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Staffing firms are upbeat about CNY job market in 2012

By Journal Staff


Central New York seems poised for strong job-placement market in 2012, according to officials from a pair of major staffing firms operating in the area.

“I think we’re getting stronger,” says Peter DeBottis, branch manager at Manpower’s Syracuse office. “The local companies are talking to us more about their needs.”

Manpower is a division of the Milwaukee–based ManpowerGroup (NYSE: MAN) that offers a range of staffing services, both temporary and permanent. Its Syracuse office is in Suite 125 at 2 Clinton Square.

DeBottis says he expects quarter-over-quarter staffing-placement results for 2012 at the Syracuse office will be stronger than last year. He pointed to a Manpower Employment Outlook Survey released in December that predicted a majority of employers in the Syracuse metropolitan statistical area will increase or maintain their staff levels in the first quarter of 2012.

The survey found that 13 percent of Syracuse–area employers expect to increase staff levels in the first quarter of 2012, while 6 percent of employers anticipate decreasing staff levels. Another 73 percent plan to maintain staffing, and 8 percent responded that they are uncertain about future staffing.

That yielded an area net employment outlook of plus 7 percent — the same as the first quarter of 2011. 

In that quarter, 16 percent of employers said they would be increasing staff levels, and 9 percent predicted a decrease in staffing. An additional 72 percent said they would be maintaining levels, while 3 percent said they did not know what they would do.

Although the survey results show a slightly lower portion of companies planning to add staff members in 2012’s first quarter, DeBottis says he is seeing more activity among the local companies that are interested in adding employees.

“It’s not so much of a wait-and-see attitude,” he says. “Companies are being more proactive.”

In 2011, businesses working with Manpower hired temporary and temporary-to-hire workers at a high rate, according to DeBottis, who did not specify that rate. Now companies are looking at hiring permanent positions much more frequently, he says.

DeBottis declined to provide the number of companies with which Manpower works. He says the Syracuse office currently has a database of approximately 3,000 potential employees to place. That database swelled in the last year as people with professional skills have come to the Syracuse Manpower office seeking work, according to DeBottis, who declined to say how much the database has grown.

“I think it has grown since the beginning of 2011 with higher-level candidates,” he says. “For the most part they’re prequalified.”

Prequalified candidates can step onto a jobsite without needing additional training, according to DeBottis.

Segments where companies are frequently hiring include information technology, sales, education, and government, DeBottis says. Another strong segment is hospitality and leisure, he added.



A locally based staffing firm is also seeing strong growth in some of those segments. Laurie Liechty, president of Professionals Inc. and Contemporary Personnel Staffing, Inc. (CPS), says she has seen heavy demand for information technology and engineering workers.

Firms looking for information-technology employees seem to be interested in permanent hiring, as 63 percent of Professionals Inc.’s 2011 placements in that field have been in direct hiring, according to Liechty. A direct hire occurs when a company contracts with Professionals Inc. to recruit and screen a candidate that the contracting company will interview and hire as a full-time employee.

Direct hiring has also been popular among firms searching for human-resources employees, as 85 percent of Professionals Inc.’s recent placements in that field have been direct hires.

Liechty founded CPS in 1989 and spun off Professionals Inc. in 1996. The companies are headquartered on Seventh North Street in Salina.

Predicting the job-placement market is a difficult task, Liechty says. But CPS and Professionals Inc. appear to be in line for a good year, she adds.

“We have our open house for our clients at the end of the year, and we walked away from that saying this year is going to be strong,” Liechty says. “And that is the general tone compared to the previous couple of years.”

Liechty expects Professionals Inc. and CPS to increase their revenue by 15 percent in 2012 versus 2011. She declined to provide exact totals, but said the firms worked with nearly 200 companies last year.

Professionals Inc. also concentrates in Washington, D.C., Virginia, Maryland, Rochester, and Ithaca. It is experiencing strong business in those markets, particularly in the Washington, D.C., Virginia, and Maryland areas, where its government- contract division is finding that software developers, systems engineers, and test engineers are in high demand, according to Liechty.

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