The Manpower Employment Outlook Survey states that employers in 25 of the 33 countries and territories still expect positive hiring activity in the coming quarter; however, those in 30 say they would slow the pace of hiring from three months ago.
"The global employment picture for the first quarter of the new year is noticeably weaker and the vast majority of employers are telling us that they will take a 'wait and see' approach before hiring or further reducing staff," Manpower Inc CEO Jeffrey A Joerres said.
Year-over-year hiring forecasts are also weaker in 25 countries and territories; and employers in 21 countries and territories are reporting the weakest hiring plans, Manpower Inc said.
"Unless they see more positive economic signals they will not add employees and, until then, it will be a rougher road for job seekers," Joerres added.
The Manpower survey of over 71,000 employers revealed that employers with the most active first-quarter hiring plans globally "despite generally weaker hiring patterns" are reported in Peru, India, Costa Rica, Canada, Romania, Colombia, South Africa, Australia, Poland, the United States and China.
On the other hand, employers in Singapore, Ireland, Spain and Italy reported the least optimistic hiring forecasts. Only employers in Canada, the United States and Switzerland are reporting improved employment outlooks from three months ago.
Job prospects are decidedly less optimistic in the Asia Pacific region, with employers in all eight countries and territories surveyed reporting weaker hiring plans compared to the previous quarter and one year ago.
"Employers in the Asia Pacific region, who last quarter were only starting to feel the impact of the downturn in the West, appear to be preparing themselves for a very difficult year," Joerres added.
Although they are weaker quarter-over-quarter, the most favourable job prospects in the region are still found in India, Australia and China. The slowest hiring activity is expected in Singapore and Taiwan, where negative hiring expectations are reported.
The survey data reveals varying degrees of positive hiring activity throughout the Americas region, though at a slower pace than three months ago.
Hiring is expected to be strongest in Peru, Costa Rica, Canada and the United States with Canadian and American employers reporting slight improvements over the last quarter.
Meanwhile, first-quarter hiring sentiments are weakest in Argentina, Guatemala and Mexico.
"The strong forecast from Canadian employers is being bolstered by continued demand in the services, transportation and construction sectors. In the US, 67 per cent of employers, are saying they will make no change to their workforces which is contributing to the relatively stable outlook there.
Of the 17 countries surveyed in the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region, employers in 11 are expecting positive hiring activity.
Employers in Romania, South Africa, Poland, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Belgium are reporting the most bullish hiring plans while Irish, Italian and Spanish employers have least optimistic hiring outlook.