The outlook for the Colorado Springs job market in the second quarter is the best for the April-to-June period in five years, according to a quarterly hiring survey by temporary staffing giant Manpower.

The percentage of employers in the Springs planning to expand staff during the second quarter exceeds those anticipating reductions by 16 percentage points, with 23 percent expecting additional hiring and 7 percent planning staffing cuts. That is the most optimistic result from the survey for the April-to-June quarter since 2008, just a few months before the financial crisis hit. At that time, 26 percent of local employers said they planned to increase staffing levels and 9 percent said they expected to reduce the size of their workforce.

“This is encouraging,” said Tom Binnings, a senior partner with Summit Economics LLC, a local economic research and consulting firm. While Binnings remains concerned about the impact of automatic federal budget cuts that began March 1, “it looks like the job market is improving,” he said.

The survey reinforces recent hiring announcements by telecommunications giant CenturyLink, discount electronics retailer Tech For Less, defense contractors Infinity Systems Engineering and Lockheed Martin and call centers operated by cable television giant Comcast and insurers Progressive and UnitedHealth. The improved hiring outlook comes with unemployment rate for the Colorado Springs area at  9 percent in December; the rate for January is scheduled to be released March 22 by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The second-quarter outlook is much better than the outlook for the current quarter, when 16 percent of the local employers surveyed were expecting additional hiring while 7 percent anticipated cutbacks, and slightly better than a year ago, when 19 percent of employers planned to expand their staff and 5 percent saw reductions coming. The local job market is usually strongest in the third quarter — employers surveyed last year had the most optimistic outlook then of any quarter in nearly four years, with the percentage of those planning hiring exceeding those expecting cuts by 21 percentage points.

The second-quarter employment outlook for the Springs is in the top third in the nation, tied for 21st with seven other cities among the 100 largest metropolitan areas in the Manpower survey. That is just above the outlook for the Denver area, where the percentage of employers planning to hire exceeded those expecting cuts by 15 percentage points.

Manpower said its survey found local job prospects are upbeat in most industries, with cuts expected in manufacturing and services and no change expected in the construction, information technology and financial services industries.

Statewide, 22 percent of employers surveyed told Manpower they plan to hire more employees during the second quarter, while 7 percent expect to reduce payrolls. Nationwide, 18 percent of the 18,000 employers surveyed said they expect to add staff, while 5 percent expect to make cuts. When adjusted for seasonal changes, the percentage planning additional hiring exceeds those planning reductions by 11 percentage points, or slightly less than the previous quarter and slightly more than the same quarter a year earlier.

“As the economic tailwinds of the housing, banking and auto industries continue to pick up, we are seeing a gradual acceleration in hiring, accompanied by fewer companies decreasing staff,” ManpowerGroup President Jonas Prising said in a press release.

Contact Wayne Heilman: 636-0234 Twitter @wayneheilman
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