Hiring in '08: Slower but steady gains
Survey of hiring managers by CareerBuilder shows fewer plan to add staff, though hiring still outpaces cutting.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Employers are trimming their hiring plans but still expect to add workers in 2008, according to a survey released Wednesday.
Online job search site CareerBuilder.com said its survey of 3,016 hiring managers and human resource professionals in the private sector found that 32 percent of companies plan to increase the number of full-time, permanent employees in the upcoming year. A year ago, 40 percent said they expected to add staff.
"Employers are taking caution in the New Year, anticipating the advent of a slower, but still steady hiring environment," said Matt Ferguson, chief executive of the Web site.
The survey found that 8 percent of employers expect to trim staff in 2008.
The strongest hiring plans were reported by companies in professional and business services and information technology; 45 percent of respondents in both areas said they expect to add jobs. That's followed by transportation and utility employers (37 percent), financial services (34 percent) and hospitality (32 percent). In the health care and retail sectors, 28 percent of hiring managers reported plans to add staff.
The South should see the best job growth with 36 percent of employers planning to add staff, followed by 34 percent of employers in the West, 31 percent in the Northeast and 28 percent in the Midwest.
The survey also found that employers are having trouble filling open positions. Nearly 20 percent reported that it typically takes two months or longer to fill open spots, while 40 percent say they have open positions for which they can't find qualified candidates.
The relatively strong outlook for hiring found that nearly two out of three employers expect to raise salaries of existing employees by 3 percent, while 17 percent anticipate increases of 5 percent or more. And employers will also be paying more to new hires: 56 percent said they expect to increase salaries on initial offers, up from 49 percent in 2007.
In addition, 39 percent of employers say they plan to provide more flexible work arrangements, such as compressed workweeks and telecommuting options, as a way of hiring or retaining employees.
Government figures showed slower hiring in 2007, especially in the latter half of the year. There was a net gain of 1.3 million jobs in the first 11 months of 2007, according to the Labor Department, down 36 percent from the same period of 2006. And the average seasonally-adjusted job gain came in at about 99,000 a month since July, compared with just over 134,000 a month added the first six months of the year, and 189,500 a month added in the second half of 2006.
The Labor Department is due to release its December jobs report on Jan 4. Economists surveyed by Briefing.com are forecasting a gain of only 70,000 jobs in December, with the unemployment rate forecast to rise to 4.8 percent from 4.7 percent in November. That would put unemployment at a 17-month high.