Jobs Outlook? Depends on Who Asked

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Figures released recently by employment agency, Manpower, indicated an upbeat projection for hiring in 2004. The company surveys area businesses every three months about reductions or increases in hiring.

Manpower said 27 percent of the companies interviewed planned to hire more employees after the first of the year. Seventeen percent intend to reduce their workforce and 56 percent plan to maintain their present level.

"I think the market is really looking up. I think Meridian has a great opportunity. We all need to work together to help our economy grow in whatever way we can and that includes being a great employee and being a good employer as well," said Karon Leach.

A spokesman for the Mississippi Employment Security Commission, now known as WIN Job Center, said Tuesday a hiring increase is normal and after the holidays.

According to statistics, the state office normally has 55 to 65 companies listing job opportunities per month. In December that figure drops, this year to only 36. After Jan. 1, officials say it is expected to rebound to a normal level.

"To those who think there's going to be a huge increase in employment after the first of the year, I'd say that probably is an exercise in wishful thinking to say the least," said Hartley Peavey, CEO of Peavey Electronics, headquartered in Meridian.

Peavey said there's more competition in the marketplace now than ever.

The East Mississippi Business Development Corporation continues to express hope about the possible influence of a new industrial park when completed, but says at this time it has no new job announcements to make.