New Survey Shows Expectations for Job Market Stability

Anne Woods, an Express franchise owner in Covina and Santa Fe Springs, California, notes that the local employment market is holding steady.

“The market is not changing either way,” she said. “All economic indicators remain positive.”

However, Reid Bates, who owns Express offices in the Washington cities of Olympia, Aberdeen and Centralia, said the market is much more bullish, in part because of federal policymaking.

“The employment environment is trending up,” he said. “Employers are starting their search early and often, given the heightened awareness of a tight labor market. The outlook for a strong business environment, due in part to tax relief, is fueling part of that growth on top of an already heating up economy.”

In a survey of businesses, Express asked respondents, “Is your current employment market staying the same, trending up or trending down.”

  • 49 percent said “staying the same”
  • 42 percent said “trending up”
  • 9 percent said “trending down”

In Mobile, Alabama, Express franchise owner Chris Ashcraft said that business leaders are optimistic about the future. He cites specific developments in his market.

“In the past year, Amazon and Walmart opened distribution centers, Airbus is building a new line to produce aircraft, shipbuilding is ongoing, and business at the port of Mobile has increased by 19 percent,” he said.

John Calabrese, an Express franchise owner in Utica, New York, said his market is trending up in part because of infrastructure investments.

“Many of our employers are going through business expansions that will include the addition of new employees,” he said. “We are seeing big investments in infrastructure across our client base and the need for skilled workers to support their growth. The fourth quarter was stronger than in years past for employment growth here, and we expect that to continue into 2018.”

Bettye Taylor, a managing director in Oklahoma City, describes most businesses as “cautiously optimistic,” and notes, “in my division, a key indicator is seeing an uptick in manufacturing jobs.” She added, “I’m also seeing an overall increase in the creative roles—marketing, sales, advertising, etc. These are typically the last to ‘come back,’ so it’s another sign of confidence in the economy.”

“It’s very encouraging that the Express franchise owners are seeing a continuing trend improvement in their local job markets,” said Bob Funk, CEO of Express, and a former chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. “However, the biggest challenge we continue to see isn’t a lack of jobs but a lack of qualified and available workers. I see that challenge only growing as we head in 2018.”

The survey of 462 businesses, which are current and former clients of Express Employment Professionals, was conducted in November and December 2017 to gauge respondents’ expectations for the first quarter of 2018.

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