Hires To Be Delayed At Least Three Months

Survey Shows Recession Halting New Openings

December 24, 1990|By Lorraine Mirabella | Lorraine Mirabella,Staff writer

The economic slowdown will force companies in Annapolis and near Baltimore-Washington International Airport to cut back on new hires for at least three months, a quarterly employment survey shows.

Job forecasts from January through March, compared with forecasts for those months in 1990, show that fewer companies will hire workers, while more companies plan layoffs.

The predictions come from Milwaukee-based Manpower Inc., which surveyed more than 15,000 public and private employers in 466 cities nationwide. The temporary help firm has measured changes in employment levels for 15 years.

This survey shows more businesses laying off than hiring for the first time since the beginning of 1983. A similar pattern at that time reflected the lingering effects of the 1982 recession.

Nationally, only 15 percent of firms interviewed plan to add workers, while 16 percent intend to trim their work force, resulting in a hiring drop of 1 percent.

"Hiring activity is reaching recession depths in all regions except the Midwest, and the trend covers all categories of business," the Manpower report says.

Anne Arundel County employment areas have fared somewhat better than the nation as a whole, said Leslie Hunt, marketing coordinator for Manpower.

"Locally, we're seeing a lot of different numbers than a year ago, but we're holding up pretty well," Hunt said. "I don't think it's alarming by any means. It could be worse. Massachusetts and the Northeast area are getting hit a lot harder."

Though job markets in Maryland and the southern United States show the weakest employment conditions in 15 years, hiring levels top national averages.

The survey shows:

* In the airport area, 14 percent of companies surveyed intend to add workers, a drop from last year when 21 percent projected employment increases.

Forecasts remained the same this year for work force cutbacks, with 14 percent of companies surveyed expecting cutbacks. This year, 72 percent of firms plan no hiring changes.

* In Annapolis, only 7 percent of firms surveyed expect to hire by March, while 17 percent foresee cutbacks. An additional 69 percent plan no changes; 7 percent remain undecided.

A year ago, 17 percent projected more jobs, while 13 percent intended to trim staff size.

"The pendulum has swung in both of these areas," Hunt said. "It's disappointing when you compare it to last year."

* In the Baltimore/Washington Common Market area, 15 percent of those questioned plan to add workers and 17 percent predict cutbacks. An additional 63 percent plan no changes and 5 percent remain undecided.

Just a year ago, 24 percent projected increased employment while 11 percent planned to cut positions.

Typically, first-quarter hiring drops off from fourth-quarter levels, but the sluggish economy has contributed to steeper-than-usual declines, the survey says.

For the upcoming quarter near BWI, positions should be available in durable goods manufacturing and education, while few jobs will be available in construction and public administration.

In Annapolis, Manpower expects openings in transportation/public utilities and service fields, while few jobs will open in construction, durable goods manufacturing, wholesale/retail trade and public administration.

Nationwide, the construction field shows the steepest decline in predicted employment. Only 10 percent of those companies surveyed expect to hire, while 27 percent expect to layoff workers.

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