To live in one of the world's hottest job markets, you may need to move to South America.
At least that's the case into the fall of 2007, as Argentina and Peru join traditional economic powers like the U.S., Canada and Hong Kong among the countries with the most robust job outlooks for the third quarter of the year.
While both countries have a long way to go to escape the ranks of the world's poor, they're booming, in recovery from the downtrodden 1990s. Freer trade, private sector investment in the mining and telecom industries, plus rising commodity prices that have boosted export dollars, have begun to show signs of paying off. Peru's economy grew 6.5% last year, while Argentina's shot up 8.5%.
"A lot of Latin America is starting to find its feet," says Jeffrey Joerres, chief executive of global placement firm Manpower (nyse: MAN - news - people ), which recently studied employment trends around the globe. He and others caution that the economic run in that region is still based more on a somewhat inevitable recovery than on a lot of structural change.
Bart van Ark, executive director for economic research at The Conference Board, says Latin America still needs to develop more labor-oriented industries to complement the capital-intensive telecom and mining sectors.
"We'll have to see if this is sustainable," he says of the recent boom.
Manpower's quarterly Global Employment Outlook, which surveyed over 50,000 employers across 27 countries, ranked Peru No. 2 and Argentina No. 4 in expected job growth for the July-September quarter. The firm scored each country by subtracting the percentage of companies that said they plan to cut back on workers from the percentage that said they plan to add them. A country where 75% of employers plan to add to their workforces and 25% plan to cut them, for example, scores +50%. Peru rated +48%, while Argentina weighed in at +38%.
Explaining the rest of the Top 10 list is pretty simple: Free markets and minimal government interference mean more jobs. Of the 10 countries with brightest employment outlooks, six also show up on the Top 10 on the Heritage Foundation's Index of Economic Freedom, a guide the free market think tank uses to recognize those countries that adhere to relatively lower taxes and a light government touch to running the economy.
The six: Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, the U.S., New Zealand and Canada. All are also among the seven countries rated highest by the World Bank for "ease of doing business."
Meantime, Europe is mostly absent from Manpower's list of job-creating countries. Norway, benefiting from high oil prices, is the only representative. The continent is lagging in the all-important services sector, though Germany has managed to shake its "Old Europe" tag a bit to become a bigger exporter in the past year. Germany's 14% score is a big jump from the 1% it registered last year. Ireland, riding a strong tech wave in recent years, is due to cool off some in 2007 even as job growth remains positive.
While oil and metals prices can carry an economy for a little while, sustained growth invariably comes down to structural improvements in technology and productivity, asserts van Ark.
And it's Asia, sleepy for so long outside of Japan, where most of the progress is being made in those areas, with Vietnam and the Philippines joining China as converts to the notion that increased efficiency through technology is key to boosting wealth and jobs.