* U.S. Q4 employment outlook weakens
* Hiring expectations improve in 20 of 34 countries
* Asia, Europe likely to recover first - Manpower CEO (Recasts lead, paragraphs 1-2, 7-8)
By Nick Zieminski
NEW YORK, Sept 8 (Reuters) - U.S. employers plan to hire fewer workers in the last three months of 2009 than in the current quarter, according to a survey of 28,000 companies, dealing a blow to hopes for a consumer-led economic recovery.
The view outside the United States is less bleak, however, with hiring likely to recover more quickly in Europe and Asia, according to Manpower Inc’s (MAN.N) quarterly employer survey.
The global employment services company said its seasonally adjusted U.S. net employment outlook slipped to minus-3 for the fourth quarter, from minus-2 in the prior quarter.
The index measures the difference between those who plan to add to their workforce and those who expect to cut staff.
A year ago, it stood at plus-9.
"Companies are still not going to be in hiring mode," Manpower Chief Executive Jeff Joerres said in a statement. "They are in cautious mode."
A mark of that caution is that two-thirds of U.S. employers plan no change to staffing, a higher proportion than is typical, he said.
Employers in the education and health services sector were more positive about job prospects than they were in the prior quarter, and the outlook for mining was unchanged.
With those two exceptions, employers in the remaining 11 sectors surveyed had become more guarded in their hiring plans, the survey report said.
The sharpest declines were in construction, leisure and hospitality, and professional and business services.
The survey was released just days after a government report showed that the jobless rate rose to a 26-year high of 9.7 percent in August even as the pace of job losses slowed.
Manpower’s U.S. survey dates back to 1962 and is considered a leading indicator of labor trends.
The Milwaukee-based company does business in 80 countries and generates most sales and earnings outside the United States.
EUROPE, ASIA SEEN LEADING
Manpower’s international survey of 72,000 employers found improved hiring expectations in 20 of 34 countries and territories versus the prior quarter, though nearly all reported weaker hiring intentions compared with a year ago.
In 15 countries and territories, the number of employers cutting jobs outweighed those planning to add jobs.
Prospects improved in several Latin American countries, were stronger or stable in much of Asia and Western Europe, but weaker in Eastern European countries.
In Mexico, as in the United States, hiring plans are the weakest in the survey’s history.
Optimism rose in Canada, reflecting better prospects in construction, finance and real estate.
Indian employers are the most optimistic in Asia, while hiring intentions also improved in China, Hong Kong and Singapore. The employment outlook was flat in Japan.
Manpower’s survey, together with recent labor market and industrial output data, suggest Asia and Europe will emerge from recession before any U.S. recovery.
Joerres said consumers in Asia and Europe did not need to curtail spending to the same extent as Americans.
"You look at major countries like the UK, Italy, France, Germany, Sweden, they’re all up," Joerres said. "Their economies haven’t had the same hits. Other than Spain, you didn’t have a housing market as bad as this."
In Britain, a housing bust hurt the London area, but hiring plans are stronger in the Midlands, he said.
However, an Asian or European recovery could prove short-lived, because many economies still rely on exports, particularly to the United States.
"They can come out, but they can’t sustain the coming out until the U.S. starts spending," Joerres said.
For example, Vietnam, where 30 percent of exports are U.S.-bound, is unlikely to see a fast, V-shaped jobs recovery.
"You’re not going to get the total V until that 30 percent starts buying," he said. (Additional reporting by Scott Malone in Boston; Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Ted Kerr)