Credit woes, real estate crunch lowers hiring
Optimism among Honolulu employers has fallen compared to a year ago, with more businesses expecting a contraction during the second quarter of this year, according to the latest employ- ment outlook released today by Manpower Inc.
Of the more than 350 Hawaii businesses surveyed, 37 percent plan to hire more employees from April to June, while 7 percent expect to reduce their payrolls. Another 56 percent expect to maintain their existing work force, according to the quarterly report.
By comparison, 40 percent of local companies surveyed a year ago planned to hire more workers, while 3 percent expected to cut payrolls, Manpower said.
In the first quarter, 23 percent of Hawaii businesses intended to hire and none planned to reduce staffing.
"The underlying feeling of potentially what's going on with the marketplace -- credit woes, the real estate crunch that's happening in California -- a lot of that cascades throughout the entire U.S. economy," said Sunny Ackerman, vice president and general manager for Manpower's Western division. "People start to cut back on additional hires or are delaying the start of the hires they're looking at, being a little more cautious of the head counts."
However, Manpower isn't seeing as dramatic a downturn in hiring in Hawaii compared to the western half of the U.S. for the first and second quarters, Ackerman said, adding that optimism locally is likely to remain flat going into the mid and latter parts of the year.
The University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization predicted in a quarterly report in December about 1.6 percent job growth for 2008, but likely will revise the forecast lower in an upcoming job report expected to be released next week, said UH economist Byron Gangnes.
The Manpower survey found the best job prospects for the second quarter in transportation/public utilities, wholesale/retail services and public administration. However, employers in the construction industry plan to reduce staffing, while hiring in durable and non-durable goods manufacturing, finance/insurance/real estate and education is expected to remain flat.
Meanwhile, U.S. employers project a gradual drop in hiring for the second quarter after seasonal adjustments are factored into the survey results.
Of the total 14,000 U.S. employers surveyed, 26 percent expect to increase hiring, while 9 percent plan to reduce staff. Roughly 60 percent do not expect any changes in hiring and 5 percent were undecided.
The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 0.8 percent.