News

US Businesses Sharply Boosting Employment


View Recent Global Jobless Rates in a larger map

Recent Global Jobless Rates

  • Germany: 5.8 percent
  • France: 9.4 percent
  • Greece: 20.9 percent
  • Spain: 23.2 percent
  • China: 4.3 percent
  • Afghanistan: 35 percent
  • Haiti: 40.6 percent
  • South Africa: 23.3 percent
  • Pakistan: 15 percent
  • Turkey: 12.4 percent
  • Egypt: 9.7 percent
  • Australia: 5.1 percent
  • Japan: 5.1 percent
  • Vietnam: 2.9 percent
  • Britain: 7.9 percent
  • Russia: 7.6 percen
  • Cuba: 2 percent
  • India: 10.8 percent
Source: EU, CIA

The U.S. economy had a net gain of 227,000 jobs in February, while the unemployment rate held steady at 8.3 percent.  Some industry experts say Friday's employment data is the latest in a series of generally upbeat economic reports showing the economy regaining strength and recovering from the worst recession in decades.  But millions of people are still out of work and an economic scholar says the headline unemployment numbers mask some serious continuing problems.

Friday's closely-watched report from the Labor Department shows strong job growth in February, and indicates job gains in the prior two months were stronger than first reported.  Altogether it means that U.S. job growth over the past six months is the strongest since 2006, which was before the financial crisis.  

Surveys show the improved job situation is giving consumers more confidence that they will have jobs and makes them more likely to purchase appliances, cars or houses, which stimulates the economy -- and further boosts employment.  That is important because consumer demand drives about 70 percent of U.S. economic activity.

These job gains are also part of an improving economic picture that is encouraging businesses to begin hiring.

Growing business confidence was evident earlier this week in a survey of financial executives across the nation.  Researchers at the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants questioned more than 1,300  key financial managers, including Jim Morrison, chief financial officer of Teknor Apex, a plastics company in Pawtucket, Rhode Island.

He says businesses have been reluctant to hire new people and have instead been squeezing more productivity out of their existing workforce.  "Nobody wants to be hiring before they are absolutely certain that the economic upturn is here to stay because you don’t want to hire people and then be faced with a layoff when things down turn," Morison said.  

But Morrison says companies have already done everything they can think of to boost productivity, from spending more on computers, to asking employees to work more than their normal hours for premium pay.  He says hiring is improving because managers are becoming convinced they can not meet growing demand without a growing workforce.
While the outlook is improving, 12.8 million people in the U.S. are still officially counted as unemployed.  

An economic scholar at the American Enterprise Institute says the job situation is actually worse than the headline numbers suggest.  

Aparna Mathur says an additional eight million want full-time employment but can find only part-time jobs.  Another one million out-of-work people are so discouraged that they have given up seeking jobs, believing there is no work available for them.  They are not officially counted as unemployed unless they have searched for a job in the past four weeks.  

"If you include all of those people, the marginally attached and the people who are part-time employed, you get a number like 14.9 percent today," Mathur said.

Mathur added that is nearly double the official jobless rate.  She says besides the problem of millions out of work or working less than they want, the current recession is keeping people out of jobs much longer than in previous recessions.

Four out of 10 unemployed people have been out of work for 27 weeks or longer, which hurts their chances of getting new jobs because their unused work skills deteriorate.  Mathur says government programs that pay part of the cost of hiring the long-term unemployed have helped manage the jobless rate in other nations.  She says Washington could also help businesses by reducing uncertainties about taxes and regulations that make them less willing to take risks on the investments that lead to job creation.

No matter how you help jobless people and measure the unemployment rate, the U.S. economy could encounter some problems in the next few months.  Experts cite concerns about rising gasoline prices that could reduce spending on other goods, along with slower expansion in China or a downturn in Europe that could cut demand for U.S.-made exports.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Cari
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
May 27, 2015 9:31 PM
Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs