The Best And Worst Cities For Jobs This Summer

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Employers in all 50 states expect the bleak employment picture to perk up during the three-month period ending in September. In fact, hiring managers in dozens of metropolitan areas anticipate considerable increases in hiring, while others present a darker forecast.

The employment services firm ManpowerGroup has surveyed more than 18,000 employers in 100 metropolitan areas to find out who's hiring, who's firing and who plans to maintain their current staff levels in the third quarter of 2011, July through September. Of the surveyed employers, 20% anticipate an increase in staffing levels in their second quarter hiring plans, while 8% expect a decrease in payrolls. The difference between those numbers gives you what ManpowerGroup calls a net employment outlook of 12%–or 8% when seasonally adjusted, which is still up from 6% for the same period last year. Sixty-nine percent of employers expect no change in their staffing, and the final 3% of employers are uncertain.

The survey reveals that the metropolitan area with the most optimistic forecast of all for hiring this summer is Grand Rapids-Wyoming, Michigan.

In Pictures: The Best Cities For Jobs This Summer

"This is the strongest outlook we've seen in the Grand Rapids-Wyoming market in almost three years," says Melanie Holmes, a vice president at ManpowerGroup. "The market results are considerably more optimistic than last quarter and one year ago. Among our clients, we've seen real strength among manufacturing employers as well as a demand for clerical and customer service support."

The Grand Rapids-Wyoming region enjoys a 24% net employment outlook, the percentage of employers that expect to add employees (30%) minus the percentage that expect to reduce their workforce (6%). Another 61% said they anticipate no change, and 3% didn't know.

"This does not come as a surprise," says Kevin Stotts, vice president of community programs at the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce. "The employers I have spoke with, either large or small, have been very optimistic over the past several months. In fact, a persistent challenge with many employers in the area has been finding qualified talent to meet their needs. While specific sectors may not have rebounded as quickly, most are doing better than 2010, which was a strong year."

Some of the region's biggest employers include Spetrum Health, Amway, Steelcase, Haworth, Herman Miller, Saint Mary's Health Care and Bissell.

"The area also has one of the largest concentrations of family owned businesses in the country with a strong emphasis on innovation and entrepreneurship," Stotts adds.

So why is the region's hiring outlook so strong this summer?

"Employers across the board shed jobs during the recession and are now hiring again," Stotts says. "In general, West Michigan's economy has diversified over the past decade. As a result, it has outperformed other parts of Michigan and the nation in the recovery. I know of many companies that are having great years, particularly in information technology, health care and advanced manufacturing."

Employers in Asheville, San Antonio and Lancaster also anticipate a significant upswing in hiring for the next quarter.

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