Positive job market predicted for Rockford in 2007

Rockford-area employers expect to hire at a steady pace during the first quarter of 2007, according to the Manpower Employment Outlook Survey.

From January to March, 30 percent of the companies interviewed plan to hire more employees, while 10 percent expect to reduce their payrolls, according to Manpower spokesman Doug Johnson. Another 60 percent expect to maintain their current staff levels.

“In the Rockford area, employers expect less hiring activity than in the fourth quarter when 37 percent of the companies interviewed intended to increase headcount, and 10 percent planned to decrease it,” said Johnson. “Employers are more optimistic about hiring than they were a year ago, when 20 percent of companies surveyed thought job gains were likely, and 10 percent intended to cut back.”

For the coming quarter, job prospects appear best in Non-Durable Goods Manufacturing, Services and Public Administration. Employers in Durable Goods Manufacturing and Wholesale/Retail Trade voice mixed hiring intentions. Hiring in Construction, Transportation/Public Utilities, Finance/Insurance/Real Estate and Education is expected to remain unchanged.

For more than two years, U.S. employers have consistently reported steady hiring plans. Although the first quarter job forecast is similar to last quarter and last year at this time, a subtle downward shift has emerged. While it is too early to note if this is a trend, this marks two consecutive quarters of more cautious hiring plans.

Of the 14,000 U.S. employers surveyed, 23 percent expect to add to their payrolls during the first quarter of 2007, while 11 percent expect to reduce staff levels. Sixty percent expect no change in the hiring pace, while 6 percent are undecided about their hiring plans for the first three months of the year.

From the Dec. 13-19, 2006, issue

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