By Nick Zieminski

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Job prospects have improveddramatically in emerging markets like China compared with threemonths ago, but the fourth-quarter hiring outlook dippedslightly in the United States and Germany, according to aquarterly survey by Manpower Inc.

The reading -- which subtracts employers who plan to cutjobs from those who plan to add them -- is above levels of ayear ago when more employers expected staff cuts, but itreflects continued caution among U.S. employers.

In the United States, the net employment outlook was aseasonally adjusted plus-5, down slightly from plus-6 lastquarter.

Manpower's survey, a leading indicator of labor demand,shows global employers remain wary about expanding staff evenas their own business prospects improve and suggests it is toosoon to rule out a double-dip recession. Developed countriesincreasingly stand in contrast to emerging economies, wherejobs prospects are at peak levels.

"Emerging markets are the ones leading the global labormarket recovery," said Jeff Joerres, chief executive of theglobal employment services company. "They're a bit of anisland."

Globally, the net employment outlook was highest in China,followed by Taiwan and India.

At a seasonally adjusted 47, China's outlook for the comingquarter is up 16 points from the third-quarter survey and upfrom 8 a year earlier. That strength partly reflects moredomestic demand within China's economy rather than export-ledgrowth, Manpower said.

Hong Kong, Argentina, Ireland, Canada and Mexico were amongthe 14 economies where hiring prospects have improved since thethird-quarter survey. However, prospects were flat or weaker in22 countries and territories.

All but three countries -- notably Greece, with its debtcrisis -- showed stronger expectations versus a year ago.

Manpower's global survey is based on 62,000 interviews withhuman resources directors and other managers. Milwaukee,Wisconsin-based Manpower is active in 82 countries and makesthe bulk of its sales and profit outside the United States.

DOING MORE WITH LESS

In the United States, employers' caution was underscored bythe number of companies that said they have no plans to changehiring in either direction: 71 percent said so, up 1 percentagepoint from the third quarter.

"There's a standstill here," Joerres said. "Companies haveno confidence, and while they have demand, it's not at such arobust level that they have to start hiring."

Manpower conducted interviews with 18,000 U.S. employersfor its survey, which dates back to 1962 and is considered apredictor of labor trends.

The results come a few days after the U.S. government'sAugust employment report showed a smaller-than-expected drop innon-farm payrolls, with the unemployment rate edging up to 9.6percent from 9.5 percent.

Increased hiring is seen in the education and healthservices sector while in mining, durable goods manufacturingand wholesale and retail sales hiring is expected to decrease.

Manpower said a global double-dip recession is stillpossible, albeit not likely, given persistent uncertainty oversovereign debt problems and U.S. real estate and abrupt shiftsin sentiment toward the euro currency.

Its CEO added that the recent speed of financial newsheadlines, and resulting shifts in mood, were almost comical,as years' worth of market gyrations occur within a few weeks.

"Clients still look at this as a recovery that is occurring and their businesses are getting better, but the notion ofuncertainty, the ability to forecast, has gone to almost zerovisibility, which will affect hiring dramatically," Joerressaid.

MIXED PICTURE

In Europe, Swiss employers are the most likely to createjobs between now and the end of the year, with the highestsurvey reading in the paper's five-year history in thatcountry, partly reflecting hiring in finance and businessservices. The climate for job seekers is also more favorable inBelgium, Norway and Spain.

Readings in Germany, France, Netherlands and Austria weredown slightly from the previous quarter; Britain's wasunchanged. Survey readings in Europe tend to move in smallincrements partly because employers face greater restrictions.

In Latin America, where Manpower's survey has a shorterhistory and is therefore not seasonally adjusted, the hiringoutlook is strongest in Brazil, Peru and Costa Rica.

Hiring plans are up in Canada, reflecting strength in partsof the manufacturing economy.

Japan showed no change from the prior quarter, but thesurvey reading is well up from last year. Indian job seekers inareas like public administration and education face "booming"prospects, Manpower said, even as India's overall reading wasdown modestly. (Editing by Kenneth Barry)