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Where the Jobs Will (and Won't) Be in 2014

If you hope to land a job in the next three months, where in the country will you find the most vibrant job market? According to the just-released Employment Outlook Survey from staffing giant ManpowerGroup, the No. 1 spot is the Deltona, FL metropolitan region, which includes Daytona Beach and Ormond Beach on the state's east coast.

Each quarter, Manpower surveys employers about whether they plan to add or cut jobs, keep employment levels the same, or haven't yet decided. In the Deltona area, a net 24% of companies plan to hire new staff in the first quarter of next year.

That compares with a net 13% of U.S. employers who expect to add to their workforces next quarter. According to Manpower president Jonas Prising, that's the strongest nationwide number since the first quarter of 2008, before the recession hit. At that point a net 16% of U.S. employers expected to add jobs. The number is up one point from the same period last year and significantly up from the weakest in the history of the survey, 4% in the first quarter of 2010. "If you look back over the last four years, employers have gradually but consistently and doggedly improved their outlook," says Prising. "It's been slow and steady and as we look into the first quarter of 2014, we see no change."

[More from Forbes: The Easiest And Hardest Cities For Finding A Job Right Now]

To gauge companies' hiring plans, Manpower surveyed more than 18,000 employers in the U.S., gathering data in the top 100 metro areas. It used a research firm that quizzed hiring managers and human resource professionals by phone and email over the first two weeks of October. The firm asked one multiple-choice question about companies' plans for the first quarter of 2014: How do you anticipate total employment at your location to change in the next three months to the end of March 2014, as compared to the current quarter? Companies could choose four answers: Increase staff. Reduce staff. Keep staff levels the same. Unsure. Then Manpower crunched the numbers and came up with a "net employment outlook." The survey is a rough measure, since it doesn't count the number of jobs employers plan to add or subtract, but simply asks whether they plan to hire or fire.

Lisa Hancock, Manpower's central Florida executive vice president, says the Deltona area is producing new jobs in both the hospitality business and in professional and business services, with a big player in the professional services set to open a call center (the plans aren't yet official so she couldn't name the company). Another boon to the area: the new SunRail commuter train, set to open early next year.

After Deltona, the second-strongest hiring outlook is in McAllen, TX, near the southernmost tip of the state. A net 23% of employers expect to add jobs there early next year. According to Kelli Stanton, Manpower's regional director for south Texas, two segments of the economy are growing fast. One is what she calls "twin maquiladoras." Auto plants in Reynoso, Mexico, produce cars and then companies in McAllen inspect the vehicles and ship them out. Retail businesses like Walmart, Costco, Dillard's and Macy's also benefit from McAllen's proximity to Mexico as people cross the border to shop. In addition, the young bilingual population has spurred a growth in call centers for companies like T-Mobile and Ticketmaster. Construction is also healthy as retirees, or "winter Texans," have moved to the area. That has spurred the expansion of health care services, producing hospital, residential care and home health care jobs.

[More from Forbes: The 10 Cities Where People Earn The Biggest Paychecks]

Third place on the list is shared by Austin, TX and Cape Coral, FL. In both cities, a net 20% of employers expect to hire in Q1. Cesiah Kessler, Manpower's regional director in Austin, says a slew of high tech companies are hiring, including Apple and Samsung. Austin-based National Instruments and Dell, based in nearby Round Rock. HID Global, a security company that makes key cards, keys and cyber-security systems, announced in late 2012 that it was building its North American operations center in Austin, and it is still hiring. Another company with hiring plans that's based in Austin: the Liquidation Channel, a QVC-like cable channel and website that sells jewelry and other discounted goods. The Cape Coral-Fort Myers area was No. 1 on the list last year, boosted by the recovering housing market and a low density rate, which leaves it plenty of room to grow. The housing recovery has fueled restaurants and retail businesses, including new Walmart and Sam's Club stores. In Fort Myers, a new waterfront development has also produced jobs.

At the other end of the spectrum is Buffalo, NY, where a net of -3% of employers plans to hire in Q1. But the hiring picture there is not all negative, insists Manpower's upstate New York and Vermont regional director, Deena Perro. Though high-paying manufacturing jobs have died out, and the Niagara Falls-related retail and hospitality economy has contracted, there has been growth in green and high tech manufacturing and also in health care and education. M&T Bank, a regional financial chain, has also added a new call center, which is hiring. The next-weakest metro areas, tied with a 0% hiring outlook: Chicago, Hartford, CT, and Memphis.

What does Manpower's Prising predict beyond the first quarter of 2014? "Despite everything we read about volatility, employers in the U.S. are seeing a gradually and steadily improving economy and they are hiring accordingly."

Where The Jobs Will Be In 2014

1. Deltona, FL
Net employment outlook: 24%

2. McAllen TX
Net employment outlook: 23%

3. (tie) Austin
Net employment outlook: 20%

3. (tie) Cape Coral, FL
Net employment outlook: 20%

4. Dallas
Net employment outlook: 19%

See more of The Places Jobs Will Be In 2014.

Where The Jobs Won't Be In 2014

1. Buffalo
Net employment outlook: -3%

2. (tie) Chicago
Net employment outlook: 0%

2. (tie) Hartford
Net employment outlook: 0%

2. (tie) Memphis
Net employment outlook: 0%

3. (tie) Boise, ID
Net employment outlook: 3%

See more of The Places Jobs Won’t Be In 2014.

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