WASHINGTON (AP) — The ManpowerGroup Employment Outlook Survey for the first quarter of 2014 finds employers are very optimistic.

The workforce management firm's survey of 18,000 employers found a 13 percent net increase in hiring plans. Chris Layden, managing director of ManpowerGroup-United States, says it's "the strongest hiring intention" seen since the first quarter of 2008.

The optimism stretched across all industry sectors. Leisure and hospitality led the way with an outlook for a 23 percent increase in hiring. Wholesale and retail trade was next with a 19 percent increase projected. And third in line was professional and business services, expecting a 16 percent increase in hiring.

Of the 50 states, only one had a negative outlook -- a two percent decline in Montana. North Dakota had the strongest outlook of 17 percent.

ManpowerGroup says the improving employer optimism comes despite the uneven recovery and economic uncertainty.

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