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EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES SHOW LITTLE IMPROVEMENT; PRODUCTION/SERVICE LAYOFFS CONTINUE TO RISE, BNA SURVEY FINDS

 EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES SHOW LITTLE IMPROVEMENT;
 PRODUCTION/SERVICE LAYOFFS CONTINUE TO RISE, BNA SURVEY FINDS
 WASHINGTON, March 18 /PRNewswire/ -- Employers' hiring plans for April, May and June do not indicate a robust job market, according to the latest quarterly employment survey conducted by The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. The percentages of firms planning work force expansion have risen some since early 1991, but have yet to approach levels reached just prior to the recession or in the period following the 1981-82 downturn. In addition, reports of employees on layoff remain more prevalent than in 1989 and early 1990. BNA is a leading publisher of information services covering employee relations, business and economics, law, taxation, the environment, and other public policy issues.
 Job prospects for production/service workers may improve slightly in the next three months. Seventeen percent of responding employers expect to expand their production/service staffs during the second quarter, up two percentage points from projections for both the previous quarter and the second quarter of 1991. The percentage of companies anticipating production/service work force growth is at its highest point since mid-1990, but still well below levels recorded in 1988 and 1989. Improvements in production/service job prospects appear most likely in the manufacturing sector and the south; the percentages of manufacturers (23 percent) and southern firms (25 percent) projecting expansion are up five points and six points, respectively, from projections for the first quarter.
 The survey also finds that:
 -- Second-quarter increases in technical/professional staff levels are anticipated by 15 percent of employers, down one point from the previous quarter and the same proportion recorded a year ago. The outlook for technical/professional employees had shown marginal improvements in the previous two quarters. After two straight quarters at 19 percent, the percentage of large firms (1,000 or more employees) planning technical/professional work force growth fell to 14 percent.
 -- 11 percent of organizations expect office/clerical staff expansion during the second quarter, up from both the previous quarter (10 percent) and the second quarter of 1991 (9 percent). Office/clerical prospects have improved slightly for two straight quarters, after two years of fairly steady decline.
 -- The employment outlook appears weakest in the Northeast and the West. For example, first-quarter growth in production/service staffs is anticipated by just 6 percent and 10 percent of Northeastern and Western employers, respectively. In contrast, 25 percent of Southern firms and 16 percent of North Central companies expect to hire additional production/service workers in April, May and June.
 -- The risk of job loss may increase for technical/professional workers in the next few months. Thirteen percent of employers project second-quarter cutbacks in their technical/professional staffs, up from 9 percent in the previous quarter. Reports of expected technical/professional cutbacks rose sharply among Northeastern employers (10 percent to 22 percent), large firms (8 percent to 14 percent) and manufacturing companies (11 percent to 17 percent).
 -- 11 percent of firms plan reductions in office/clerical employment and 12 percent will cut production/service staff levels during the second quarter, each down slightly from the first quarter.
 Layoffs
 Reports of production/service workers on layoff have risen sharply in the past two quarters, reaching their highest levels in five years. Twenty-six percent of employers had production/service workers on inactive status at the time of the survey (January and February), up from both the previous quarter (23 percent) and the first quarter of 1991 (24 percent). About four out of 10 manufacturing firms (41 percent) had production/service workers on layoff during January and February.
 Layoff incidence among office/clerical and technical/professional employees showed little change from both the previous quarter and one year ago. However, reports of layoffs among all three employee groups remain more common than in 1989 and most in 1990.
 The survey report, "BNA's Employment Outlook -- Second Quarter 1992," is based on responses from 330 human resource and employee relations executives representing a cross-section of U.S. employers, both public and private.
 -0- 3/18/92
 /CONTACT: Emily Pilk of the Bureau of National Affairs, 202-452-4985/ CO: Bureau of National Affairs ST: District of Columbia IN: PUB SU:


SB -- DC005 -- 9192 03/18/92 11:24 EST
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