NEW YORK (Reuters) — Prospects for jobseekers are gloomier in most major economies than they were three months ago, as weak United States and European economies begin to affect employers' confidence in other parts of the world, according to a quarterly hiring survey by Manpower.
Manpower chief executive Jeff Joerres describes the global jobs climate as tenuous, comparing it to a ball atop a hill: given a slight nudge, it could roll either forward or back.
"A collection of little things on the margin can move the ball," Joerres said.
The global staffing services company said the fourth-quarter hiring outlook is lower in 21 of 39 countries and territories. Prospects are stronger in 13 economies and unchanged in five others versus the third-quarter.
"Companies remain on the sidelines when it comes to hiring," Joerres said. "Until there's more visibility (about) demand improvement, we're going to see companies completely resistant to adding workers for the fear that they'll have to reduce that same cost."
When compared with the fourth quarter of last year, the job outlook is stronger in most countries and territories, found the survey.
Manpower's global survey, which polled more than 65,000 employers, found evidence slow U.S. growth was affecting job creation elsewhere. India's hiring outlook fell steeply from the third quarter, partly because its IT industry relies on U.S. sales.
Employers in China are also expecting less robust hiring in the next three months.
"Even the emerging economies, with their growing middle classes, still can't avoid the effect of the U.S. slowdown," Joerres said. "China has a great middle class demographic but they still rely a lot on export goods to the U.S."
Rising labour costs have also made Chinese companies, especially small businesses, more reluctant to add workers, the survey found. Europe's austerity programs are also hurting demand for goods produced in emerging markets, Manpower said.
The weakest hiring outlooks are in Mediterranean countries hit by an ongoing debt crisis, including Greece, Italy and Spain. These countries' problems are affecting confidence in northern Europe, including the Netherlands. Central European economies such as Poland, Romania and the Czech Republic showed mostly lower readings.
In Asia-Pacific, spending on reconstruction after a destructive March earthquake lifted Japanese employers' optimism to its highest reading in three years. Sentiment in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore was little changed and dipped in Australia.
In the Americas, employers in Canada and Mexico are less optimistic than three months ago, but the outlook brightened in Colombia and Brazil.