Seattle looks to have one of the fastest-growing job markets in 2011.

There’s even more good news going into 2011: the forecast for hiring is looking better than it has in two years. As Rick Newman put it in U.S. News and World Report

For many Americans, the recession is finally over. Economic growth in 2011 is likely to exceed 3 percent, and perhaps even hit 4 percent. That would be the best performance in more than a decade. Workers who held onto their jobs during the Great Recession can finally exhale, with growing confidence that their job security is improving. Companies are grudgingly starting to hire back a few of the unemployed. And the latest stimulus and tax-cut plan out of Washington will put cash into practically every taxpayer’s pocket, just to make sure the economy keeps marching forward.

When Manpower Inc. surveyed more than 18,000 companies in 100 cities about their hiring plans for the first quarter, those who expected to be hiring outpaced those who expected to reduce their staff by 9 percent.

The survey named the best and worst places to find a job next year: Baton Rouge, La., was tops for job prospects, with 22 percent of employers planning to add to their staff. It was followed by Seattle, which is looking at growth in information technology, international trade and health care, among other sectors. Milwaukee was third. Meanwhile, Columbia, SC, Akron, OH, Houston, Boise and Los Angeles were five of the cities bracing for the worst job growth. Perhaps the best news overall was that employers in all areas of the country expect growth, though slightly more so in the West. But even with the best results since 2008, there’s still a long way to go:

“The good news is that we have seen five straight quarters of survey results that indicate an uptick in hiring activity,” says Melanie Holmes, Manpower’s vice president. “As we look to the first quarter of 2011, employers plan to add staff, albeit at a slow pace. The trend is in the right direction, but we would all like to see employer confidence improve and the pace of hiring pick up.”

There was even better news in CareerBuilders’ newly released edition of their annual job forecast, for which more than 2,400 hiring managers and HR staffers were interviewed. More than half of them reported their company was in a better financial state now than it was a year ago. Job growth was still expected to be gradual, but were up from last year, and leaps and bounds ahead of the results from 2009:

Twenty-four percent of employers plan to hire full-time, permanent employees in 2011, up from 20 percent in 2010 and 14 percent in 2009.  Seven percent plan to decrease headcount, an improvement from 9 percent in 2010 and 16 percent in 2009.  Fifty-eight percent anticipate no change in their staff levels while 11 percent are unsure.

Hiring trends are definitely still shifting as a result of the recession, however. Though employers had a positive outlook for both full-time and part-time hiring, contractors will play an increased role, too:

Businesses will be relying on interim solutions to help shoulder growing workloads. One-third of hiring managers (34 percent) reported they will hire contract or temporary workers to supplement leaner staffs in 2011, up from 30 percent last year and 28 percent in 2009.  Of those hiring, nearly one-in-four (24 percent) expect to add more than last year.  Thirty-nine percent of employers plan to transition some contract or temporary staff into full-time, permanent employees.

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