US Economy Gains Strength, Study Says

THE United States economy appears to be gradually gaining strength, showing the most improvement in the South but a poor outlook remaining for the West Coast. That is the conclusion of a private employment survey released Sunday.

Manpower Inc., the Milwaukee-based temporary employment agency, said that its survey of more than 15,000 US businesses found that 17 percent plan to increase their work force in the first quarter of 1993 and 13 percent plan staff reductions.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, the hiring plans show more strength than in either the first or last quarter of 1992.

"We see no dip that would signal a couple of quarters that will be going down," Manpower president Mitchell Fromstein says.

"I think the outlook is cautious but it certainly has to be looked at as optimistic," he adds.

The percentage of employers planning work force cuts matches levels seen in the high-growth period of 1984-90 and is well below the first quarter levels in 1991 and 1992, Manpower said.

The survey showed cyclical strength despite an expected seasonal jobs decline.

Employment usually falls in the first quarter after a flurry of temporary hiring for the Christmas shopping season.

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