ManpowerGroup Employment Outlook Survey – Q1 2020

The ManpowerGroup Employment Outlook Survey for the first quarter 2020 was conducted by interviewing a representative sample of 2,101 employers in the UK.

All survey participants were asked, “How do you anticipate total employment at your location to change in the three months to the end of March 2020 as compared to the current quarter?”

The survey results for this quarter report that:

  • Q1 2020 Outlook is lower than any time since 2012 but skills shortages continue
  • London dips to first negative Outlook in a decade
  • West Midlands and the manufacturing sector buck the trend with more optimistic hiring sentiment.

UK employers are reporting their weakest hiring confidence in seven years, according to new research from ManpowerGroup. Hiring intentions for the first quarter of 2020 are down three percentage points to +2%, the lowest they have been since 2012. Declining confidence in nearly every sector and region paints a sluggish picture for the start of 2020, with only a few bright spots standing out.

Chris Gray, director of ManpowerGroup UK says: “Signs of a slowing global economy, a General Election and a lack of clarity about Brexit are all weighing heavily on the minds of employers leading to many hiring plans being put on ice. Employers want certainty before they can make investment decisions and firm up hiring plans.”

Gray continues: “Employers are hitting the pause button after many years of strong hiring. The challenge is how employers ramp up their hiring plans in the future – the labour market continues to be very tight with employers continuing to report a shortage of skills such as engineers, IT staff, trades people, customer service representatives and medical professionals – irrespective of sector or location. We see little sign of skills shortages easing in the foreseeable future. Our advice is that employers must keep planning – thinking about their strategies for attraction, retention, training and succession planning to best prepare for the future.”

One of the most eye-catching figures this quarter is the abrupt fall of employer hiring confidence in London to -1%, a five-percentage point quarterly decrease and the capital’s first negative Outlook since 2010. This can perhaps be linked to the four-point decrease in the Finance and Business Services sector, which is now at +2%.