THE NUMBER OF firms who plan to increase their staff numbers has almost doubled since last year, according to a new study.
The latest report from employers’ group IBEC shows 21 per cent believe they will hire new workers in the next three months – nearly twice the figure for this quarter last year. The improvement was mirrored in a separate study from the Small Firms Association, which found that 15 per cent of respondents plan to hire new permanent staff while only three per cent said they would be laying people off.
In 2009, the number of small firms planning layoffs stood at 22 per cent.
The IBEC study, which covers the second quarter of 2011, also shows positive indications in a number of other areas. Companies’ confidence in the overall business environment continued to improve, with the figure now at minus 17 per cent – up from minus 32 in the last quarter of 2010. And export sales remain strong, despite a slight decline since the first three months of 2011 – which was matched by a five per cent dip in domestic sales.
Fergal O’Brien, chief economist at IBEC, said: “If we are to really tackle the unemployment problem, domestic demand must improve. Government must communicate better with consumers in relation to the nature and scale of the economic challenges.”
There was also bad news for the financial sector as it emerged AIB is still pushing to cut around 2,000 posts. The bank’s proposals have been referred to the Labour Relations Committee after talks with unions – who were seeking assurances that all redundancies would be voluntary – broke down last week, the Irish Times reports.