About 16 percent of companies plan to hire more people in the first quarter of 2020, but the number is slightly lower than the previous quarter, according to the results of the latest Business Expectations Survey conducted by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.
The employment outlook for the first quarter of 2020 and the next 12 months remain positive, results of the fourth-quarter survey showed.
The employment index in the first quarter and the next 12 months stood at 16.6 percent and 34.5 percent, respectively, lower than the third-quarter survey results of 19.6 percent and 35.8 percent, respectively.
“This suggests that more firms will continue to hire new employees, although the number that said so are lower compared to the third-quarter 2019 survey results,” the BSP said.
“The decline in the employment outlook index for both periods stemmed from the moderation of employment prospects in the industry and wholesale and retail trade sectors,” it said.
The percentage of businesses with expansion plans for the first quarter 2020 was also lower at 29.2 percent from the third-quarter survey results at 30.4 percent, but higher for the next 12 months at 38.1 percent from the Q3 survey results at 37.9 percent.
The average capacity utilization in the industry and construction sectors for the fourth quarter was lower at 75.1 percent from 76.1 percent in the third quarter 2019.
Meanwhile, the outlook of firms about their own business operations improved for the fourth quarter compared to their sentiment in the third quarter. The sentiment of firms on the volume of business
activity and volume of total orders booked was more upbeat across sectors, except for the industry sector which was less buoyant.
For the first quarter 2020, the outlook on volume of business activity was less upbeat across sectors, except for the construction sector.
The respondent firms’ outlook on volume of business activity for the next 12 months was broadly steady. The sentiment of the industry and construction firms on the volume of business activity was steady while firms from the trade and services sectors were more optimistic.
The survey showed that the sentiment on financial conditions of respondent firms improved but the confidence index remained in the negative territory at -5.4 percent for the fourth quarter compared to -7 percent a quarter ago.
“This means that firms that expected tight financial conditions outnumbered those that said otherwise during the quarter, but the number that said so declined compared to the third quarter,” the BSP said.
Respondents believe that their financing requirements could be met through available credit as more of them reported ease of access to credit.
The fourth-quarter survey was conducted from Oct. 3 to Nov. 25, 2019, involving 1,477 firms nationwide.