According to a recent survey of 18,000 employers by human resources management firm Manpower Group, 17 percent of U.S. employers — nearly one out of five — plan to add staff in the first quarter of the year. Most employers, 73 percent of those surveyed, plan to maintain their current staffing levels. According to Manpower, this is the strongest first quarter outlook since 2008. So I asked several human resources professionals and employment experts where they thought job growth was likely to be strongest in 2014.

Job-matching website notes the following job trends based on more than 70 million job postings. Among the hottest jobs for 2014 were, in order:

1. Laborers and freight, stock and material handlers: These are manual labor jobs, outside the construction industry, such as factory workers and warehouse employees working in fulfillment centers for online retailers.

2. Accountants and auditors: With increasing government regulation these positions are in high demand.

3. Software developers: This is the fastest growing job category, according to the study. It also pays exceptionally well, with median pay for software developers of approximately $100,000 annually, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

4. Occupational therapists: As the American population ages, the need for workers to help individuals recover from injuries is increasing rapidly.

5. General and operations managers: Proven managers to help keep projects on schedule and to supervise and motivate employees are in demand.

Mark Lieberman, managing director and senior economist at Economics Analytics Research, predicts that the health sector will continue to provide steady job growth, due to the Affordable Care Act. As the number of people with medical insurance increases, so will the demand for and use of devices such as MRIs, CT Scans and even X-rays. That demand will translate into an increasing need for radiologists and medical technicians as well as the workers to manufacture the equipment itself. The demand will result, in part, from smaller medical facilities which could in the past never justify the investment in the equipment. In’s study, coming in just below the top 5 most in demand positions, discussed above, were the health care-related jobs of pharmacy technicians and registered nurses. Also as a result of the ACA, insurance companies will see an increased need for clerical staff to process claims, according to Lieberman.

Dan Campbell, current chairman of the American Staffing Association and CEO of Hire Dynamics, points out that “we are currently experiencing a manufacturing renaissance in the U.S.” as more manufacturers are producing goods on American soil. As a result, the “trades are cool again,” according to Campbell. There is a growing shortage of skilled labor. As workers are reaching retirement age, there is only one trained person available to replace every four people retiring from the trades.

Campbell suggests attending technical or vocational school as a way to a career in the trades, leading to jobs with good salaries and job security. He notes, “Manufacturing has become sophisticated, specialized work as skilled trades are as much about working in technology as with your hands.”

According to the job search engine Linkup, the transportation sector is also one to watch. In 2013, this sector was their largest, by client, and they expect even faster job growth in 2014. “Goods, services and people all need to be transported as the economy steadies, so look for this industry to be solid with notable hiring and growth,” notes Molly Moseley of LinkUp.

Interview coach Chris Delaney, the author of “73 Rules for Influencing the Interview,” suggests that “this is the year that social media jobs will boom.” He points out that “e-commerce jobs have recently been appearing on the recruitment pages of many large companies, and now smaller companies are jumping on the band-wagon, creating millions of new job roles in 2014.”

Jeanne Achille, chief executive officer of recruiting firm the Devon Group, agrees, stating social media marketing is an extremely hot skill set. She adds: “Our clients who thought Twitter would be a distant memory are now clamoring to ramp up quickly and build a following as if they had joined the party years ago.” Social media will be a key part in company advertising and marketing strategies as more and more individuals search for goods and services on their smartphones.

This year looks likely to offer a slightly more promising job market than in the previous few years. The job market will not be better for everyone. Those who have the skills that are in demand as the economy grows stronger, however, will find the job market increasingly welcoming.

A veteran human resources executive, Lee E. Miller is a career coach and the author of “UP: Influence Power and the U Perspective — The Art of Getting What You Want.” Mail questions to