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Coronavirus: Most firms expect hiring to recover by next April

Tom Belger
·Finance and policy reporter
·2-min read
People wearing PPE (personal protective equipment), including face masks as a precautionary measure against COVID-19, walk to take a London Underground Tube train in the evening rush hour at Waterloo station on May 11, 2020, as life in Britain continues during the nationwide lockdown due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. - The British government on Monday published what it said was a "cautious roadmap" to ease the seven-week coronavirus lockdown in England, notably recommending people wear facemasks in some public settings. But the devolved governments in Scotland and Wales have opted for a more cautious approach, keeping the strictest stay-at-home measures in place to contain the outbreak. (Photo by ISABEL INFANTES / AFP) (Photo by ISABEL INFANTES/AFP via Getty Images)
UK firms' hiring intentions are at a survey record low. (Isabel Infantes/AFP via Getty Images)

Employers across the world expect the coronavirus to heavily squeeze hiring over the next few months, according to a leading survey of firms.

A new poll of 38,000 organisations by recruitment giant ManpowerGroup (MAN) lays bare how the pandemic is hobbling the labour market across the globe. One of the most comprehensive surveys yet on global hiring, it also shows more than half of employers expect hiring to be back at pre-pandemic levels by April next year.

The research found hiring intentions had weakened in every one of the 43 countries where employers were surveyed. In 27 countries, they were at their lowest in at least 20 years. Responses were compiled in April and published on Tuesday.

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Hiring intentions in the US came in at their weakest since 2009, and in the UK their lowest since records began in 1992.

Researchers subtract the number of employers planning to reduce workforces from the number planning to expand hiring, giving a positive or negative net balance. The figure came in at a record low -12% in Britain, with more firms expecting to slash than create jobs in the third quarter.

"The significant declines across many countries reflect the unprecedented speed and magnitude of shutdown, which resulted in an almost total activity freeze across many industries,” said Jonas Prising, ManpowerGroup Chairman & CEO.

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But Manpower said in a press release the results also found “cautious optimism” among employers, who were asked when they expected hiring to be back at pre-virus levels — 54% said they expected a return by April 2021.

In the UK, some 57% of employers expected hiring levels to recover by this time next year. The survey also shows around three-quarters of the UK employers surveyed expected to retain current staffing levels in the coming quarter.

Mark Cahill, managing director of ManpowerGroup UK, said: “While there’s no getting away from the challenges that lie ahead, the data underlines the resilience of UK employers.”

He said the pandemic was reshaping the labour market rapidly, with some sectors experiencing growth. “In the past few weeks we have seen thousands of requests globally for roles that have never existed before, such as contact tracers and temperature checkers.

“The uniquely difficult circumstances will mean that some of us will do roles that have never existed before and others will never do the same role again.”