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Favorable job market predicted for LR.

Little Rock area employers are the most optimistic in the state, with 20 percent of the companies interviewed expecting to hire more employees during the first quarter of 2004, according to the Manpower Employment Outlook Survey.

From January to March, 7 percent intend to reduce their work force, according to Kathy McLeod of Manpower's Little Rock office. Another 66 percent expect to maintain their current staffing levels, and 7 percent are not certain of their hiring plans.

For the coming quarter, job prospects appear best in durable and non-durable goods manufacturing, education and services. Employers in transportation/ public utilities plan to reduce staffing levels, while those in finance/insurance/ real estate have mixed hiring intentions. Hiring in other sectors is expected to remain unchanged.

Springdale area employers expect to hire at a respectable pace during the first quarter, but they're not quite as optimistic as employers in the Little Rock area.

Seventeen percent of the companies interviewed plan to hire more employees in the first quarter, while 3 percent intend to reduce their work force, according to Manpower's Springdale spokeswoman, Marianne Haddock. Another 77 percent expect to maintain their current staff levels, and 3 percent are not certain of their hiring plans.

For the Springdale area, job prospects appear best in construction, non-durable goods manufacturing and services. Employers in durable goods manufacturing foresee a mix of job gains and losses. Hiring in other sectors is expected to remain unchanged.

In the Texarkana area, only 7 percent of those surveyed foresee hiring more, while 86 percent don't see any change. Seven percent predict a reduction in their work force.

In nearby Memphis, 23 percent of employers expect to shrink their work force in the fourth quarter, while only 3 percent of employers expect to add to their work force. The others surveyed predicted no change or were unsure.

Nationwide, the South looked to be the best region for gains in employment for the sixth consecutive quarter with 23 percent of employers expecting to increase hiring, while 9 percent plan to reduce job levels, producing a net employment outlook of 14 percent.

The survey shows that for the first time in five years, employers foresee an increase in hiring expectations from the fourth quarter to the first quarter.

Of the 16,000 U.S. employers that were polled nationwide, 20 percent said they plan to boost employment levels for the first three months of 2004, while 13 percent anticipate a slower hiring pace. Sixty-one percent of employers expect to offer the same number of jobs as last quarter, and 6 percent are unsure of their first-quarter employment activity.
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Title Annotation:Economic Little Rock, Arkansas
Comment:Favorable job market predicted for LR.(Economic Little Rock, Arkansas)
Author:Henry, John
Publication:Arkansas Business
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 22, 2003
Words:436
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