Semi-annual Hiring Survey Shows Iowa Businesses Predicting Job Growth

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Semi-annual survey of over 5,000 Iowa employers shows a dramatic uptick in both confidence and job creation for the remainder of 2013. Employers optimism has rebounded from their post election malaise.

The Hamilton Hiring Index rose to 74 for the 2nd half of 2013

“I am hopeful that Iowa can continue to be a leader in job creation and GDP in the Midwest,” said Hamilton.

The Hamilton Hiring Survey results for second half of 2013, conducted in June, indicates that Iowa employers are far more optimistic than they were six months ago, immediately after the election.

Key Findings:

  • Optimism for hiring expanding in second half of 2013
  • Layoffs have dried up
  • Construction companies see positive trends for the first time in years
  • Hiring authorities are seeing competition for workers
  • Healthcare concerns, red tape and taxes still impacting hiring decisions

Analysis:

The Hamilton Hiring Survey reached out to 5,000+ small and medium-sized employers and the results indicate that Iowa employers’ overall outlook for hiring has improved considerably since 4Q 2012.

“Business’ optimism for hiring in the second half of 2013 has really rebounded,” Hamilton Group President and staffing expert Tom Hamilton said. “Much of the hiring that will take place has to do with growing confidence. This confidence is being driven by a number of factors including a falling unemployment rate, a successful legislative session, a state government budget surplus, rising stock markets and home sales, and recent national press on how Iowa’s economy is outperforming other Midwestern states. 52% of the respondents said they were somewhat or very optimistic, the highest level in the past 3 years.” added Hamilton.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national unemployment rate was at 7.6% in May. According to Iowa Workforce Development, Iowa’s unemployment rate was 4.6% in May. One year ago, Iowa’s unemployment rate stood at 5.2%.

46% (up from 25% in the previous survey) of respondents said they expect to increase total employment over the next six months. More businesses indicated that business is good and the need to staff up to meet the demand is driving employment growth. “This is a good trend we are seeing across many industries in Iowa from agriculture, to manufacturing and for the first time in many years, construction demand. Many industries will help fuel the job growth in the next six months,” said Hamilton.

Of those who are planning to hire, 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-level and entry-level positions. However, in terms of number of companies adding any new employment, the survey showed a large number of companies expecting to hire in the second half of 2013.

“We have seen an uptick of respondents’ hiring plans from 25% in 4Q 2012 citing “no change”, to 35% today. The majority of those who moved into of the undecided category are no longer reducing their workforce. In other words, they have stepped up and are finished with layoffs for the foreseeable future,” said Hamilton. The uncertainty is driven by respondents’ top four concerns that included:

  • Costs and uncertainties surrounding healthcare
  • Business regulations and red tape in their industry
  • Tax policies (corporate income, sales, gas etc.)
  • Federal Government Debt

The percentage of Iowa companies who plan to reduce their workforce was 8%, down from 20% last summer. “Employers indicated they were not planning many layoffs for the remainder of 2013. However their appetite for technology and productivity is a growing trend, showing respondents may plan to purchase new technology in lieu of hiring more staff.” added Hamilton.

Because of these conclusions, it could be expected that Iowa’s unemployment rate will remain between 4.4% and 4.8 % into late 2013.

The semi-annual Hamilton Hiring Index for the first half of 2013 is now at 74*, a twenty-three point increase from the post federal election index of 51*, and up five points from (69*) a year ago.

About the survey:

The Hamilton Hiring Survey looks at employer confidence and hiring intentions in the state of Iowa. The survey results in an index number representing the overall hiring confidence for the next 180 days.

The Hamilton Hiring Survey is the only statewide staffing survey of small and medium-sized businesses predicting future hiring trend and was completed in mid June 2013. It reflects attitudes and intentions for June – December 2013.

*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.

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