Some sectors see increase in hiring

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Is there a greater interest among employers willing to hire now, compared to a year ago? It depends on whom you ask.

“I think over the next couple of months, you'll see slow, steady growth; a lot depends on some of the economic news that's coming out,” said Gary Bennett, regional vice president in the Pennsylvania Marketplace for Right Management, a workforce consulting firm within ManpowerGroup. “I think the trends have pointed to organizations starting to lift their restrictions on hiring.”

Right Management's recent global hiring survey showed that employers are more optimistic on prospects for business growth and increased spending on talent development in 2013. The survey polled more than 2,000 senior human resources executives in 14 nations.

A majority (52 percent) of the 650 U.S. executives participating in the survey expect recovery in 2013, up from one-third who had a stronger view a year ago, according to the survey. Two in four assume this year will be similar to 2012, characterized by slow growth and delayed human resources initiatives. Ten percent of American respondents anticipate more cutbacks or restructurings.

The global findings were slightly less optimistic than those for the U.S., with 47 percent predicting recovery and 33 percent merely sluggish growth. Nineteen percent, for the most part in Europe, foresee stagnation and reductions in force.

Often, when one hiring report shows employers are optimistic, a new survey the next week will show a more downbeat outlook.

“We're definitely not seeing that [optimism],” said Tina Hamilton, president and CEO of hireVisionGroup Inc. of Allentown. “We have not seen any changes. I haven't seen any indications of people wanting to change. I think companies are running their companies tight and lean.”

In a different financial environment, employers might be more optimistic, said Hamilton, whose firm provides outsourced human resources services to small and mid-size companies.

However, employers in some sectors are showing a strong interest in hiring, according to Karen Parker, associate professor of electronics and technology at Northampton Community College in Bethlehem.

As a member of the Technology Advisory Committee at the college, Parker said the group had its first meeting several weeks ago, its first meeting in two years, which drew an overwhelming response from industry representatives. They included leaders from Freshpet of Bethlehem, Fromm Electric Supply of Reading, Victaulic of Forks Township, PPL of Allentown, Kraft Foods in Upper Macungie Township and Lutron Electronics Co. Inc. of Coopersburg.

“We had 15 to 17 different companies represented,” Parker said. “They all said they are hiring; many of them are looking for interns. We have to work really hard to get that information out there.”

The ongoing problem of students and parents not viewing manufacturing as a viable career option can hinder growth, even if these companies are local, in hiring mode and ready to offer sizable salaries.

“It's a lack of career awareness,” said Parker. “We're looking for people that like to solve problems, work with their hands.”

Aside from manufacturing, sectors that should see growth include pharmaceuticals and the financial industry, said Bennett. Health care will show cautious growth as hospitals and health care organizations prepare for the costs of health care reform.

“There will be growth, but I think they will keep an eye on headcount,” said Bennett, referring to businesses in the health care field. “Expansions will continue but with a close eye on cost.”

Brian Pedersen

Brian Pedersen

Reporter Brian Pedersen covers construction, development, warehousing and real estate and keeps you up to date on the changing landscape of our community. He can be reached at brianp@lvb.com or 610-807-9619, ext. 108. Follow him on Twitter @BrianLehigh and read his blog, “Can You Dig It,” at http://www.lvb.com/section/can-you-dig-it. Brian also has a strong interest in health and fitness. He works part-time as a personal trainer at Steel Fitness Riverport in Bethlehem and earned his personal fitness trainer certification from World Instructor Training Schools. He loves to run and will be competing in his first half-marathon on Nov. 23 to raise funds for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

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