Job survey finds slim pickings in Baltimore Rebound nationally yet to reach city

December 01, 1992|By Kim Clark | Kim Clark,Staff Writer

Job seekers should look to the South, Midwest, or even Maryland suburbs -- almost anywhere but Baltimore City, a new employer survey reported yesterday.

In its quarterly survey of hiring plans, Manpower Inc. found that many U.S. employers have turned the corner on the recession corner and are more likely to hire than fire in the first three months of 1993.

But Baltimore is one of a handful of American cities that will continue to lose a significant number of jobs in early 1993, the Milwaukee-based temporary services employment agency found after questioning 15,000 large employers last month.

Baltimore's prospects "were not very good to begin with. And now, they're worse," said James Bromstein, a Manpower senior vice president.

The survey, which looked at employers' plans to hire permanent workers, found that only 3 percent of Baltimore's employers planned to hire in 1993's first quarter. Layoffs were planned by 22 percent of the city employers surveyed.

Worse still, Mr. Bromstein said that those companies that plan to hire said they would add only a few jobs, while planned layoffs were large.

The best job prospects are likely to be in suburban areas such as Gaithersburg and Laurel. In both area, 17 percent of the employers surveyed said they would add staff, and only 3 percent planned to reduce the number of workers.

The companies most likely to hire, Manpower found, were involved in finance, insurance, or other services.

Defense plants and construction firms said they would likely continue to cut jobs.

"We're in commercial construction and it is bad, bad, bad," said Opal Clifton, spokeswoman for Eco-Rok Inc., an excavating company in Prince George's County.

"We've had to cut employment and pay" at the company, which has about 80 workers. "The only hope we see is far in the future," Ms. Clifton said.

Some of the bad news, such as the poor outlook for the construction industry, is typical for this time of year, Manpower said.

The news is better at Giant Food, which plans to build a store in Upper Marlboro that will require 150 new employees next spring.

And at Edward Arthur Jewelers, owner Randy Brooks is conducting interviews now for an additional salesperson at one his suburban stores because business has been improving in the past couple of months.

Mr. Brooks said the job he's adding won't be just a Christmas-season temporary position. "I think this is more than the Christmas rush," he said. "There is all this pent-up demand."

But his three-store chain, which closed its downtown Baltimore store two years ago, won't add any jobs in Baltimore any time soon.

"The city killed itself. Why should people shop where they have to spend $8 to park? We have no plans for returning to the city," he said.

Indeed, Manpower said that Baltimore's job outlook, unlike that of many other cities, was worse now than it was in the same period a year ago, and it was now one of the worst in the nation.

"Baltimore is near the bottom of the list," with cities such as Buffalo, N.Y., Indianapolis, Cincinnati and San Bernardino in Southern California, said Manpower's Mr. Bromstein.

Baltimore's economy was behaving much like cities in the Northeast and West, neither of which appear to have emerged from the recession, he said.

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