Oklahoma is expected to be one of the stronger job markets for hiring in the country in the first quarter of 2013, according to the latest Manpower Employment Outlook Survey.
But most employers expect to maintain their current employment levels in the first three months of next year as the economy continues to recover.
Manpower's hiring survey said Oklahoma's employment outlook was the fifth-best in the nation. From January to March, 18 percent of companies surveyed plan to add jobs, while 4 percent expect to reduce their payrolls, 75 percent plan to maintain their employment levels, and 3 percent weren't sure.
Rob Denton, Manpower's Oklahoma City branch manager, said the survey was surprising given all the talk over uncertainty in the economy, driven by negotiations in Congress about the “fiscal cliff,” a term to describe tax increases and spending cuts set to take effect at year's end.
Oklahoma City area employers have a positive outlook for the first quarter, with 17 percent of those surveyed saying they plan to add jobs. Six percent plan cuts, and 74 percent expect no changes, the survey said.
Area job prospects appear best in durable goods manufacturing; wholesale and retail trade; financial activities; professional and business services; education and health services; leisure and hospitality; and government.
Denton said hiring at oil field equipment manufacturing is expected to be solid. He said some employers in manufacturing and service sectors are having a hard time finding qualified applicants.
“If you have a high school diploma and you pass a drug test, we have a job for you,” Denton said.
In the Tulsa metro area, Manpower said 18 percent of businesses surveyed expect to add jobs in the first quarter, 2 percent plan layoffs, 77 percent expect no changes to their employment levels, and 3 percent are unsure of their plans.