RAlEIGH – The Raleigh metro area is one of the hottest job markets in the country with 24 percent of employers looking to add workers in the coming months. And workers already are hard to find.

That’s according to a new survey from talent management firm Manpower. But where will companies find recruits?

The Raleigh-Cary metro area jobless rate is already down to 3.1 percent in April from 3.6 percent in March. In January the rate was 3.9 percent.

Charlotte, meanwhile, leads the country with 37 percent of employers planning to hire.Its current unemployment rate is 3.3 percent, down from 3.7 percent in March and 4.1 percent in January.

The hiring plans helps offset news about recent layoffs at IBM. Lenovo and Republic Wireless while the Raleigh area continues to add jobs at a rapid clip – more than 14,000 in recent months, according to the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce.

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Greensboro and Winston-Salem also are hot job markets with more hiring planned at 28 percent and 27 percent of surveyed firms. The Manpower report covers the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas. Durham does not crack that list.

The plans to add workers in North Carolina is part of a national trend with Manpower reporting the strongest plans to hire workers at 21 percent of companies surveyed. That’s the highest in 13 years, Manpower says.

“Hiring intentions are 2 percentage points stronger when compared with the previous quarter, and improve by 3 percentage points in comparison with this time one year ago,” Manpower says in the survey, which was published Tuesday.

A job seekers’ market

Employers have said in recent economic surveys such as the Chief Finacial Officer survey from Duke University that recruiting talent is one of the top challenges for their companies. And demand remains tight.

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“At a time of record low unemployment and employer optimism at levels we haven’t seen since the mid-2000s, we need to do more to connect people to jobs if we’re going to sustain economic growth,” said Becky Frankiewicz, President of ManpowerGroup North America.

“With such strong competition for talent, skilled workers are choosing when, where and how they work. We find jobs for 275,000 workers every year and know flexibility, access to childcare and clear career paths are especially attractive benefits to women and men. To find and retain top talent, the best companies are offering holistic benefits packages with accelerated training programs and opportunities to learn, earn more and move up so employees have the skills for jobs today and tomorrow.”

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The news comes as North Carolina’s unemployment rate remains at 4 percent in April for the second consecutive month.

The state also has more than 20,000 open information technology positions, according to the trade group NC TECH.

Nationally, US employers hired the most people on record in April, while the number of open jobs was largely unchanged, evidence that the job report remains solid. The Labor Department says businesses filled 5.9 million jobs in April, 4.2% more than in March and the most since records began in December 2000, according to the Associated Press.

Read more about the Manpower survey online.