‘More businesses plan to expand but hire less’


MORE companies plan to expand in the first quarter of 2017, but many of them will hire less workers as the business outlook for January to March turned out to be less positive than in the recent quarters, based on the latest central bank Business Expectation Survey (BES).

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said companies with expansion plans increased to 31.7 percent of the 1,470 respondents in the latest survey, from 28.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2016. The survey was done from October 3 to November 17.

Despite the rise in overall expansion plans, however, the employment outlook for the first quarter of 2017 showed a decline to 19 percent from 23.6 percent.

Companies in retail trade and services were less optimistic, while industrial companies were broadly steady, and those in the construction sector were more bullish in hiring.

The employment outlook is consistent with the less optimistic business sentiment for the quarter ahead, which fell to 39.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2016 from 45.4 percent in the third quarter.

The BSP noted the seasonal uptick in demand was outweighed by concerns about the direction of foreign policies and economic reforms in the country, a weakening global demand, foreign exchange losses due to peso depreciation, and lack of supply of raw materials.

The BES is a quarterly survey of companies drawn at random from the Securities and Exchange Commission’s top 7,000 corporations ranked in 2010 and Business World’s Top 1,000 Corporations in 2014.


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