ManpowerGroup CEO: Clients still looking to acquire skilled labor despite uncertainty

Jonas Prising, chairman and chief executive officer of ManpowerGroup.

Labor markets remain strong and healthy and companies are still looking to acquire skilled talent despite growing global economic uncertainty, ManpowerGroup chairman and chief executive officer Jonas Prising said this week.

Prising told analysts on Milwaukee-based ManpowerGroup’s earnings call that the firm has seen no change in client behavior when it comes to hiring skilled workers, although he acknowledged there is some weakness in areas like automotive, construction and logistics that have been hit by supply chain disruptions.

“What is equally clear is that many of our clients are quite concerned about the economic outlook on the one hand, but when we ask them how they are feeling about their own business, they are saying that they are still working through the pent-up demand from the pandemic, that they are looking for more talent,” Prising said.

Of course, ManpowerGroup’s services, which include both temporary and permanent staffing help for companies, could stand to benefit from the uncertainty as companies look for the flexibility of having temporary staff to allow them to adjust to changing market conditions.

Prising said companies are seeing talent as “immensely important for them as they navigate through this turbulent environment.”

“They’ve worked very hard and are frankly still working very hard at finding the talent they need to execute on their plans,” Prising said, noting clients are likely to remember the difficulties they’ve had in recruiting in a tight labor markets.

Prising said clients are aware of the efforts by central banks globally to bring inflation under control.

“But they are living a reality of a continued strong business environment for them,” he said. “So this is a bit of a time where, it’s all going to be a question of the economy bending, so economic growth, slowing labor markets, maybe cooling off a little bit, but remaining very strong and then coming back to improved growth or economies coming down into a recessionary environment of some kind. And I think that’s what they are debating.”

Most clients are not seeing a drop in demand and are instead dealing with supply chain issues preventing them from producing or delivering services, Prising said.

He acknowledged there are some areas like tech or streaming where there is a bull back in demand, but suggested consumers are trading consumption of retail products against experiences and travel.

“You’re seeing some shifts within but if you then step back, and you look at the overall picture of the labor market, the labor markets are still very, very healthy. And the weaknesses at this point are absorbed by excess demand and strength in other parts of the economy. And that’s certainly true, both for the U.S. and Europe,” Prising said.

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Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He also spent five years covering manufacturing at BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.

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