Companies cautious on short-term hiring, but overall outlook stays upbeat

Indian employers are going cautious on short-term hiring for the upcoming July-September quarter, a new survey showed even as overall outlook remains positive.The net employment outlook in India for the next quarter is 30%, six percentage points lower than both the current quarter and July-September 2023, according to the latest ManpowerGroup Employment Outlook Survey shared exclusively with ET.
About 48% of 3,150 Indian employers who were asked about their hiring plans for the September quarter said they would hire more people, while 18% expected a decrease in hiring intent or had no plans to backfill. 32% reported no change and 2% were unsure.

This puts the net employment outlook – the difference between companies looking to hire and those expecting a fall in headcount or hiring numbers – at 30%.

The most optimistic outlooks in India are reported by employers in finance and real estate (39%) and healthcare and life sciences (36%). IT comes in third place with a net employment outlook of 35%. The least optimistic outlooks for the September quarter are in communication services (17%) and transport, logistics and automotive (17%).

Besides the global slowdown impacting the IT sector, political uncertainty due to the just-concluded general elections during the survey’s data collection showed employers being cautious in short-term resource planning, said Sandeep Gulati, MD, ManpowerGroup India and Middle East.

Economists said the impact on hiring is likely to be short term and that a pick-up may not be far away.

“Political uncertainty may have led to an abeyance in some projects in the short term, which may pick up over the coming quarters,” said Teresa John, economist and deputy head of research at Nirmal Bang Institutional Equities.

In corporate hiring sentiment, India has slipped to sixth, jointly with the US, across the 42 countries covered in the global survey. India Inc’s hiring sentiment was the highest globally for the April-June quarter. However, India still reports the strongest outlook in Asia Pacific and is eight percentage points above the global average of 22%.

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