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Fewer employers aiming to hire staff

JUST over a third of employers in China, or 34 percent, plan to increase staff numbers in the first quarter, 10 percent fewer than last quarter.

However, the figure remains the highest in Asia, according to a report released yesterday, and many respondents remain optimistic about their company's performance in 2009, with 47 percent saying it would be "excellent" or "good."

The Hudson Report surveyed the expectations of almost 3,000 key executives from multinational organization in all major industry sectors in Asia, with 858 of them based in China.

The steepest decline in hiring expectation was in the banking and financial services sector, from 50 percent last quarter to 29 percent this quarter.

The media, pubic relations and advertising sector also reported falling hiring expectations, from 33 percent last quarter to 18 percent.

Last year some 61 percent of respondents had expected to increase hiring in the first quarter.

The percentage who forecast a head count reduction rose from 1 percent in 2008 to 8 percent this quarter.

The consumer sector was the most optimistic about the future, with 62 percent forecasting excellent or good performance in 2009, while respondents in information technology and telecom were the least confident, with 15 percent believing their company's prospects would be poor this year.

Despite the decline in hiring expectations, almost half of the respondents were willing to pay salary increases of more than 10 percent to attract new people at management level, of which 17 percent of respondents expected pay increases of more than 20 percent, a significantly higher figure than for any other market in Asia, including Japan and Singapore.

Across all sectors, bonuses of more than 10 percent of the employees' yearly salary were forecast by 32 percent of respondents, of which 6 percent said they would pay bonuses of more than 20 percent. Some 12 percent of respondents were not planning to pay a bonus, 6 percent more than in 2008's first quarter.

Angie Eagan, Hudson's Shanghai general manager, said that employers could now pay lower salary increases to attract new managerial hires and were actively recruiting talented candidates displaced by the downturn.


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