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Fargo area job market 4th in U.S.

FARGO - The job market in the Fargo area is the fourth-strongest in the nation, according to a third-quarter 2008 employment survey released today by Manpower Inc., an international employment services company.

In the July through September survey, 53 percent of Fargo area companies interviewed plan to hire more employees, 3 percent expect to reduce payrolls and 44 percent expect to maintain current staffing levels, said Lora Schilz of Manpower's Fargo office, 300 45th St. S.

"That would be consistent with what Fargo-Moorhead's unemployment rate is," said Michael Ziesch of North Dakota Job Service in Bismarck.

In April, the Fargo-Moorhead unemployment rate was 3.1 percent, slightly lower than the 3.3 percent state unemployment rate and considerably better than the 4.8 percent national unemployment rate, he said.

Fargo-area hiring activity is expected to be significantly stronger than one year ago, when 33 percent of companies surveyed planned to add staff and 7 percent said they would cut payrolls, Schilz said.

"Employer sentiment about hiring appears to be slightly more encouraging than in the second quarter of 2008 when 47 percent of companies interviewed intended to add employees and none planned to reduce staff levels," she said. Today's statistics are consistent with other economic data for Fargo, said Brian Walters, president of the Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corp.

"Our present economy is very strong and well-diversified," Walters said. "We've had nice, steady employment growth the last six years."

One reason for Fargo's high employment ranking may be employment declines in other parts of the country, he said.

"We're on pace. The national economy is going the other way," Walters said.

Nationally, employers project a slight decline in third-quarter hiring.

Of 14,000 employers surveyed, 26 percent plan to increase staff and 10 percent expect to reduce staff, the report says.