Des Moines, IA (PRWEB) June 27, 2012
The Hamilton Hiring Survey results for the third quarter of 2012 indicate that Iowa employers’ overall outlook for hiring is guarded, and similar concerns remain from previous quarters.
The company asked 5,000 small- and medium-sized employers about their sense of optimism for industry job growth in the next quarter. Results showed that 56% of the respondents were either somewhat or very optimistic. This is up slightly from 55% in the second quarter of 2012.
“Business’ optimism has held steady the last two quarters,” Hamilton Group President and staffing expert Tom Hamilton said. “However, we saw a significant number of respondents move from the ‘neither optimistic nor pessimistic’ category, to the ‘pessimistic’ column. And although there was not an indication of expected layoffs, this change in attitude to more pessimism signals significant trepidation to hire new employees.”
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national unemployment rate was at 8.2% in May. According to Iowa Workforce Development, Iowa's unemployment rate was 5.1% in May, down from 5.6% in December. One year ago, Iowa’s unemployment rate stood at 6.0%.
In this quarter’s Hamilton Hiring Survey, 44% of respondents said they expect to increase total employment over the next quarter. Some businesses indicated plans to introduce new products/services and target new markets; this helped keep this number consistent with previous quarters.
However, the increase may not be a large enough increase to significantly reduce Iowa’s unemployment rate. We would expect the rate to remain between 4.9% and 5.3% into the 4th quarter of 2012.
14% of the predicted new hires are expected to serve at a senior level. The majority of jobs that are expected to be added are mid- and entry-level positions. Respondents indicated they would hire more entry-level positions than in any survey in the last year. This is likely due to the seasonality of summer hiring.
Not everyone is ready to make a change. In fact, only 25% (vs. 33% in the second quarter) of respondents fell into the “neither optimistic nor pessimistic” about their business prospects category. A high number (47%) indicated there would be no change in their workforce or were essentially undecided about their future hiring. “This was the highest level of undecided’s in the last year. This wait and see approach is affected by the many uncertainties facing businesses today, and respondents made clear their concerns for regulation, healthcare and government/fiscal policies,” added Hamilton. Respondent’s top three concerns included:
1. Business regulations and red tape in their industry
2. Costs and uncertainties surrounding healthcare
3. The approaching “fiscal cliff” on Jan 1, 2013: A combination of corporate and personal tax increases plus mandatory government spending reductions
The percentage of Iowa companies who plan to reduce their workforce was only 1%. “Employers indicated they were planning very few dismissals in the third quarter. This could pave the way for an increase in employment, but the headwinds and political uncertainties are making businesses think twice before expanding staff,” added Hamilton.
Even though planned layoffs are at their lowest point in a year, businesses have indicated that uncertainties remain and have an impact on their hiring decisions. One hiring authority summed it up this way, “Many of the positions we are being forced to look at in order to compete are not profit related jobs. Increased compliance costs for hiring internal audit/compliance staff, and more cost from external auditors has been created by more burdensome regulation,” said Chris Weaver, Owner of Green Belt Bank and Trust based in Iowa Falls.
Optimism for job growth was scattered throughout the state and again was particularly high with businesses employing between 100 and 500 workers. Pessimism was also present throughout the state, the highest found within businesses employing between 5 and 100 workers.
The survey concluded that employers are staying relatively optimistic, but more pessimism is once again creeping into the hiring climate. The sense of many businesses is that they have found the ideal staffing level until economic and political uncertainties become clearer.
The Hamilton Hiring Index for the third quarter of 2012 is now at 65*, a four point decrease from the index of 69* for the second quarter of 2012.
About the survey:
The Hamilton Hiring Survey looks at employer confidence and hiring intentions for the upcoming quarter in the state of Iowa. The survey then results in an index number representing the overall hiring confidence for the next 90 days.
Much of the employment data available today is trailing statistics. The Hamilton Hiring Survey is the only statewide staffing survey of small- and medium-sized businesses predicting future hiring trends.
The third quarter Hamilton Hiring Survey was completed in mid-June of 2012 and reflects attitudes and intentions for July – September 2012.
*From the survey a hiring index is calculated to indicate the level of optimism and hiring plans for the upcoming quarter. The Hamilton Hiring Index is based on a scale of 1-100. While 50 is considered neutral, a number above 50 indicates an expanding job market for small- and medium-sized businesses in Iowa. A number below 50 indicates a retracting job market for small- and medium-sized businesses in Iowa.