NEW YORK (Reuters) - Europe's debt crisis is leading to weaker job prospects in most major economies, including China, as Europe's debt crisis adds to employers' uncertainty, but the U.S. labor picture has brightened, according to a quarterly survey by ManpowerGroup (MAN.N).
The global staffing services company said job seekers in 30 of 41 countries and territories can expect a slower pace of hiring in the first quarter than in the fourth. The hiring outlook is also weaker year-over-year in 23 countries and territories.
"Debt issues in Europe continue to create uncertainty," Manpower Chief Executive Jeff Joerres said, adding that hiring plans in China have slowed in part because Europe is China's biggest export market.
The hiring outlook dipped from the fourth quarter in nearly every European economy Manpower polls, with a few exceptions including Italy and the Netherlands. In Spain and Greece, the net employment outlook is negative, meaning more employers expect to cut jobs than to add them.
Job prospects in France and Germany softened from the fourth quarter, but remain positive, Manpower's survey of 65,000 hiring managers found. The German finance and business services sectors report the strongest demand for staff in that economy.
India and Japan were the only Asian economies where hiring prospects are expected to improve next quarter. Japan's mining and construction sectors show the strongest outlook as the country recovers from a devastating March earthquake.
Chinese employers, by contrast, are the least optimistic in two years, both because of softer export markets and because of government efforts to cool the economy. Their counterparts in Singapore, Taiwan and Singapore are less optimistic both year-over-year and quarter-on-quarter.
Milwaukee-based Manpower does business in more than 80 countries and territories and generates most of its sales and profit outside the United States. Its quarterly survey is considered a leading indicator of labor market trends, used by economists, the European Commission and the Bank of England.
All three countries in North America reported stronger jobs outlooks compared with the fourth quarter.
The seasonally-adjusted U.S. net employment outlook -- which measures the difference between employers who say they expect to add jobs and those planning to cut them -- was plus-9, up from plus-7 in the fourth quarter and plus-8 a year ago.
The U.S. leisure and hospitality sector expects to add workers. Construction employers, however, expect lower employment levels for the third consecutive quarter.
Manpower's U.S. survey dates back to 1962 and is based on interviews with 18,000 employers. It is considered a leading indicator of labor market trends.
The survey follows a U.S. government report that showed 120,000 jobs added outside the farm sector in November and the U.S. unemployment rate unexpectedly dropping to 8.6 percent. Jobless claims at the lowest level in nine months also provided evidence the U.S. labor market was gradually on the mend.
Reporting By Nick Zieminski in New York-