Sonoma County employers expect to hire at a moderate pace in the third quarter, with 13 percent of companies saying they expected to boost staffing levels between July and September, according to a survey by international staffing firm Manpower Group. 

The outlook for the Santa Rosa and Petaluma metropolitan region is one of the weakest in the country, with 7 percent more local employers planning to hire in the third quarter than cut back or maintain staffing levels, according to Manpower, which has a Santa Rosa branch. Some 6 percent of local companies surveyed said they intended to reduce staffing levels, while another 80 percent expected to maintain current workforce levels.  Another 1 percent said they were unsure of their hiring plans.

For the Santa Rosa-Petaluma region, the net outlook is down from the expectation for the second quarter, which was 12 percent. A year ago, it was just 3 percent for the third quarter.

Nationwide, Milwaukee-based Manpower found net sentiment toward third-quarter hiring of 11 percent, when adjusting for seasonal additions. Twenty-one percent expected to bring on more staff, 6 percent said they would reduce staff and 71 percent expected no change. Two percent said they were unsure of hiring activity.

"The employment forecast for the third quarter is slightly weaker compared to the second quarter of 2012 when net employment outlook was 9 percent," Manpower spokeswoman Jennifer Hwang said. "Employers expect improved employment prospects compared with one year ago when the net employment outlook was 3 percent."

Industries that appear poised for improved growth include construction, transportation and utilities, wholesale and retail trade, information, financial activities, leisure and hospitality, and other services.

On the other hand, employers in durable goods manufacturing, education and health services, and government plan on reducing staff levels.

Nondurable goods manufacturers and professional business services expected levels to remain the same.