More than 25 per cent of all the employers canvassed expect to expand worker numbers between now and Christmas.
Another 13 per cent of respondents forecast that they would have to lay off employees in the final quarter - but the net positive figure of 14 per cent is the highest fourth- quarter result since 1990 and twice the level recorded in the last three months of 1993. It also continues a strong trend set ahead of the third quarter.
In June, the Manpower survey found net positive expectations of 15 per cent.
Employers in the home counties are most optimistic, with net positive expectations of 20 per cent.
In the North-west, one in three bosses predict that they will take on people in the run- up to Christmas. However, the North-west's net score was reduced to 17 per cent by an above-average count of pessimists.
Manpower found net optimism in every region of England, Wales and Scotland.
However, in Scotland and the North-east of England employers appear more cautious than at this time last year.
The Manpower questionnaire asks bosses about employment expectations, not jobs actually created or lost. However, during the past nine years the Manpower survey has anticipated trends in changes in official unemployment statisitics.
Service sector employers are most optimistic about jobs, overtaking manufacturers in the latest survey, with 35 per cent of service industry bosses envisage creating new jobs and 13 per cent forecasting reductions. A net optimistic score of 22 per cent for the service sector compares with a positive 13 per cent among manufacturers.
Of all sector segments retailers are most positive. The worst prospects are in the public sector. Healthcare employers is the only grouping to predict a net fall in jobs.
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