Asian companies cool down on hiring

Employers in Asia do not think a recession is coming yet, but their hiring expectations are dropping, according to a Hudson survey.

Most employers across four Asian economies do not believe a recession is imminent, but they are reducing their hiring activities in the second quarter of 2008, according to new survey findings released Thursday.

The quarterly Hudson Report for Asia determined that hiring expectations in Japan and China were likely to see a steep fall this quarter, Hiring sentiments were stable in Hong Kong but fell slightly in Singapore.

Recruitment agency Hudson surveyed the expectations of over 2,600 key employment decision makers from multinational organizations in China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan.

Japan reported 55 percent of respondents were expecting to hire more staff in the second quarter, compared with 66 percent the previous quarter. In China, 52 percent of respondents forecast headcount growth this quarter, down from 61 percent in the first quarter.

Hiring expectations were steady in Hong Kong, where 57 percent planned to increase headcount, a slight fall from 58 percent in the first quarter. In Singapore, hiring expectations have fallen slightly to 49 percent this quarter, down from 51 percent the previous.

While most respondents did not believe a recession was imminent, there were large variations in the levels of optimism.

Only 14 percent of respondents in China expected a recession in the next six months, compared to Japan which, at 41 percent, had the highest proportion of respondents. In Hong Kong, only 20 percent of respondents believed a recession was imminent, while in Singapore, 26 percent forecast a recession.

But while Japanese had the most respondents who believed a recession was pending, at 31 percent, it had the smallest proportion who said a recession would affect their hiring plans.

At 58 percent, Singapore had the highest number of respondents who said a recession would impact their hiring activities. Some 40 percent of respondents each in China and Hong Kong said likewise.