Connecticut employers expect a modest increase in hiring in the first quarter of 2021, according to a new survey.

The ManpowerGroup Q1 Employment Outlook Survey found that 18% of Connecticut employers plan to hire more workers from January through March but that 7% plan to cut payroll—an 11% net employment outlook.

First quarter net hiring outlook by industry for the Northeast states. Source: Manpower Group Q1 Employment Outlook Survey.

Two-thirds of Connecticut employers (67%) expect to maintain current staffing levels in the first quarter of 2021 while 8% of survey respondents indicate they are unsure of their hiring plans.

“Compared to Q4 2020 when the net employment outlook was 6%, Connecticut employers have reported a stronger hiring pace,” said Betty Gooding of Manpower.

“When looking at year-over-year expectations, hiring intentions have slowed down from when the outlook was 15%.”

That 15% expectation for the 2020 first quarter was pre-pandemic.

Greater Hartford

Statewide, employers in the Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford corridor are the most optimistic about hiring in the first quarter, with an overall 18% employment outlook, placing the region among the nation’s top 30.

Among surveyed Hartford-area employers, 23% plan to hire more employees while 5% plan to reduce payroll.

Greater Hartford employers report a stronger hiring pace than the fourth quarter of 2020.

Slightly more than two-thirds of employers in the Hartford region (68%) expect no staffing changes while 4% are unsure of their hiring plans.

“Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford employers have reported a stronger hiring pace” compared to the fourth quarter of 2020, when the net employment outlook was 14%, Gooding said.

“Hiring intentions have picked up,” she noted.

Fairfield County, New Haven

Hiring expectations are lower in the Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk metropolitan area with an overall employment outlook of 6%, slightly higher than the 5% in the New Haven-Milford area.

Some 12% of employers in the Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk region plan to hire more workers in the first quarter but 6% plan to reduce payroll.

Seven of 10 employers in the region will maintain current staffing levels in the first three months of 2021 while 12% are unsure of their plans.

The Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk outlook is far better than in the last quarter of 2020.

Gooding said the Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk region’s outlook for the first quarter is far better than the net outlook of 1% in the last quarter of 2020.

In the New Haven-Milford area, 15% of employers surveyed plan to increase hiring in the first quarter but 10% plan to cut payroll, for a 5% net outlook.

While 63% of employers plan no first quarter hiring, 12% indicated they are unsure.

Gooding noted the New Haven region’s employment outlook in the fourth quarter of 2020 was minus 3%, indicating a “stronger hiring pace” for the upcoming quarter.

New England

Vermont leads New England and the nation with 56% of surveyed employers saying they expect to bring on new staff in the first three months of the year with 0% planning reductions.

Maine has a net employment outlook of 25%, followed by Rhode Island (19%), New Hampshire (16%), Connecticut, and Massachusetts (10%).

Nationwide, 21% of businesses expect to make new hires in the first quarter.

Only 14% of New York employers are optimistic about hiring new employees in the first quarter, while in New Jersey optimism is slightly higher at 20%.

Nationwide, 21% of businesses expect to make new hires in the first quarter, 6% anticipate cutting payroll, 68% expect no change, and 5% are unsure.

The 6,700 employers surveyed nationwide said employee health and wellbeing at 55%, development of leaders/managers (22%), and upskilling, learning, and development (20%) have all risen in importance due to the pandemic.

Industry Sectors

Nationally, employers in 12 industry sectors expect to increase staffing in the 2021 first quarter including:

  • Leisure and hospitality, 26%
  • Transportation and utilities, 22%
  • Wholesale and retail trade, 20%
  • Nondurable goods manufacturing, 19%
  • Construction, 17%
  • Professional and business services, 17%
  • Education and health services, 14%
  • Financial activities, 14%,
  • Durable goods manufacturing, 14%
  • Government, 10%
  • Information, 9%
  • Other services, 9%