Employers in Baltimore, the South and the nation have gazed into their crystal balls and predicted very few tall, dark strangers, or anyone else, will join their payrolls during the fourth quarter.
Manpower Temporary Services Inc.'s quarterly Employment Outlook, a survey of corporate confidence in the economy, shows most companies plan no change in employment during the last three months of the year.
The survey says 64 percent of employers in 10 industries nationwide said they planned neither layoffs nor new hires during the fourth quarter.
Still, because 21 percent of employers predicted new hires and 12 percent said they planned to lay off workers, the Manpower survey forecasts a net increase of hiring among 9 percent of the companies surveyed.
Manpower noted that the numbers were adjusted upward to reflect the typically lower fourth-quarter hiring activity in most industries.
Most optimistic were employers in the Midwest, where 23 percent said they planned to hire more people in the fourth quarter.
In the South, which includes the District of Columbia and 16 states, including Maryland, 22 percent of employers said they planned to increase hiring activity.
The most optimistic employers in the every region were those involved in wholesale and retail trade, according to Manpower.
In the South, 30 percent of those employers surveyed reported plans to hire more people, while 10 percent said they were planning to reduce their staff.
In manufacturing, 22 percent of Southern employers said they would hire more people in the fourth quarter; 13 percent of durable-goods manufacturers and 8 percent of non-durable-goods manufacturers said they would lay off employees in the last three months of the year.
In Baltimore, the pervading mood was caution, said Becky Scott, who finished her survey of 90 area companies in mid-July for the local office of Manpower.
"Here in the Baltimore area no one's doing much of anything," Ms. Scott said. "I think everybody's kind of sitting on their money."