March 13, 2013

Survey: Seeking work? Portland is promising

By Dennis Hoey dhoey@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

PORTLAND — Tucson, Ariz., Des Moines, Iowa, Salt Lake City and San Jose, Calif., will be among the top metropolitan areas in the nation to find a job this year, according to predictions contained within a newly released jobs outlook survey.

But who would have thought that Portland would be ranked higher than those larger cities?

In fact, the survey ranks Portland, South Portland and Biddeford as the best metropolitan region in the entire United States to land a new job in the next quarter.

Seattle, New Orleans, Detroit, New York City, Honolulu and Philadelphia are listed among the worst cities to find employment.

"Frankly, I was surprised," said Chris Hall, chief executive officer of the Portland Regional Chamber.

The quarterly survey was conducted by the Manpower Group, a national employment services firm based in Milwaukee, Wis. The Manpower Employment Outlook Survey contacted more than 18,000 employers in 100 metropolitan areas.

The survey also found that Maine will be one of the best places in 2013 to find a job.

About 150 Maine employers were contacted for the survey, according to Mary Ann Lasky, a Manpower spokesperson. Twenty-seven percent of those companies indicated they planned to hire more employees, while 66 percent said they planned to maintain current staffing levels.

"It's more a measure of hiring confidence than anything else," Lasky explained. "It's not about the number of jobs that are available. Overall, we found that the employers in Maine and Portland are confident that they will be hiring."

Nationally, Manpower found that 18 percent of employers contacted planned to hire new staff while 73 percent said they planned to keep their work force levels steady. Just 5 percent of the companies surveyed said they planned to let staff go.

Though Hall said he was caught off guard when a reporter from Forbes contacted him about the survey, the more thought he gave to the matter, the more it made sense.

Hall said Portland-area companies are looking to hire people, but in many cases -- especially in the information technology field -- there just are not enough qualified workers to fill positions.

"I've been hearing from CEOs (chief executive officers) all over the region that they need talent. It's become pretty clear that there is intense competition for the talent that is out there," he said.

"This survey tells me there is reason for optimism moving forward," Hall added.

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

dhoey@pressherald.com

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