Many firms plan to add workers in first quarter
A tight labor market could curtail the ability of companies to expand
Honolulu companies expect to add more jobs next year, but that could be a challenge given the state's low unemployment rate.
Forty percent of Honolulu-area companies said they planned to add jobs from January to March, while only three percent said they anticipated cutting staff, according to Manpower Inc.'s quarterly survey of 16,000 firms nationwide. Another 57 percent of Hawaii companies said they expected to maintain their staffing levels.
The findings in that survey were supported by the Chief Financial Officer's first quarter hiring index which was released yesterday by Robert Half International. CFOs in the Pacific states were the most optimistic about first-quarter hiring activity, with an expected net 9 percent increase.
"Companies in the Pacific region, especially those in the real estate and construction industries, are adding staff to support growth initiatives," said Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half International.
While a bullish hiring outlook is great news for the relatively few people looking for work in Hawaii's booming economy, a tightening labor market will create additional changes for Hawaii companies.
Steven Ai, president and chief executive officer at City Mill, said he has considered opening a ninth store next year but that concerns about being able to staff it might shelve the plans.
"We have looked at locations, but we want to make sure human resources can fill this new store with quality associates who have good customer-service skills," Ai said. "We are tight at all stores, but certain stores are tighter than others for various reasons."
The state's low unemployment rate has made it particularly tough for companies to find the qualified workers that they need and has led to creative work force policies, Ai said.
"Not only do we have to pay competitively, but we have to make sure the job is fun and that we are communicating with all our team members," Ai said. "It's not always about the economics -- because someone can always pay a $1 more."
The Honolulu-area employment outlook is much stronger than the fourth-quarter forecast, said Manpower spokes-woman Valerie Cesar.
"A year ago at this time, employers revealed more modest hiring intentions when 30 percent of companies surveyed thought employment increases were likely and none intended to cut back," she said.
For the coming quarter, job prospects appear best in construction, education, transportation/public utilities, services and public administration, Cesar said.