Employers Remain Confident on Hiring Plans for 2016

January 12, 2016 – U.S. employers remain confident in their hiring plans as they embark on a new year, with 36 percent of employers planning to add full-time, permanent employees in 2016, according to CareerBuilder’s annual job forecast. Nearly half of employers (47 percent) plan to hire temporary or contract workers.

Workers can also expect to see higher starting salaries, more teens in internships, more women and minorities in leadership roles, and more opportunities to move from low-skill to high-skill jobs, according to data trends in the report.

“On average, the U.S. has added 200,000 jobs each month over the last two years, and we expect 2016 to produce similar results, if not better,” said Matt Ferguson, CEO of CareerBuilder. “The market is also showing signs of broader wage pressure. While employers have been more willing to pay a premium for high-skill labor, they now have to pay more competitive wages for entry-level positions. Workers are gaining leverage.”

While more than a third of employers are increasing full-time, permanent headcount, 45 percent anticipate no change. One in 10 employers (10 percent) plan to decrease staff levels, while nine percent are unsure of their hiring plans.

Comparing industries, financial services (46 percent), information technology (44 percent), and healthcare (43 percent) are expected to outperform the national average for employers adding full-time staff. Manufacturing (37 percent) is expected to mirror the national average.

Employers are also optimistic about temporary employment. Forty-seven percent reported they will add temporary or contract workers in 2016, up slightly from 46 percent last year. Of these employers, 58 percent plan to transition some temporary or contract workers into permanent roles in 2016.

Of the employers who plan to increase the number of full-time employees in the new year, the top areas they’ll be recruiting for include customer service (32 percent), information technology (29 percent), sales (27 percent), production (24 percent), administrative (20 percent), marketing (18 percent), business development (16 percent), human resources (16 percent), accounting/finance (15 percent), and engineering (13 percent).

Small business managers, the traditional backbone of thriving economies, are feeling better about their financial prospects in 2016 and are looking to expand their staff. Of businesses with 50 or fewer employees, 27 percent plan to hire full-time, permanent employees, up from 20 percent last year. Of those with 250 or fewer employees, 33 percent plan to hire full-time, permanent employees, up from 29 percent last year. Among larger companies with more than 500 employees, 42 percent plan to add full-time, permanent employees, on par with last year (43 percent).

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By region, the West (42 percent) has the highest percentage of employers expecting to add full-time, permanent headcount, followed by the South (36 percent), Midwest (34 percent) and Northeast (30 percent). However, the West also houses the highest percentage of employers expecting to decrease staff, at 12 percent, compared to 10 percent in the Northeast and Midwest and nine percent in the South.

Looking at key trends that will help shape the employment landscape in 2016, several are tied to higher competition for talent, innovation in sourcing and developing high-skill workers, and a push for more diversity in leadership.

Here are several highlights:

  • Opening New Doors for Low-Skill Workers. Many employers are concerned with a growing skills gap (63 percent) and report extended vacancies within their organizations (48 percent). Thirty-three percent of employers plan to hire low-skill workers and invest in training them for high-skill jobs in 2016.
  • Hiring Younger Interns. To encourage the next generation to pursue STEM-related fields (science, technology, engineering and math) and other in-demand areas, employers are building relationships with students at an early age. One quarter (25 percent) plan to hire high school students as interns over the next 12 months.
  • Increasing Wages at All Levels. To retain and attract top performers, 83 percent of employers plan to increase compensation for existing employees – on par with 82 percent last year – while 66 percent will offer higher starting salaries for new employees – up from 64 percent last year.
  • Reaching Beyond U.S. Borders. Employers will continue to look at talent pools outside the U.S. to help fill labor deficits. Nearly one in 5 (19 percent) say they will hire workers with H-1B visas in 2016, which will enable them to employ temporarily foreign-born workers for specialized occupations.
  • Diversifying Management. Companies are expanding demographics in their company leadership. Fifty-five percent of employers plan to hire or promote more women for management roles, and 53 percent plan to do the same for diverse workers. Forty-seven percent of employers plan to promote workers under the age of 30 into management roles.

CareerBuilder’s report is just the latest to reveal an upbeat job forecast. The recently released annual hiring survey by DHI Group found that 61 percent of HR managers and corporate recruiters anticipate more hiring in the first half of 2016 as compared to the second half of 2015. In the next six months, 17 percent of companies surveyed plan to hire 30 percent or more professionals, up five percentage points from the prior year.

Manpower’s latest Employment Outlook Survey recorded its strongest outlook heading into the New Year since 2007. Of the nearly 59,000 employers interviewed in 42 countries and territories across the globe, employers anticipate an increase in staffing levels in 39 countries and territories. Hiring prospects strengthen in 23 of 42 countries and territories, says Manpower.

These positive outlooks follow the Labor Department’s most recent employment report, which saw the U.S. add 292,000 jobs in December. For the year, total job growth totaled 2.7 million, the second-best year for hiring since 1999.

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief, Hunt Scanlon Media

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