Thirteen percent of employers said they increased their number of full-time, permanent employees in the first quarter – down from 31 percent this time last year – while 60 percent reported their staff levels remained the same. Meanwhile, 26 percent reported a reduction in headcount, up from 13 percent this time last year.

Those are some of the results from a recent survey from CareerBuilder and USA TODAY, conducted by Harris Interactive during February and March among 2,500 hiring managers and 4,400 workers in private sector companies.

Other results:

Fourteen percent of employers expect to add full-time, permanent employees in the second quarter, relatively unchanged from the first quarter of 2009 and down from 29 percent in the second quarter of 2008. Fourteen percent anticipate there will be a decrease in headcount in the second quarter while 64 percent expect no change and 7 percent are undecided.

Twenty-two percent of hiring managers reported there were layoffs at their locations in the first quarter of 2009, up from 11 percent this time last year. Twelve percent anticipate there will be layoffs in the next three months while 16 percent are unsure. Seventy-two percent expect no change.

And for the unemployed, 23 percent said their companies are planning to bring back workers who were laid off once the economy turns around.

Forty-two percent of employers reported they experienced a cut in perks and benefits at their organizations in the first quarter of 2009. The top three areas that will be impacted are bonuses, 401K matching and healthcare coverage, according to the survey.

Twenty-three percent of employers said they are taking this time, when hiring has slowed, to replace lower-performing employees with top talent that may not have been available in a healthier economy.

In a separate survey, 60 percent of workers over the age of 60 said they are putting off their retirement due to the impact of the U.S. financial crisis on their long-term savings.

Seventy one percent of workers who were laid off and have not found work said they are looking for jobs outside of their chosen profession. Hiring managers appear to be amenable with 69 percent reporting they would hire someone who didn’t have experience in their profession, but had transferable skills.

Thirty-nine percent of workers who were laid off and have not found work said they would consider relocating to another city or state for a job.
 
Twenty-one percent of all workers surveyed are going back to school for formal degrees, certifications and refresher courses to make themselves more marketable to employers.

The U.S. South continues to perform better than other regions in terms of hiring, seeing the benefits of growth in healthcare and energy.  Sixteen percent of hiring managers in the South plan to increase their full-time staff, compared to a 14 percent average among other regions.  The Northeast, plagued by losses in banking and financial jobs, is expecting the largest decrease in headcount among the regions.

Forty-two percent of employers expect to increase salaries for full-time, permanent employees in the second quarter, down from 70 percent this time last year. Forty-six percent of employers anticipate no change in compensation levels, 7 percent expect a decrease and 5 percent are unsure.