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ManpowerGroup survey suggests hiring slowdown expected in Puerto Rico

The latest ManpowerGroup’s Manpower Employment Outlook Survey (MEOS) indicates a downturn in hiring intentions for Puerto Rico’s second quarter, yet reveals positive trends in employer attitudes toward inclusion, diversity, flexibility and technology.

Melissa Rivera-Roena, general manager for ManpowerGroup in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, noted a net employment outlook of 14% for April to June, which is down 12 percentage points from the previous quarter and 19 points year-over-year. 

“The survey reflects a significant decrease in hiring intentions by employers, placing Puerto Rico in 26th place globally, even though in previous quarters it had positioned itself among the top 10 countries in the world,” she said. “It is necessary to closely examine what the survey reflects and how hiring behavior will turn out at the end of the second quarter of the year.”

Despite this, the spokesperson said, 31% of employers plan to expand their teams, 47% will maintain current staff levels, 17% anticipate cuts and 5% are uncertain about changes for the quarter.

Alberto Alesi, director of ManpowerGroup for Mexico and Central America, said, “Only six sectors predict positive hiring intentions, and the most competitive sector in Puerto Rico is the communication services (telecommunications) sector with a perspective of 47%, decreasing by 27 percentage points compared to the previous quarter and 23 points compared to the same date last year.”

The financial and real estate sectors reported a 36% hiring intention, followed by transportation, logistics and automotive (31%), energy (24%), and consumer goods and services (14%).

Medium-sized companies (50-249 employees) reflect the highest growth in expectations at 36%, despite a 33 percentage point drop compared to the first quarter. Larger companies with 1,000 to 4,999 employees show a 34% hiring intention.

Geographically, northern Puerto Rico is expected to be the most active labor market at 27%, with the south, central and eastern regions obtaining 16% each; the west 15%; and the metropolitan region 8%.

Mónica Flores, president for Latin America at ManpowerGroup, said Costa Rica (32%), Mexico (27%) and Guatemala (26%) have the strongest outlooks in Latin America for the second quarter of 2024, while Argentina (1%), Chile (10%) and Panama (15%) are the lowest. Construction and transportation, logistics and automotive are the leading sectors in the region.

Favorable labor trends

Rivera-Roena also highlighted favorable findings on inclusion, diversity, flexibility and technology, with 54% of employers confident in meeting gender equity goals.

Additionally, 58% reported that their efforts to increase the number of women in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers are progressing well, with 55% achieving similar success in middle and administrative management positions, 54% in high-level executive roles, 53% in technical, professional and operational jobs and 52% among frontline staff.

“For International Women’s Month, it is important to highlight that for employers in Puerto Rico, technology plays a key role in closing the gender gap in the workplace, and they have begun to see more openness to diversity in technology positions,” Rivera-Roena said.

Sixty-nine percent of employers replied that technology has allowed them to be more flexible, helping them promote gender equity, with 62% observing greater gender diversity in candidates.

Regarding diversity, employers have found internal leadership development programs effective for retaining and attracting a varied workforce. Thirty-five percent of businesses reported that such programs have aided in retaining talent and diversifying their candidate pool. Thirty-four percent noted that flexible work policies have yielded benefits, 31% are fostering a more inclusive corporate culture, and 30% are implementing mentoring and coaching initiatives.

The survey indicated that trust and well-being are viewed as the most impactful factors in the success of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) programs.

Meanwhile, 39% of respondents said their organizations actively support employee well-being, while 38% focus on cultivating trusting relationships and upskilling managers for better oversight of remote or flexible work arrangements.

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