SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Business

March 4, 2011

Improving economy raises hopes for better hiring

WASHINGTON — Economists are expecting a strong report on job growth in February, bolstered by news that fewer people sought unemployment benefits last week than in any week in nearly three years.

The sharp decline in applications for unemployment benefits, along with positive reports Thursday from retailers and the service industry, are the latest evidence that hiring will pick up this year.

Some analysts responded to the new data by raising their forecasts for how many jobs the economy created last month. The consensus is 175,000, but many economists are now estimating 200,000 or more, and they expect the pace to hold for the rest of the year. The government releases the February jobs report on Friday.

"All signs point to much stronger hiring," said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics. "I think we finally have a prescription for a better job market."

A few economists are expecting the government to report that employers added as many as 300,000 jobs last month, although that's on the high end of forecasts.

January's figures were anemic — just 36,000 jobs added — partly because of severe winter storms that kept businesses closed. As much as a quarter of February's job gains could come from people returning to payrolls after the bad weather.

But most people pay more attention to the unemployment rate, which fell from 9.8 percent in November to 9 percent in January, the quickest decline in more than half a century.

Economists believe the rate edged up to 9.1 percent in February. Unemployment rates often rise when the economy improves and people who haven't been looking for jobs start hunting again. People who aren't looking are not counted as unemployed.

It would take up to 300,000 new jobs a month on a consistent basis to reduce the unemployment rate significantly, economists say. But few analysts — even those on the high end of February's forecast — think monthly job gains in the 300,000-plus range could be repeated month after month.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Business

AP Video
Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Six Indicted in StubHub Hacking Scheme Trump: DC Hotel Will Be Among World's Best AP Review: Amazon Fire Adds Spark to Smartphones All Aboard! LIRR Strike Averted Microsoft to Cut Up to 18,000 Jobs Time Warner Rejects Murdoch's Takeover Bid Yellen Says Economy Still Needs Fed Support Cleveland Expects Economic Boom From Lebron Justice Dept. Fines Citigroup $7 Billion Justice Dept. Fines Citigroup $7 Billion Downside of Low Mortgage Rates? Less Selling Cupcake Shop Crumbs Shuttering All Its Stores San Francisco Prepares for Soda Battle Dow Breaks Record 17,000 GM Crash Compensation Could Top $1 Billion GM Won't Limit Crash Compensation Funds
NDN Video
Weird 'Wakudoki' Dance Launches Promotional Competition Two women barely avoid being hit by train Chris Pratt Adorably Surprises Kids at a 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Screening Chapter Two: Designing for Naomi Watts NOW TRENDING: Peyton Manning dancing at practice "The Bachelorette" Makes Her Decision Thieves pick the wrong gas station to rob Golden Sisters on '50 Shades' trailer: 'Look At That Chest!' Staten Island Man's Emotional Dunk Over NYPD Car - @TheBuzzeronFOX GMA: Dog passes out from excitment to see owner Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted 'Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' Sneak Peek Florida Keys Webcam Captures Turtles Hatching Morgan Freeman Sucks Down Helium on 'Tonight Show' Robin Wright Can Dance! (WATCH) She's Back! See Paris Hilton's New Carl's Jr. Ad Big Weekend For Atlanta Braves In Cooperstown - @TheBuzzeronFox Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director What's Got Jack Black Freaking Out at Comic-Con? Doctors Remove 232 Teeth From Teen's Mouth
Comments Trcker