Firms plan to hire more, expand

Businesses are looking to hire more workers this quarter as more of them also plan to expand their operations, according to a Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) survey.

The recently released Business Expectation Survey put the confidence index (CI) of companies with expansion plans for the second quarter of the year at 20.6 percent, climbing from 16.9 percent in the earlier survey. For the year ahead, however, the CI eased to 27 percent from 28 percent.

“The percentage of firms that expressed expansion plans for the next quarter increased for mining and quarrying and manufacturing subsectors. Meanwhile, fewer respondents in the manufacturing and agriculture, fishery and forestry subsectors indicated expansion plans for the next 12 months,” the central bank said.

The confidence index reflects a company’s assessment of future growth.

The survey also reflected a positive employment outlook index for the second quarter at 5.7 percent from 5.3 percent and for the year ahead, at 11.7 percent from 7.8 percent.

“The positive readings suggest that firms are looking forward to hiring people in Q2 (second quarter) 2021 and the next 12 months,” the BSP said.

The expansion and employment outlook are consistent with the more buoyant business outlook for April to June this year, with the index jumping to 42.8 percent from 37.4 percent.

For the year ahead, firms are also upbeat on the country’s economy, with the CI accelerating to 60.5 percent from 57.7 percent.

Respondents’ upbeat sentiment was attributed to the easing of quarantine restrictions and reopening of businesses, and observation that people are adapting to the “new normal.”

They also traced their confidence to the increase in volume of sales and orders; to the rollout of vaccine for the coronavirus disease 2019; and to the development of new business and marketing strategies.

Respondents also cited expectations of higher demand for electricity and construction activities during summer for their more buoyant views for the second quarter.

The poll, which surveyed 1,512 companies nationwide, was conducted from February 4 to March 12 this year or before the imposition of the enhanced community quarantine in Metro Manila and the provinces of Bulacan, Rizal, Cavite and Laguna from March 29.