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REALITY CHECK Part 1: Hiring Robust; Hurricane Effects Mixed

--Steady Hiring Seen Into Year-end
By Vicki Schmelzer
     NEW YORK (MNI) - Job placement in most U.S. states remained robust in
September despite the storm impacts, according to recruiters interviewed for
Market News International's latest REALITY CHECK on U.S. hiring trends.
     For the Gulf Coast and the states hardest hit by Hurricanes Harvey and
Irma, while businesses lost revenue and employees were forced to stay home,
there were also new hires to deal with clean-up and insurance questions. 
     In August and early September, Joe Hohmann, owner of the Express franchise
in Naples, Florida, had been seeing steady hiring trends and September was about
"on target," but then "things changed quite dramatically" in the wake of
Hurricane Irma hitting southwest Florida Sept. 10. 
     Immediately, there was need for workers to clean up debris and remove
fallen trees and signs. Not long after, anyone in skilled trades, such as
carpenters, plumbers, electricians, dry wallers, and those in tree services and
stump grinding were in hot demand, he said. 
     This went hand and hand with demand for call center and administrative
support workers. Some of these jobs related to remediation efforts were
temporary and workers have already come and gone, but others may last a month or
so longer, he said. 
     By Monday, Sept. 18, those not immediately hit by Hurricane Irma were up
and running and "by the second half of the week, most businesses had regained
power, water and internet service and were back on line," he said. 
     In terms of his Express franchise, the storm "did impact hiring
temporarily," but "postings came back pretty quickly after the hurricanes as
well," Hohmann said. 
     Southwest Florida has a seasonal economy, with October and November busy
hiring months for positions in hospitality, country clubs, etc... and he
anticipated solid postings and placements into year-end. 
     "What we saw a bit of last year and I think we're seeing it more this year,
is that in anticipation of the seasonal hiring needs in our area, companies are
starting to hire a little bit sooner and put the feelers out there and start to
interview individuals sooner than they might normally, simply because they want
to attract the talent and get first in line to attract the top talent," Hohmann
     On the West Cost, there has been no sign of letdown in terms of employer
demand for workers. 
     "Within the last month, we've seen definitely a higher uptick and request
for our services," with companies "ramping up for the end of the year," said
Frank Armendariz, Regional Vice President Arizona and Mountain States, Manpower,
a brand of ManpowerGroup.
     Openings at call centers, distribution centers and manufacturing firms were
where he saw the largest volume in terms of positions.  
     Hurricanes Harvey and Irma "added another layer of need for employers,"
with "a significant amount of requests to support different aspects of the
hurricane that happened in Florida and in Texas," Armendariz said. 
     The immediate need in the weeks right after the hurricanes was for
"customer care" support people to be able to field insurance-related and other
calls from those devastated by the hurricane, he said.
     But looking ahead, "the construction side's going to see, and continue to
see, a significant surge," Armendariz said. 
     Reid Bates, owner of Express offices in Olympia, Centralia and Aberdeen,
Washington, saw a "very steady third quarter - higher than we've had in previous
third quarters."
     "We had more clients giving us orders and we also had more of our current
clients, that we were hiring for, with increased needs and just longer times to
fill - so, our order board has stretched out to uncomfortable lengths because of
that challenge," he said. 
     On the West Coast, Preet Kuar, Executive Recruiter and Business Development
Manager at Pacific Staffing in Sacramento, CA, had anticipated a modest slowdown
heading into October, but this was not the case. 
     "Last month for us was insane - it was really busy," she said, adding that
the firm saw requests to fill both "newly created positions" and "a lot of
replacements," i.e. fills for workers that clients recruited earlier who have
since moved on to other jobs. 
     Coming on the back of July and August, which saw solid job postings and
placements, "September was a really good month for us - September was quite an
increase for us, Kuar said. 
     Looking ahead, "we don't see recession here any time soon in our region,"
she said. 
     A increasingly robust U.S. economy and the ever-thinning talent pool in
Northern California has forced firms, that have been unable to fill positions on
their own, to turn to recruiters in September, desperate to hire ahead of the
holiday season.  
     Pacific Staffing typically handles "professional services," but more
recently, she has fielded calls for seasonal-type jobs, such as Pumpkin Patch
     "We just don't have people.  The economy is good, so parents aren't pushing
their kids to make their own money," Kuar said. 
     John Calabrese, owner of the Mohawk Valley Express office in Utica, NY, had
a record month in terms of job placements in September. 
     "The demand is tremendous," he said, with job hires seen "across all of our
sectors, which was good, and then the largest increase was taking place in
manufacturing," he said. 
     Calabrese looked for "one more surge" in hiring in late October to mid-
     His Express office just did an inventory of open jobs and what is
anticipated between now and the end of the year for their largest clients. 
     Based on these findings, "I see this continuing right through December," he
said of the current hiring trend. 
     This week, the National Retail Federation released its Holiday 2017
forecasts for retail sales and hiring, noting that the retail industry planned
on hiring between 500,000 and 550,000 seasonal workers this holiday season, down
from 575,000 temporary workers in 2016. 
     "One of the factors numbers are low for seasonal hires this year is because
retailers are offering more hours to their current staff before beefing up with
new seasonal employees," Ana Serafin Smith, senior director/media relations at
the NRF, told MNI. 
     September U.S. non-farm payroll data will be released Friday Oct. 6 at 8:30
a.m. ET. 
     MNI's median estimate looks for +70,000 for headline non-farm payrolls,
with a range of -45,000 to +125,000. The unemployment rate is expected to hold
steady at 4.4% and average hourly earnings are seen at +0.3%.
     Editor's Note: Reality Check stories report on sentiment among business
people and their trade associations. They are intended to complement and
anticipate economic data. If you are currently an MNI subscriber and want to be
on the Reality Check email-distribution list, contact
--MNI New York Bureau; tel: +1 212-669-6438; email:
[TOPICS: MAURC$,M$U$$$,MX$$$$]

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