By Maria Valdez Haubrich

According to a recent Manpower Employment Outlook survey, employers hiring plans for the first quarter of 2011 are “the most promising” in more than two years.

Nine percent of firms surveyed say they expect to hire in the first quarter, which is the largest percentage since fourth quarter 2008. Also good news, 73 percent of employers said they expect to maintain current staffing levels (instead of letting staff go). “The fact that hiring expectations are trending upward is an encouraging sign,” said Manpower president Jonas Prising. Manpower president. “This quarter’s survey responses paint a picture of a job market that is easing up, although not as quickly as anyone would like.”

The survey measured the percentage of firms planning to hire minus the percentage of firms planning to lay off staff, but not the actual number of jobs.

What are you plans for hiring in the new year? Let us know.