Even as employers nationwide slashed about 63,000 jobs last month, more than a quarter of U.S. companies said they plan to hire within the next three months, according to a survey of 14,000 companies.
Across the country, some 26 percent of companies expect to increase the size of their work force from April to June, according to the survey to be released today by Manpower Inc.
Stanislaus County employers expect to add to the work force during the next three months, according to the survey. Nearly half of the county firms surveyed -- 47 percent -- plan to hire more employees. Thirteen percent expect to reduce their payrolls.
Twenty-seven percent of Stanislaus County firms expect to maintain their current staff levels and 13 percent are not certain of their hiring plans.
Those hiring levels are "significantly stronger" than January through March, when just 17 percent of companies expected to add employees, said Cezanne Mills, Modesto area spokeswoman for Manpower.
Job opportunities in the Northern San Joaquin Valley are best in nondurable goods, manufacturing, transportation, public utilities, retail, education and services.
Industries that expect to reduce employees in Stanislaus County include construction, real estate, finance and public administration, according to the survey.
Nationwide, 9 percent plan a decrease, 60 percent predict no change and 5 percent are unsure, the Milwaukee-based global staffing company found.
The numbers are slightly worse than those for the same quarter last year, when 28 percent of employers expected to hire and 7 percent planned to cut jobs. But they're better than the predictions for the current quarter, when hiring was expected to outpace job cuts by a margin of just 10 percentage points.
The survey's margin of sampling error is less than plus or minus 1 percentage point.
The results show that employers are being more thoughtful in their hiring practices, but they're not scaling back full force, said Jonas Prising, Manpower's president for North America.
"Nobody's pulling the handbrakes yet," he said. "Everybody's braking somewhat. Everyone's cautious. Most sectors are being cautious."
The quarterly survey, conducted since 1962, predicts a modest slowdown in virtually every industry across the board, from manufacturing and mining to education and wholesale and retail trade.
The outlook was bleakest in the construction industry, in which 28 percent of companies anticipate growth and 13 percent expect job cuts.
Those numbers are down from the year-ago quarter, when 36 percent expected to hire and 7 percent planned to downsize. They're up from the current quarter, in which just 17 percent of companies expected to hire from January to March. But the first quarter is typically a slower period for the construction industry.
Stability in two industries
Respondents in two industries said hiring rates will remain stable in the coming quarter compared with the same quarter last year. Those are the service industry and the transportation and public utilities industry.
The Manpower results continue a 17-quarter stretch of fairly strong hiring intentions, in which at least 20 percent of companies surveyed said they planned to add to their staffs.
There was mixed news for the wholesale and retail trade industry, in which about a quarter of employers expect to hire in the coming quarter. That's 5 percent better than the previous quarter, but 3 percent worse than the same quarter last year.
Regionally, about two of every three employers in the Midwest and South expect staffing numbers to remain unchanged next quarter.
Prising said jobs can be had but job seekers will need to home in on regions and industries that are still seeing growth.
"You may have to move. You may have to look a bit harder," he said. "You may have to decide which sectors you want to focus on, but there are still employment opportunities out there."
Those areas include manufacturing in the West, Midwest and Northeast; education in the West; and transportation and utilities in the West and Northeast.
The elimination of 63,000 jobs in February was the most in one month since March 2003, according to Labor Department statistics.