In a quarterly survey that includes 42 countries and territories, European employers were particularly negative about hiring expectations for January, February and March, ManpowerGroup said.
In ManpowerGroup's Europe, Middle East and Africa region in 13 of 24 countries posted a negative Net Employment Outlook for the first quarter of 2013. Three months ago, only eight countries in the region posted negative outlooks for the upcoming quarter.
Hiring optimism was broadly lower, however. The survey found weaker hiring expectations in China and India, as well, ManpowerGroup said.
There was improved hiring sentiment to report. Employers in Taiwan, Brazil, Mexico, Colombia and Panama were among the "most confident" about hiring in January, February and March with Mexico posting its highest level of confidence in almost five years.
The countries with the lowest confidence in hiring included Greece, Italy, Spain, Slovakia, Slovenia and the Netherlands.
In 10 out of 10 countries in the Americas hiring sentiment was positive. In the Asia Pacific region, hiring prospects were largely unchanged from the previous quarterly report, but Australia had the weakest confidence in hiring in the region, "continuing a year-and-a-half trend of steadily weaker Net Employment Outlooks," ManpowerGroup said.