Md. employers are optimistic about new jobs More plan to hire than to lay off

June 02, 1993|By Kim Clark | Kim Clark,Staff Writer

Employers' hiring plans in Maryland are the most positive they've been since the beginning of the 1990-1991 recession, a quarterly survey of state businesses released yesterday has reported.

In the second straight quarter of optimism, the number of Maryland employers that told Manpower Inc. they plan to hire permanent workers through September far exceeds the number that said they plan to lay off.

Economists said the continuing trend showed that Maryland has caught up with the national economic recovery.

"Maryland has finally turned the corner," said Michael A. Conte, a University of Baltimore economist.

Maryland's hiring prospects were slightly better than the national average, and about equal to those of the two strongest regions -- the South and Midwest.

Across the country, Manpower found that one in four employers planned to hire, while one in eight expected to lay off workers. But the survey found widespread layoff plans in the West and slow hiring plans in the Northeast.

Dr. Conte predicted that this was the start of a slow but steady improvement for Maryland.

"I don't think it is going to go down again," he said of the local economy. He said, however, that hiring would not take off the way it did in the 1982 recovery because employers are waiting to see the outcome of President Clinton's tax and health care plans.

In addition, employers said that though they have started hiring cautiously, the kinds of jobs being filled are often part time or low wage.

Alan V. Klug, owner of Klug Uniforms in Baltimore, said demand for uniforms has skyrocketed in recent weeks -- but the growth has been fueled almost entirely by orders for janitorial and security officer outfits.

The demand has been so strong that Mr. Klug, who said the recession nearly bankrupted him last year, has hired two part-time workers in the past two months and hopes to hire at least one more this summer.

Although one of his new workers is scheduled for 35 hours a week, Mr. Klug said he can't afford to give the person a 40-hour-a-week job because the new worker can't produce enough to cover the additional cost of providing health and other benefits.

Manpower Inc., a Milwaukee-based temporary services agency, found that 28 percent of all Maryland employers planned to add staffin the three-month period beginning July 1, a slight improvement over the 25 percent that reported second-quarter hiring plans. In both periods, 6 percent of all state employers planned to reduce staff.

It was the best showing in nearly three years.

Even employers in the area with the worst showing in the state -- Baltimore -- held out hope for job seekers, as nearly twice as many city businesses said they planned to hire as planned to fire this summer.

Annapolis employers, who were pessimistic this past winter andspring, were also upbeat about the summer. Nearly one in four reported expansion plans, while only one in 12 expected layoffs.

The Columbia area ranks as one of the hottest job-producers in the nation. Nearly half of employers there said they expect to hire this summer, and none foresaw layoffs.

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