Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics on the number of jobs created last month may have been disappointing when it was released last week. But a recent survey of 18,000 employers spread across all 50 states finds a larger percentage of them planning to hire new workers in the coming quarter than at any time since 2008.
The survey, conducted by the temporary staffing firm Manpower, finds that the hiring trend is strongest in the leisure and hospitality sector, followed closely by the mining sector and wholesale and retail trade sectors. Yet across all 13 of the industry sectors surveyed, no less than 11 percent of employers (seasonally adjusted) reported an intention to add workers in the final three months of 2014.
Texas continues to lead the U.S. in terms of job creation, with three of the five top metropolitan area job forecasts (Dallas, Houston, and McAllen) in the Lone Star State. The other two were Phoenix and San Jose, making it clear that the western part of the country is currently expecting the strongest employment growth.
The data from the survey ought to strengthen the case made by many economists that the August BLS report showing only 142,000 new jobs created was an aberration. The economy had, in the previous six months, consistently produced more than 200,000 new jobs each month. There is a broad expectation that the August numbers will be revised upward as better data becomes available; the Manpower report appears to add some weight to that theory.
The U.S. unemployment rate, though well below its 2009 peak of 10 percent, remains at 6.1 percent, considerably higher than the 4-to-5 percent rate common in the years before the recession. It remains an open question how quickly the rate will come down, though, even if employers go on a hiring spree in the last three months of the year.
Many of the long-term unemployed dropped out of the U.S. labor force in the years following the recession, which kept the unemployment number artificially low. (BLS does not count people as unemployed if they’re not actively looking for work.)
There is evidence that as more jobs are created, some of those discouraged workers are returning to the workforce, even if only as jobseekers, which can increase the unemployment figure even as more jobs are created. Economists refer to this phenomenon as the existence of “slack” in the labor force.
The question of just how many of those workers will come back is a key one for policymakers at the Federal Reserve, who have said that their decision about when to raise interest rates from their current rock-bottom levels is tied, in part, to the amount of “slack” they observe.
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