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We’re Wary but Hopeful As 2012 Gets Under Way (01/03/12) Zappe, John

Americans are relatively optimistic regarding the state of the economy as the new year begins. Consumer confidence is up, the stock market has gained of late, and there is a cautious willingness among employers to add even more staff this year.

That caution has led Monster to predict that temporary hiring is likely to be strong well into 2012. In its December report, the American Staffing Association reported that the staffing index has been increasing, slowly, but steadily, since February 2011, and is now pretty much where it was at the end of last year. ASA corporate partner CareerBuilder says that one in four employers plans to add permanent staff this year, about the same number the job board reported for 2011. Manpower’s quarterly employment survey was even a bit more positive, finding that 14% of employers intend to add jobs in the first three months of the year, its strongest hiring outlook since 2008.

CareerBuilder chief executive Matt Ferguson predicts a better employment picture for 2012 than the numbers might imply. “Historically, our surveys have shown that employers are more conservative in their predictions than actual hiring,” says Ferguson. “Barring any major economic upsets, we expect 2012 to bring a better hiring picture than 2011, especially in the second half of the year.”