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Auto sector faces employment slump

Employers in the auto-manufacturing sector are predicting a drop in employment prospects for the first three months of the year, according to recruitment firm Manpower's 'Quarterly survey of employment prospects'.

The survey asked over 2,000 UK companies, spanning 12 regions and 19 industries, if they expect an increase, decrease or no change in their staffing levels in the three months to the end of March 2002. A 'net job gains' figure is calculated by subtracting the percentage of companies expecting to reduce staff numbers by the percentage expecting to take on staff.

'Net job gains' in auto-manufacturing are -2, down from -1 a year ago. This is below overall UK employment prospects, which face a sharp dive in the first quarter of 2002.

UK employer's predictions for the period January-March 2002 show the steepest quarter-on-quarter drop in the 33-year history of the survey, equalling the severe fall in prospects in the first quarter 1999, when 'net job gains' also dropped from 20 to 0, before immediately picking up in the second quarter.

For the first quarter 2002, the national average net job gains is 0 - down from a net job gains of 20 in the last quarter and 12 this time last year.

16% of companies are expecting to take on more staff in the period January-March 2002, but 16% are expecting to make lay offs. In the previous quarter - which followed September 11th - the figures were 30% expecting an increase and only 10% expecting a fall. A year ago the respective figures were 25% and 13%.

Iain Herbertson, managing director of Manpower, job prospects in the sector are fragile: "Employment prospects in auto-manufacturing rose steadily in the period 1991-1995, before reaching a plateau until end 1998. A fall in fortunes followed until Q4 2000, when prospects began to rise, so next quarter's fall is concerning.

"That said, the first quarter of the year is always the slowest for employment prospects, fuelled by the traditional slow-down in consumer spending, and not all types of work are in decline. Indeed, in a period of economic uncertainty we are seeing greater use of flexible workforces: in 2001 our business was ahead of optimistic predictions from the survey and for 2002 we are anticipating continued business growth."

  • Manpower's 'Quarterly survey of employment prospects' covers a UK-spread of company board directors, general managers and company secretaries. This latest research was conducted in the third week of November 2001, amongst 2080 companies in 19 industry sectors.
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