Job forecast indicates cautious hiring environment

By ANDREA DECKERT - 12/27/2012 3:06:44 PM

The coming year is expected to usher in more jobs, but U.S. employers will continue to play it safe, according to CareerBuilder's annual hiring forecast. The research was done by Brighton-based Harris Interactive Inc.

Twenty-six percent of hiring managers plan to add full-time, permanent employees in 2013, up three percentage points over 2012. The study also points to heightened competition for high-skill labor and improved compensation trends. 

Harris Interactive conducted the nationwide survey from Nov. 1 to Nov. 30 and included more than 2,600 hiring managers and human resource professionals and more than 3,900 workers across industries and company sizes.

"More than 60 percent of employers reported that they are in a better financial position than last year and more than 40 percent said their sales increased over the last six months," said Matt Ferguson, CareerBuilder CEO, in a statement. "While this bodes well for job creation, employers are still assessing the implications of a weakened global market and a modest recovery at home.

“We don't expect 2013 to bring any big surprises in regard to employment,” he added. “Rather, it will continue on a path of stability and gradual growth, barring any significant economic disruptions."  

While more than one-quarter of employers expect to hire full-time staffers next year, 9 percent plan to decrease headcount, up from 7 percent last year. Fifty-five percent anticipate no change in their staff levels while 11 percent are unsure.

The top two positions companies plan to hire for in the new year—sales and information technology—are also where employers expect to see the biggest salary increases. 

Fifteen percent of businesses that employ 500 or fewer reported they plan to take out new lines of credit in 2013. Plans to hire increased at least three percentage points across small business segments while plans to downsize trended up the same amount. 

Similar to previous forecasts, the West and the South account the most employers planning to recruit new employees over the next 12 months. In the Northeast, 23 percent plan to add full-time, permanent staff in 2013, up from 21 percent in 2012; 10 percent plan to reduce headcount, up from 8 percent last year. 

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