More bosses plan to add employees Of 400 Md. employers, one-fifth expect to hire early in 1997

Survey by Manpower Inc.

Another 11% report they're looking to pare their job holders

November 25, 1996|By Jay Hancock | Jay Hancock,SUN STAFF

A new survey by Manpower Inc. of 400 Maryland employers found that a fifth plan to increase the size of their work forces in the first three months of 1997, up from 13 percent for the same period this year.

That bodes well for state employment and the economy early next year, said Manpower, a big temporary-help firm based in Milwaukee.

Manpower regularly surveys 16,000 public and private employers across the country -- mostly the same companies each time -- to get a regular view of employment trends, said John S. Ward, the company's area manager for Maryland and Delaware. "The people surveyed represent a cross-section" of the economy, he said, and the planned expansions include all kinds of hiring -- not just temps.

Of the 400 Maryland companies polled, 11 percent said they plan to shrink their work forces next quarter. That compares with 12 percent in the first quarter of 1996.

Seventy-two percent plan no change, compared with 60 percent in the earlier period, and 9 percent said they haven't firmed up plans yet.

Nationwide, 21 percent of all companies plan to hire next quarter, 11 percent are counting on decreases and 64 percent foresee no change, Manpower said.

The company called the national picture "marginally brighter" than it has been since mid-1995. "First-quarter staff reductions traditionally reflect post-holiday contractions, especially in the wholesale and retail trades, but the current survey shows fewer reductions in the sector than any post-holiday period in the 20-year history of the survey," the report said.

Most economists expect the country's economy to continue growing at a moderate rate next year, with annual expansion of about 2 percent.

Maryland has trailed the country's economy in recent years, but some state analysts believe that in 1997 Maryland business will grow at a rate closer to that of the nation's.

Within Maryland, the Manpower survey showed variations in hiring outlooks.

Of Baltimore-area employers, 11 percent plan to hire in the January-March quarter of 1997. None plan to shrink, and 52 percent do not expect to change work force levels.

A year previously, only 3 percent of Baltimore-area firms expected to expand, and 8 percent said they would shrink.

Employers in the Washington-Baltimore corridor have the most robust expansion plans, Manpower said. In south central Prince George's County, 40 percent of the firms polled plan to hire; in Gaithersburg, 29 percent; in the Baltimore-Washington International Airport area, 33 percent; in Columbia, 26 percent; in Bethesda-Rockville, 29 percent.

Other areas showing strength included Hagerstown, with 26 percent expanding, and St. Mary's County, also with 26 percent growing. But a sizable chunk of the employers surveyed in St. Mary's, Columbia and the Rockville-Bethesda areas -- 20 percent in each spot -- also plan to shrink.

The College Park-Silver Spring area was an exception to healthy hiring plans in other Washington-area localities. Only 6 percent of the firms there plan to hire, Manpower said, and 20 percent plan reductions.

Other weak spots included Salisbury, with just 6 percent planning to hire; and Charles and Calvert Counties, with 10 percent of the employers intending to expand.

Pub Date: 11/25/96

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