Fewer firms hiring staff
By MARTA STEEMAN - The Press | Tuesday, 08 July 2008

More firms are still intending to hire rather than fire in the next six months, but the employment picture is worse than it was six months ago, the latest survey by recruitment firm Hudson shows.

Hudson's six-monthly survey of nearly 2000 businesses' hiring intentions shows a substantial drop from late last year in businesses' intentions to increase their permanent staff numbers.

The survey showed nationally a net 26.8 per cent of businesses expected to increase their permanent numbers of employees in the six months July to December 2008, 9 per cent down on the previous six-month period, January to June 2008.

The net percentage is the result of employers expecting increases in staff levels minus the number of employers expecting decreases.

The net 26.8 per cent is the lowest level recorded since 2002. Hudson started the survey in July 1999 and since then the percentage has not fallen below a net 20 per cent of employers expecting permanent staff numbers to increase.

In the South Island a net 23.5 per cent of employers were expecting to increase their permanent staff, down from 39 per cent six months ago.

Ramari Young, of Hudson, said of the 252 companies surveyed in the South Island, 98 said they intended to increase staff numbers, 39 said they were intending to cut staff numbers and 115 said they expected no change.

Construction and manufacturing are the two sectors in Canterbury and the South Island with the worst employment outlook.

Young said in construction a net 4 per cent of firms expected to cut staff. Some 34 per cent of construction businesses intended to decrease staff, 30 per cent to increase staff and 34 per cent intended to keep numbers steady.

In Canterbury and the South Island, the information technology (IT) sector was most buoyant, with a net 61 per cent of IT businesses intending to increase staff in the next six months. In the tourism sector a net 41 per cent were to increase staff.

Hudson's executive general manager, Marc Burrage, said businesses were being conservative in hiring staff. The majority were taking a wait-and-see view.

Nationally more than half of the employers surveyed were intending to hold staff numbers steady in the next six months, and employers intending to increase staff outnumbered those intending to cut staff by more than three to one.

Medium-sized firms appeared to be most affected by international uncertainty, with a net 24 per cent intending to increase staff numbers compared with a net 41% in the small business sector and a net 27 per cent of large employers.

"Previously, large organisations were hiring staff with a view to future needs when they didn't need staff immediately," Burrage said.

From here.