Hurricane Katrina's aftermath will have an isolated effect on the upbeat hiring prospects of U.S. employers, with nearly a third expecting to add to their payrolls in the fourth quarter, a global staffing company said.
The quarterly survey of 16,000 employers was taken before Aug. 29 when the hurricane struck New Orleans, but polling of fewer than 200 companies afterward found they expected little impact on their plans, Milwaukee-based Manpower Inc. said Monday.
"I think it will be very isolated to that area," said Jeffrey Joerres, Manpower chief executive officer and chairman. "In talking to customers and talking to companies, it's an immense tragedy, but when they look at their own hiring pattern, they don't see it as having much effect yet."
Strains such as high oil prices and port closures are easing and some companies have already rerouted their goods traffic around the damage, he said.
The survey found that 29 percent of companies polled expect to add jobs in the fourth quarter, while 8 percent plan to reduce staff. Some 57 percent expect not to change their staffing levels, while 6 percent are unsure of their plans.
The survey was hardly changed from the previous quarter, when 31 percent expected to add jobs, 6 percent expected to reduce them, 57 percent expected no change and 6 percent were unsure.
Wachovia senior economist Mark Vitner said uncertainties surrounding Katrina's impact were fading.
The 400,000 lost jobs forecast by the Congressional Budget Office last week may also prove to be too high, Vitner said.
"Lots of the activity that had been taking place in New Orleans is now taking place in Houston or Dallas or Atlanta, Birmingham or Baton Rouge," Vitner said. "Folks are still working.
"Now that we've gotten past some of the initial uncertainty, things aren't as dire as they first appeared to be," he said.