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U.S. firms keep showing strong demand for workers

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NEW YORK — American companies continue to show strong demand for workers going into the final quarter of the year, according to a closely watched quarterly survey released Monday.

Thirty-two percent of the nearly 16,000 companies surveyed by Manpower Inc., a major staffing agency, said they planned to add staff in the final three months of the year — the strongest year-end level seen in the 25 years Manpower has been taking its survey. The survey for the third quarter was also the highest mark set for that time period.

Of the companies surveyed, only 7 percent said they plan staff decreases, 57 percent anticipate no change and 4 percent are uncertain. "While the end of the (worker) shortage is nowhere in sight, companies are gradually finding methods of dealing with the problem," Joerres said. "They are building the solutions they need."

Among industries, the wholesale and retail sector showed particularly strong demand for workers ahead of the holiday season. But manufacturing companies were also short of workers, with 32 percent of durable goods makers saying they needed more staff — the highest year-end level since 1978.

Manpower has conducted quarterly employment surveys for 25 years. The margin of error in the telephone survey, which includes companies in 485 cities, is plus or minus 2 percentage points.