Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Confident companies hiring staff

Unemployment figures could drop in the next three months as one in four firms plan to hire new staff, according to Ibec

A quarter of employers are planning to hire new staff in the next three months, it has emerged.

Ibec, the group that represents Irish business, said firms are well-positioned to withstand global economic downturn after winning new customers to export to.

Its latest business sentiment report reveals a substantial increase in companies' employment outlook over the last year.

Fergal O'Brien, Ibec chief economist, said: "Economic conditions across Europe have been hit by a crisis of confidence in recent months but for now it does not appear that this has severely impacted on Irish companies.

"The majority of Irish businesses remain confident about both their current business performance and the three-month outlook despite extreme market turmoil of recent months."

The quarterly report is based on a survey of manufacturing and services firms from over 400 Ibec member companies. It found almost a quarter plan to increase staff numbers in the next three months, with companies reporting winning new customers in new and existing markets.

Sectors with high concentrations of multinational firms view the overall business environment more positively than those sectors where indigenous firms dominate.

And firms in medical devices and hospitality have the most positive outlooks for their own businesses, while retailers have the most negative outlook.

Mr O'Brien added: "One of the most positive features of the latest confidence report is that the customer base balance has improved sharply.

"This suggests that much of the improvement in Ireland's export performance is due to Irish businesses winning new customers and growing market share. This augurs well for Ireland's ability to withstand the current global economic slowdown."

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