to their workforces.

* Seasonal adjustments applied to the data make it possible to review the data without the employment fluctuations that “normally” occur at the same time each year, thus providing a clearer picture of labour market trends over time.


 
 
 
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