Grand Rapids ranks No. 1 in US for summer jobs outlook


ManpowerGroup is a workforce services company. Photo via

There may be no better place to be for jobs this summer than Grand Rapids.

Top market

The Grand Rapids-Wyoming metro area is the No. 1 market in the nation for employer hiring expectations in the third quarter, according to the most recent “Manpower Employment Outlook Survey” released yesterday.

The metro area moved up from its previous second-place ranking in the spring survey.

Several other markets are expecting a strong summer hiring season: Charleston, S.C.; Dallas; Minneapolis; Raleigh, N.C., Rochester, N.Y.; and Boise, Idaho.

Top state

The survey for Q3 also ranks the state of Michigan as third in the nation for hiring expectations, while the employment outlook for the U.S. is the strongest since the second quarter of 2008.

Manpower, an employee recruiting company based in Milwaukee, said several other states are expecting a strong third quarter for jobs: North Dakota, Delaware, Minnesota, Alaska and Idaho.

Diverse industry

Becca Dernberger, vice president and general manager for the northeast division at Manpower, said there’s an uptick in business apparent across the nation, and the positive trend in Michigan reflects all of the hard work accomplished after the recession.

“I think Michigan has done a fantastic job pulling themselves out of the recession and re-branding themselves and re-marketing themselves,” Dernberger said.

Dernberger said the first-place ranking for the Grand Rapids market is symbolic of the collaborative effort and work of many organizations in the area aligning with business needs in the community, resulting in a viable city and community.

Attributing the metro area’s success to a diverse manufacturing base, attractive business climate and engagement in a strong workforce, Dernberger said the market’s employment outlook is the result of multiple grassroots efforts to be a sustainable community, rather than the work of one company or a single project.

“West Michigan has a lot of companies that do get busy in the third quarter, so part of that is reflected in these results, but when I look at those companies that are picking up, it is across the board,” Dernberger said.

“I think they are very motivated with both their local and state government to support manufacturing and to support job growth. The other thing that Grand Rapids has done really well is really engaging in a strong workforce and making sure that all of those programs and development programs are working, and we are getting a return on that investment.”

Market outlook

The Employment Outlook Survey reports the expectations of hiring between July and September 2014 of more than 18,000 employers in the U.S.

In the Grand Rapids market, 32 percent of employers expect to hire more employees, up from 23 percent the previous quarter. Fifty-nine percent of employers plan to maintain staff levels, and 4 percent anticipate a reduction in staff, which results in a net employment outlook for the area of 28 percent.

In comparison to the market’s third-quarter outlook for last summer, the net employment outlook is up 4 percent from 24 percent.

State outlook

As a state, 29 percent of Michigan employers anticipate increasing staff levels, which is an increase from 22 percent the previous quarter. The net employment outlook for Michigan rose from 19 percent for the second quarter to 26 percent for the third quarter.

For the Midwest region, the seasonally adjusted employment outlook is at 13 percent. Forty percent of employers in the leisure and hospitality industry in the region are anticipating an increase in staff levels, and 27 percent in the construction industry are looking to hire.

National outlook

Nationally, 22 percent of employers expect to increase staff, while four percent anticipate decreasing staff. With 71 percent of employers in the country maintaining current employment levels, the net employment outlook for the nation is at 18 percent. The seasonally adjusted outlook for the nation is at 14 percent, which is up slightly from the second quarter’s adjusted result of 13 percent.

Manpower said several industries have strong job outlooks: construction, manufacturing, transportation, utilities, wholesale and retail trade, leisure and hospitality, finance, education and health care.

“I think the steady growth will continue,” Dernberger said. “We can be a leading indicator when companies use us when they start ramping up and that has been going on for quite some time. The other side of Manpower is the permanent placement, which to me, is the true sign of whether the economy is picking up. I don’t think this is just a bubble or a spike.”

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