Colorado Springs-area employers are pessimistic about their hiring plans in the first quarter of next year, with the percentage planning to add staff at the lowest level in three years, according to a survey by temporary staffing giant Manpower Inc.

Just 11 percent of local employers interviewed by Manpower expect to hire more staff during the January-to-March quarter, the lowest since the first quarter of 2008, while 14 percent anticipated cutting personnel, the most since the final quarter of last year. The local job market outlook is little changed from a year ago, when 12 percent of employers planned staff expansions and 14 percent were forecasting staff reductions.

During the current quarter, 18 percent of local employers surveyed expected additional hiring, while 14 percent anticipated cutbacks.

 The latest survey said local job prospects during the coming quarter are expected to be best in the manufacturing and service industries and weakest in construction, transportation, utilities and business services.

The hiring outlook for the Springs is less optimistic than either the Denver area or statewide. In Denver, 17 percent of employers surveyed plan additional hiring, while 13 percent expect to reduce staff. Statewide, the percentage of employers anticipating staff additions and reductions were the same at 13 percent.

The nationwide outlook is the most promising in three years with the percentage of employers anticipating more hiring outnumbering those expecting cutbacks by 9 percent, after seasonal adjustments. The company surveys 18,000 employers nationwide in the 100 largest metropolitan areas, but does not disclose how many are included in the local survey.

“Across nearly all geographies in the word, the confidence to do additional hiring is improving,” said Manpower Chairman and CEO Jeff Joerres. “However, like the U.S., the lack of robust demand for products and services is creating a persistent level of uncertainty.”