Survey: Some employment may decline

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 1, 1999

Despite the consistently low unemployment rate, Freeborn County may see fewer jobs available in upcoming months.

Wednesday, September 01, 1999

Despite the consistently low unemployment rate, Freeborn County may see fewer jobs available in upcoming months.

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A recent Manpower survey showed 10 percent of businesses surveyed were planning to cut positions. However, 43 percent reported they intend to expand their work force and 47 percent expect no changes. The Employment Outlook Survey, issued by Manpower Inc. for October, November and December was released Monday.

Even though the majority of responding businesses do plan to increase their employment pool, Albert Lea Manpower manager Mary Mudra didn’t expect so many employers to be looking at cutbacks.

&uot;I was really surprised about that number,&uot; Mudra said. &uot;There was a time when that was zero.&uot;

Last fall the forecast was quite similar as 43 percent reported more help was needed, while 6 percent foresaw staff reductions. Even more optimism was expressed three months ago, when 43 percent were in a recruitment mode and none sought workforce cutbacks.

While the number of businesses currently looking to eliminate jobs is higher than Mudra expected, she added that there is no need for Albert Leans to be concerned about the economy or the job market here.

&uot;I don’t think this should be an indication that the need for workers has slowed,&uot; Mudra said. &uot;The needs will continue to be abundant here.&uot;

However, she expects some industries to slow in the coming months, while others pick up.

&uot;The last quarter of the year is especially subject to seasonal highs and lows, with the addition of holiday workers, but decreased activity in other industries,&uot; Mudra said.

A Manpower survey that included 12 Midwest states showed that industries like construction planned higher decreases. Construction industries planned a 17 percent decrease, while public administration industries showed a 16 percent decrease. Overall, the majority of Midwest industries, 58 percent, plan no change in the coming months.

Looking ahead, personnel increases are most likely in durable and non-durable goods manufacturing, as well as wholesale/retail trade. Some reductions are expected in education. Mixed readings come from the services sector, the survey reported.

Mudra speculated that many businesses are finding ways to cope with the shortage of workers by becoming more efficient, allowing industry leaders to find means to consolidate and eliminate positions. That includes industries that are becoming more automated and those that are combining the tasks of several different positions into one.

Manpower Inc. conducts the Employment Outlook Survey quarterly. It is a measurement of employers’ intentions to increase or decrease the permanent work force, and during its 23-year history has been a indicator of employment trends. The survey is based on telephone interviews with 16,000 public and private employers in 489 U.S. cities.

Currently, the unemployment rate for Freeborn County remains lower than the state and national figures.

With 423 unemployed in the county, the rate of 2.5 percent still outpaces the national average of 4.5 percent. Statewide, the average unemployment rate is 2.6 percent.