Global hiring conditions are expected to remain stable for the remainder of 2013, but Manpower Group’s fourth-quarter Manpower Employment Outlook survey, released today, reveals few signs that global hiring momentum will improve by any notable degree.

This quarter’s research of over 65 000 hiring managers across 42 countries and territories reveals:

* Employers in fewer countries plan to boost payrolls: Employers in 29 of the 42 countries and territories surveyed plan to increase hiring by varying degrees during the fourth quarter, compared with 32 during the July-September timeframe.

Hiring prospects are stronger in only 14 of 42 countries and territories when compared with the prior quarter, weaken in 19 and are unchanged in nine. Outlooks are stronger in 16 countries and territories when compared with one year ago at this time, but hiring plans weaken in 25 and are unchanged in one.

* US outlook strongest in over five years: The hiring outlook in the US now stands at its strongest level since 2Q 2008 after steadily improving for four years, although still significantly below its previous peak in 2006.

Staffing levels are expected to grow in all 13 industry sectors and all four regions. Quarter-over-quarter, hiring intentions weaken in 11 sectors but improve in two regions. When compared with 4Q 2012, hiring prospects strengthen in seven sectors and all four regions.

* Emerging markets lead the way: Fourth-quarter hiring plans in India are the most optimistic across the globe, and are expected to rebound decisively following four consecutive quarters of relatively lacklustre forecasts. After India, hiring prospects are strongest in Taiwan, Panama, Singapore and Brazil.

* Weakest hiring expectations in European countries: The softest opportunities for job seekers are expected in Italy, Spain, Finland, Ireland and Hungary. Although The Eurozone is now technically out of recession, overall hiring intentions are slightly weaker in Europe.

Employers forecast job gains in 10 of 23 countries in the fourth quarter, compared to 13 positive forecasts reported three months ago. Payroll cuts are expected in 10 countries – the same as in 3Q. Employers in Turkey report the region’s most upbeat hiring plans, while the labour market recovery in Greece is forecast to continue.

* Upbeat outlook in China and Japan: Chinese employers anticipate a respectable hiring pace for the rest of 2013, with outlooks unchanged quarter-over-quarter and relatively stable year-over-year.

For the second consecutive quarter, Japanese employers report upbeat hiring intentions, with a seasonally adjusted Net Employment Outlook of +15%. Hiring prospects are four percentage points stronger when compared with 4Q 2012.

“There are encouraging signs from many parts of the world, including evidence of economic stability in Europe, and steady job creation and unemployment at a four-year low in the US, helping to reduce some of the uncertainty that has clouded the global economic environment,” says Jeffrey Joerres, ManpowerGroup chairman and CEO.

“However, while those clouds are starting to break up, there is still not enough of a clear picture for employers to move out of wait-and-see-mode and commit to more aggressive full-time hiring.

“There needs to be further consistent improvement in the overall global picture before we will see noticeable, collective change. There are numerous pockets of momentum but, as yet, this has not proved to be consistent enough or sustained enough to translate into any meaningful breakthrough.”

Indian employers anticipate hiring intentions strengthening by 16 and 22 percentage points quarter-over-quarter and year-over-year respectively. Elsewhere in Asia, employers expect to increase the workforce in all six industry sectors and all nine regions in China during 4Q 2013. It is a similar story in Japan, with staffing levels expected to grow in all sectors and regions.

Tokyo employers report the most optimistic hiring plans since 3Q 2008, while the Osaka Outlook is the strongest since 2Q 2008. Conversely, the seasonally adjusted Net Employment Outlook in Australia is the weakest reported by employers in over four years.

“Indian companies are grappling with talent shortages, with a serious gap between the skills companies need and those possessed by available applicants. Employability skills – such as collaboration and critical thinking – have become paramount as would-be employers become more exacting and demanding,” says Darryl Green, ManpowerGroup president.

“In response to these shortages, employers are increasingly turning to new methods of recruiting – tapping social networks to access hidden talent.”

Employers in all 10 countries in the Americas once again anticipate growing staffing levels in the coming quarter. Employers in Panama forecast the region’s strongest fourth-quarter hiring pace while those in Argentina report the least optimistic hiring plans.

The outlook in the US is the most optimistic reported since 2Q 2008, while the hiring pace in Brazil is expected to remain respectable through the end of the year despite a considerable decline in the Outlook year-over-year. Meanwhile, hiring activity is expected to continue at a steady pace in both Mexico and Canada.

“The rising demand for temporary employment in the US reflects a new workforce strategy and is a good barometer of economic growth. Companies have grown accustomed to the continuing uncertainty and are changing the structure of how they conduct business,” says Jonas Prising, ManpowerGroup president.

“The favourable hiring outlook and steady improvement in the US labour market bodes well for 2014, although the speed of the recovery is still muted.”

Turkish employers once again report the strongest hiring intentions in Europe, although the forecast declines by six percentage points quarter-over-quarter and three percentage points year-over-year. French employers report flat hiring intentions, while their German counterparts anticipate slow-paced hiring activity during the October-December timeframe.

Employers remain cautiously optimistic in the UK, but Italian employers expect the weakest labour market since the survey began in the country in 3Q 2003 and Spanish employers report their 22nd consecutive quarter of negative hiring prospects.

There is better news from Ireland – where hiring plans are three percentage points stronger both quarter-over-quarter and year-over-year – and Greece, where employers report the strongest Net Employment Outlook since 2Q 2010.

“The Eurozone’s emergence from recession and unemployment across 17 EU countries falling for the first time in two years are indicators, while not of robust growth coming out of Europe, at least of a bottoming out,” adds Green.

“German employers continue to report a shortage of skilled labour, and a number of organizations are targeting their search for talent beyond Germany’s borders and offering opportunities to older workers. To the west, demand for IT specialists remains strong in the Netherlands, with programming and development specialists sought after across many sectors.

“Southern Europe remains extremely challenged in general, particularly Italy and Spain, but Turkey is the exception to the rule – despite hiring intentions there weakening from both last quarter and last year at this time,” says Prising.

“We also note a gradual uptick in Greece; employers in the Greater Athens region, for example report their first positive outlook in 15 quarters.”