Feb. 27, 2007 -- Just over half of the nation's manufacturing and service-sector employers are planning to increase their workforce over the next five weeks, according to a report released Tuesday by the Society for Human Resource Management and Rutgers University.

As many as 50.1 percent of employers surveyed nationwide said they were planning new hires in March, the report said. On a year-over-year basis, 61.4 percent of service-sector employers expected to created jobs next month, compared to just 45.2 percent during the same period last year, while manufacturers expected to hire new employees at roughly the same rate as March 2006, the report said.

Despite expanding employment, employers also said it was becoming increasingly difficult to find qualified job applicants, the report said.

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