Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Area businesses may set job pace in fourth quarter

Area businesses may set job pace in fourth quarter
By RACHEL RASKIN-ZRIHEN/Times-Herald staff writer
Article Launched: 09/09/2008

Employers in the Solano-Napa county area expect to hire at a solid clip during the fourth quarter of 2008, outpacing much of the Bay Area, according to the latest national employment forecast.

"Our market in the Solano-Napa area is a little stronger than the surrounding area, and I think the reason is that we have more retail and medical here than many other places," said Sherrie Phillipi, a local Manpower, Inc. spokeswoman. "That's what's holding us up."

Thirty-seven percent of the companies interviewed plan to hire more employees from October to December, while 10 percent expect to reduce their payrolls, Phillipi said, for a 27 percent net gain.

Fifty-three percent plan to maintain current staff levels, the survey shows.

Nationally, Tri-Cities, Wash, ranked first, with a net gain of 73 percent after allowing for the percentage of employers planning layoffs, according to the Manpower Employment Outlook Survey.

Only three California areas ranked in the top 10 for expected job growth, the survey showed. Those were Modesto, which ranked seventh, Long Beach/South Bay Area at ninth and Stockton at 10th. Stockton employers expected a 40 percent net gain, the survey showed.

Two California areas - Orange County and Fresno - ranked among the weakest in expected job growth at negative 25 percent and negative 20 percent, respectively.

The Solano-Napa area is expected to do relatively well compared to much of the rest of the region, the survey shows.

The Santa Rosa area, for instance, is expecting a "dim" job market in the coming quarter, with only 3 percent of employers surveyed thinking of hiring and 20 percent expecting to cut jobs, it revealed. And in San Francisco, Oakland and Sacramento, the survey reveals "mild" to "modest" job markets expected, with about 20 percent planning to hire and about 12 percent to reduce payroll.

"Local employers anticipate staff levels to be lower than the third quarter of 2008 when 53 percent of companies interviewed intended to add employees, and 10 percent planned to reduce staff levels," said Phillipi. "Compared to one year ago when 37 percent of companies surveyed planned to increase staff levels and 17 percent expected to cut payrolls, hiring intentions for the fourth quarter are stronger."

For the coming quarter, job prospects appear best in durable goods manufacturing, transportation-public utilities and wholesale-retail trade, Phillipi said.

Employers in construction and non-durable goods manufacturing plan to cut staffing levels, while those in services voice mixed hiring intentions. Hiring in finance-insurance-real estate, education and public administration is expected to remain unchanged, she said.

That compares to 22 percent of the 14,000 employers surveyed nationally who expect to increase their staff levels during the October-December period, the survey shows.

Thirteen percent nationally expect to reduce their payrolls, resulting in a positive net employment outlook of 9 percent.

The next Manpower Employment Outlook Survey on Dec. 9 will report hiring expectations for the first quarter of 2009.