Tags: jobs | hours | workweek | hiring

USA Today: Job Growth May Be on the Way

By    |   Monday, 11 March 2013 11:17 AM

American companies are reaching their limit in stretching the workweek without hiring additional employees, so they could be forced to start hiring soon, according to USA Today.

The latest national jobs report showed the average workweek in the United States crept up to 34.5 hours last month, ahead of the 34.4 hours in January and a much higher 33.8 in 2009 during the economic crisis peak.

Drew Matus, an economist at UBS, predicted if demand keeps going higher, so will hiring.

Editor's Note:
Economist Warns: 50% Unemployment, 100% Inflation Possible

“If people working hourly get more jobs, it’s more money in their pocket. It leads to more demand, more retail hiring and eventually more hiring generally,” he told USA Today.

Matus noted that the gain in hours was the equivalent of 329,000 new jobs added to the work force, when multiplied by all private-sector workers.

Another factor that could force employment growth is productivity. U.S. productivity fell at an annual rate of 1.9 percent in the fourth quarter, the biggest drop since late 2008, USA Today reported.

Marisa Di Natale, an economist at Moody’s Analytics, said the average workweek in some industries, such as construction and manufacturing, is now longer than it was at the peak of the last recovery.

But Nigel Gault, chief U.S. economist at IHS Global Insight, said it may be premature to predict a hiring surge.

“The same argument could have been made last winter, but employment growth then fizzled in midyear,” he said. “All will depend on the strength of growth in demand.”

The employment report showed 236,000 jobs added to U.S. payrolls in February, while the unemployment rate went down to 7.7 percent, from 7.9 percent.

Private-sector wages rose 0.6 percent as people both worked more hours and at a higher hourly wage. Part of the decline in unemployment, however, was caused by the labor force shrinking and people no longer looking for work, The Washington Post reported.

Robert Dye, chief economist of Comerica, sounded a hopeful note.

“If we can keep the labor market momentum up for the next few critical months, as fiscal tightening continues, many other good things will happen,” he said in a research note obtained by The Post. “Solid hiring is the antidote to fiscal tightening. We got a dose of the antidote in February. More is needed.”

William Dunkelberg, chief economist at the National Federation of Independent Business, issued a bit of optimism with a caveat.

“Overall, labor market indicators improved in February, building upon the modest gains of December and suggesting the possibility of better job creation and reduced unemployment numbers,” he said in a statement.

“However, keep the champagne on ice: employment is still below its 2008 level, so there is a long way to go before our economy is healthy and employment is restored to its pre-recession level.”

Editor's Note: Economist Warns: 50% Unemployment, 100% Inflation Possible

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American companies are reaching their limit in stretching the workweek without hiring additional employees, so they could be forced to start hiring soon, according to USA Today.
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2013-17-11
Monday, 11 March 2013 11:17 AM
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