NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - If finding a new job is one of your New Year's resolutions, you'll be happy to know the hiring prospects for the first-quarter are much brighter than a year earlier, according to a Manpower survey released Tuesday.
Twenty-four percent of the 16,000 employers surveyed said they anticipate an increase in hiring during the first quarter, according to the survey. Twenty-eight percent of employers had said they would boost their staffing in the fourth quarter and a year earlier about 20 percent of companies said they would increase their payrolls.
Seasonal hiring trends account for most of the drop-off in hiring from the fourth quarter, Manpower said. Adjusting for those factors, the first-quarter outlook shows employer confidence is rising.
"The job picture moving into 2005 is decidedly more upbeat than it was at the start of 2004. For the past three quarters, employers' hiring intentions have been steady and strong," said Jeffrey A. Joerres, chairman & CEO of employment services firm Manpower Inc.
Ten percent of employers said they were planning to decrease their staff, down from 13 percent a year earlier, according to Manpower. Fifty-nine percent said they foresee no change in first-quarter hiring and 7 percent are unsure about their hiring plans.
Employers in four of the 10 sectors covered by the survey expect hiring to pick up. Hiring in five of those 10 sectors is expected to remain on par with the fourth-quarter. Employers in only one sector, education, said hiring would slow.
The Finance/Insurance/Real Estate sector is expected to be among the leading hirers, with employers expecting to increase their staffing levels by a seasonally-adjusted 24 percent.
"Nearly 25 years have passed since employers in this sector were so eager to take on additional staff," said Joerres.
Let's get regional
The South wins in terms of strongest overall hiring gains on a seasonally adjusted basis, while the Northeast had the smallest gains.
In the South, 23 percent of all employers to plan to hire more workers. Employers in six of the 10 sectors covered by the survey, including construction and public administration, were more positive about hiring in the first-quarter than in the fourth. The education sector, however, predicted a sharp fall-off in payrolls.
In the West, 22 percent of firms foresee increased hiring. Hiring will be particularly robust in mining, education, wholesale/retail trade, and finance/insurance/real estate. Manufacturing, construction, and public administration will see fewer job gains.
In the Midwest, 19 percent of all employers say they will increase their payrolls. The largest percentage of firms expecting to boost hiring are in mining, finance/insurance/real estate, public administration, and services. Job prospects in transportation/public utilities and education are expected to soften.
In the Northeast, 18 percent of all companies predict an increase in hiring. The construction, public administration, and mining sectors are expected to strengthen in the first-quarter, while hiring prospects in manufacturing and transportation/public utilities are expected to pull back.
Manpower Employment Outlook Survey, conducted quarterly, measures employers' intentions to increase or decrease the number of employees in their workforce during the next quarter. The next survey will be released on March 15 to report hiring expectations for the second quarter of 2005.