Israeli Employers Still Plan to Hire New Workers, but at Slower Pace

Worldwide Manpower Group survey shows intention to add new staff slipped from 21% to 19%.

The number of Israeli employers who say they intend to take on new employees in the final quarter of this year has declined slightly, according to a worldwide survey by the Manpower Group placement firm, though Israel's employment picture remains relatively strong from an international perspective.

After three previous quarterly surveys showed that 21% of Israeli employers expressed their intention to add staff in the subsequent quarter, the figure in the most recent survey, for the fourth quarter of 2012, slipped to 19%. On average, nine of ten sectors of the economy still reported that they would hire new employees during the next three months, but most respondents planned to hire fewer workers than they had in previous quarters.

Manpower's report, released yesterday, showed that the net fourth quarter employment outlook for Israel is 10%. The company arrived at that figure by subtracting the 9% of employers who expect to reduce staffing levels from the 19% who expect to expand their staff. Another 70% expect no change in employee numbers.

Manpower has been conducting its quarterly Employment Outlook Survey for 50 years. It currently includes data from nearly 66,000 employers in 42 countries; 752 employers were surveyed in Israel.

Manpower Israel CEO, Dalia Narkis, noted that although the effects of the worldwide economic slowdown are felt here, Israeli employers continue to maintain a positive employment outlook. "This indicates that even though the Israeli economy is not immune to global trends, it remains sound and stable relative to other countries worldwide," she said.

"One should also bear in mind that the survey data reflect the slowdown we usually see during the High Holiday period. Business activity scales [back] significantly, as does hiring, while companies put employee recruitment on hold. Likewise, this is a period in which organizations focus on planning activity and, as a result, business and recruitment decisions are often delayed until the first quarter of next year," she added.

Among the various sectors of the economy, the sector that includes finance, insurance, real estate and business service scored the highest net outlook: 15%. This was based on the number of employers in that sector that expect to hire next quarter, which is offset by the number who expect to layoff workers. Last quarter, that sector's net figure was 23%.

Employers in the transportation, storage and communications sectors reported an average positive outlook for the fourth quarter of 4%, compared to 31% last time they were surveyed. The net figure in the construction industry is just 9%, compared to 27% in the most recent survey. The only sector where the net outlook actually improved was in agriculture, which reported a 14% net figure, compared to 9% in the most recent survey.

"Despite the slowdown in recruitment, many organizations continue to suffer from an ongoing shortage of professional employees," said Narkis. "The high-tech sector, for example, is in need of engineers and engineering technicians. By correctly managing human resources, encouraging young people to choose fields in which there is a demand, and creating appropriate professional training frameworks, it will be possible to promote a change in the employment balance in the labor market, while creating jobs for large numbers of workers.

Green-related jobs on rise

The public and social service sector reported a net 11% positive outlook for the fourth quarter of this year, compared to 12% in the third quarter. The restaurant and hotel sector reported a 13% net outlook for the fourth quarter, a steep drop from its 20% outlook last quarter. Wholesale and retail trade: 9% compared to 19% for the prior quarter. And manufacturing, 9% compared to a 10% net outlook last quarter.

Among the trends that Manpower Israel noted from its ongoing operations here was that the environmental movement is creating strong demand for new employees. "Accelerated development of clean-tech industries is resulting in lively recruitment drives for employees trained in the domain of environmental engineering, environmental quality project managers and so forth," the personnel firm said in a statement.

In its analysis of the local communications sector, Manpower said that employment patterns have been shaken up by the entry of new cellular service providers into the market. There have been waves of dismissals of professional staff, but stepped-up hiring of sales and customer service workers.

As for the financial sector, Manpower Israel said that service and sales representatives for call centers were "the only domains not affected by the economic situation ... primarily a result of high turnover and the incessant need for personnel for reinforcement in the call centers." That includes the banking, insurance and capital market industries.

Manpower's U.S.-based office issued a statement summing up its global findings for the upcoming quarter: "Employers are most confident about adding employees in the next three months in Taiwan, India, Panama, Brazil, Turkey and Peru, while those in Greece, Italy, Finland, Ireland, Spain, Slovakia, Netherlands, Czech Republic and Poland report the weakest and only negative hiring intentions worldwide.

"Across the Europe, Middle East and Africa region, fourth-quarter hiring expectations are positive in 13 of 24 countries with net employment outlooks improving or remaining relatively stable from three months ago in 13 labor markets. On the other hand, in a year-over-year comparison, the hiring pace is expected to weaken in 15 markets. Opportunities for job seekers in the region are expected to be strongest in Turkey, Romania, Israel and Norway, and weakest in Greece and Italy."