Hiring Optimism Is Starting to Emerge

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Global staffing firm ManpowerGroup has been keeping track of global hiring intentions for decades, and with the COVID-19 pandemic shaking up the world, it is now seeing a 10-year low in U.S.-based hiring intentions for the third quarter (Q3) of 2020.


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Employers in the United States report significant declines in hiring intentions for Q3, according to the ManpowerGroup Employment Outlook Survey of more than 7,700 U.S. employers conducted in April and May*.

Hiring plans in wholesale and retail trade and construction show steepest declines from the previous quarter, reflecting the impact of safer-at-home/shelter-in-force orders across the country. In contrast, employers in education and health services (+13%) and transportation and utilities (+4%) report the most positive outlooks, as frontline workers continue to be in high demand both through and after the pandemic peak.

Employers were also asked when they expect hiring to return to pre-COVID-19 levels. An optimistic 60% said before the end of 2020, with many expecting a return before the end of summer. Employers in education, construction, and government expect the shortest COVID-19 hiring impact, while those in the professional sector, including law firms, accountants, and consultants, are most uncertain.

“The past weeks and months have seen the labor market transform overnight, with many industries halting hiring instantly, while others including healthcare, ecommerce and logistics saw immediate growth,” says Becky Frankiewicz, President of ManpowerGroup North America, in a press release. “These numbers reveal the depth of the impact this crisis has had on hiring intentions across our country, yet we are beginning to see very early signs for cautious optimism.”

“As states open up essential roles remain in demand, as well as tech skills including software and app developers, and even new roles like temperature checkers and contact tracers,” Frankiewicz adds. “It is encouraging to see so many employers predict a return to pre-pandemic hiring though we must remember any signs of recovery are fragile. Now is the time for everyone to join together to rebuild confidence and create opportunities for everyone as America gets safely back to work.”

Top Essential/Nonessential Roles in Demand

ManpowerGroup’s real-time data** reveal a 10% increase in job postings nationwide in the past 10 days. Top essential and nonessential in-demand roles across the United States include:

Essential Roles

  1. Drivers
  2. Nurses
  3. Retail/grocery workers
  4. Retail/grocery supervisors
  5. Food prep supervisors
  6. Stock clerks—stockroom, warehouse
  7. Cashiers
  8. Food prep workers
  9. Nursing assistants
  10. Stock clerks—sales floor
  11. Critical care nurses
  12. Maintenance/repair workers
  13. Trades workers
  14. Freight, stock, warehouse material movers
  15. Security guards

Nonessential Roles

  1. Software and application developers
  2. Customer service representatives
  3. Insurance sales agents
  4. Supervisors, office workers
  5. Marketing managers
  6. Network systems administrators
  7. Management analysts
  8. Help desk support
  9. IT security analysts
  10. IT systems analysts
  11. Accountants
  12. Sales managers
  13. IT project managers
  14. Market research and analysts
  15. Systems engineers/architects

U.S. Hiring Plans by Industry Sectors, Regions, Metro Areas, and States

Employers in 9 U.S. industry sectors expect to add workers during the upcoming quarter:

  • Leisure and hospitality (+7%),
  • Transportation and utilities (+4%),
  • Wholesale and retail trade (+3%),
  • Construction (+2%),
  • Government (+4%),
  • Durable goods manufacturing (+1%),
  • Education and health services (+13%),
  • Financial activities (+1%), and
  • Nondurable goods manufacturing (+3%).

Information (- 3%), other services (-3%), and professional and business services (0%) are the 3 U.S. industry sectors that do not plan to add workers during the upcoming quarter.

The outlook in the Midwest (+5%), West (2%), Northeast (4%), and South (3%) all declined quarter over quarter, though hiring intentions still remain positive in all 4 regions.

*The Net Employment Outlook is derived by taking the percentage of employers anticipating an increase in hiring activity and subtracting from this the percentage of employers expecting a decrease in hiring activity.

** Data June 5, 2020. Source: ManpowerGroup insight from a scan of multiple sources, including job boards, publicly available data (e.g., Bureau of Labor Statistics), and Gartner’s Talent Neuron. To learn more, click here.

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