Dale Sprague Jr., Manpower's branch manager in Whatcom, Skagit and Island counties, noted that while it is still extremely challenging to find a job right now, he is encouraged by the conversations they've had with employers, particularly manufacturers.
There are more conversations about potential big orders, but those companies aren't ready to commit to hiring until they get the contracts signed.
There have also been small bursts of activity, leading some of Manpower's
clients to temporarily hire people for a week or two.
"There is definitely an improvement of the talk on the company level," said Sprague
, noting that earlier this year the tone of conversation was much more pessimistic, focusing on how to cut back.
Of course contracts may not get signed, leading to no new hires, but this change of attitude is following the typical route to recovery, Sprague
Temporary workers are generally the first workers laid off when a recession starts, followed by those with permanent positions.
During that period, employers are in a frame of mind that they must make cuts where they can.
The next step is usually a period where the company sees improved profit margins and the remaining workers get busier as orders start to increase.
During this period, which Sprague
thinks we're in now, company management has to decide whether it's now prudent to start committing to more workers.
They'll start by hiring part-time help to get them through some busy periods.
Once they feel confident that the company is heading in the right direction, they'll start hiring for permanent positions.
This is something Manpower
appears to be preparing for.
said they've seen enough signs of improvement that they are opening a branch office in Burlington in January.
said it has been tough waiting for that next step that leads to hiring.
office continues to see a wide range of people looking for work, from those without skills to people who have advanced degrees.
They also have seen more people lately who have relocated to Bellingham from somewhere else, just hoping to find something to get them started.
"What we are seeing is slow, incremental change.
It is still very difficult as employers remain cautions.
They are waiting to see sustained growth before committing to the expense of hiring," Sprague