Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Job Hunting? You May Be in Luck; Local Businesses Are Looking to Hire Again, despite Grim Outlook

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Job Hunting? You May Be in Luck; Local Businesses Are Looking to Hire Again, despite Grim Outlook

Article excerpt

Byline: MARK BASCH

Amid all the gloomy recent data on the job market, Manpower Inc. offers a ray of hope for Jacksonville.

According to its quarterly survey of businesses nationwide, the employment firm found that 17 percent of Jacksonville-area companies interviewed are planning to hire more workers between April and June, while only 12 percent are planning more cutbacks. The rest plan to hold steady.

"Jacksonville has the lowest percentage that plan on reducing payrolls" among the 15 cities surveyed in Florida, said Judy Leppla, Manpower's regional director for Florida.

Jacksonville's net employment outlook (percentage planning increases minus those planning cuts) of 5 percent is better than the net outlook for the entire country for the second quarter, which is 1 percent, according to Manpower.

The survey comes days after some dire statistics on unemployment were released for Jacksonville and the rest of the country. On Friday, the U.S. Labor Department reported that the national unemployment rate jumped from a seasonally-adjusted 7.6 percent in January to 8.1 percent in February. Meanwhile, the Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation reported that the jobless rate for the Jacksonville metropolitan area soared from 7.4 percent in December to 8.5 percent in January. The local data for Jacksonville lags behind the national data, so there is no local data for February yet.

However, upon closer inspection, the latest data for Jacksonville may not have been as bad as it appeared. The state labor agency does not seasonally-adjust its data for Jacksonville. But the University of North Florida's Local Economic Indicators Project said Monday that when the Jacksonville data is seasonally adjusted, it shows that the unemployment rate was about unchanged in January at 7.4 percent.

UNF economist Paul Mason said January is a month when there are normally a lot of layoffs as businesses that increased staffs for the holiday season pare down. …

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