Many employers say ‘help wanted’

Snohomish County residents looking for work should find a much stronger job market this spring.

That’s the prediction from a new survey by Manpower Inc., an employment services company, and from the Snohomish County office of Worksource, a state employment agency.

"In the past few weeks we have had such a blur of activity," said Jan Scudder, business coordinator at Worksource. "It has just been amazing."

About one of every three Snohomish County employers surveyed by Manpower expects to hire someone between April and June, the survey reported. About 7 percent intended to reduce their workforce while 60 percent expected to maintain current staffing levels, according to the survey.

That’s good news for the area, where unemployment was at 7.3 percent in January. February’s jobless rate should be released today by the state Employment Security Department.

"Someone looking for a job no doubt will have an easier time now than in recent memory, than in the past two or three years," said Jeffrey Joerres, Manpower’s chief executive officer and chairman. "It’s still going to be difficult in that companies are going to begin this process very cautiously."

Nationally, about one in four employers plan to add workers in the second quarter of the year to keep pace with increased demand for their products or services, according to the survey of 16,000 businesses released today.

Locally, job prospects appear best in construction, transportation, public utilities, finance, insurance, real estate, education and services, according to the survey.

Scudder said employers have already been looking for people in construction, landscaping, truck driving and plumbing, jobs that typically open up in the spring. But the openings this year are much broader, she said.

"There are a lot of management positions, including some high-tech ones," she said. "And there’s a flurry of good office positions. That was a big layoff area. They want bookkeepers and are filling some very good clerical jobs."

She said there are also positions for some engineers and machinists, areas where many people were laid off by the Boeing Co. and other aerospace firms.

Job orders began to pick up in February, but have grown significantly this month. "This March, my file is really full," Scudder said. "It’s never been this full, and it’s only the middle of the month."

The Manpower results, when seasonally adjusted, are the strongest since the first quarter of 2001, soon after the economy officially entered a recession. The number of companies expecting to hire is nearly twice that of a year ago and marks the third straight quarter of increased hiring projections, company officials said.

Business editor Mike Benbow: 425-339-3459 or

According to a Manpower Inc. survey of Snohomish County employers:

  • ?About one in three expects to hire someone between April and June.

  • ?7 percent intend to reduce their workforce.

  • ?60 percent expect to maintain current staffing levels.

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