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Job prospects still tough, but glimmers of hope in UK

Young people getting the worst of it

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Worldwide job prospects are showing some signs of improvement, or at least they are getting worse more slowly, while in the UK there are signs of improved prospects in financial and business services.

Starting with the UK, a survey of 2,100 businesses found a net employment outlook of -2 per cent, compared to -6 per cent in the last quarter. This figure is simply those expecting to increase headcount minus those who expect to reduce headcount in the next three months. Overall, eight out of ten firms expect no change in employment.

Some sectors remain depressed - Transport and Communications and Hotels and Restaurants are at -10 per cent and -7 per cent respectively. Utilities are +7 per cent and Finance and Business Services creep into positive territory with +1 for the first time since the last quarter of 2006.

There also some regional differences within the UK - employers in the west Midlands are most miserable at -10 per cent and those in London are down two per cent on last quarter to -5 per cent.

Mark Cahill - MD at temp agency Manpower, which paid for the survey - said there was evidence that younger job seekers were bearing the brunt of the recession. He said: “It is evident through our branch network that employers are tapping into more experienced individuals to resource roles traditionally filled by graduates or first jobbers. Our advice would be to not underestimate the value that the perceived ‘lost generation’ can bring through apprenticeships and internships."

Worldwide researchers spoke to 72,000 employers in 35 countries. All the G7 countries except Canada expect the number of employed staff to fall.

They found some improvement in prospects in two thirds of countries with an easing in expected job cuts. Prospects remain weak in the US, although there has been some increase in the number of bosses who do not expect to lay off more people, suggesting a move to stability at least. 69 per cent of US employers expect no change between October and December. After seasonal adjustments the US comes out with a net figure of -3 per cent - the lowest since the survey started in 1962.

In emerging markets there is more hopeful news - India, Brazil and Australia are expecting to increase rather than reduce staff numbers. Over a third of Services firms in Brazil expect to hire more workers.

In Europe, the Middle East and Africa year-on-year comparisons show 15 out of 18 countries expect hiring to slow. Only Norway, Poland and Sweden expect headcounts to rise.

There's more on Manpower's website here. ®

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