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.
    Image Recognition Market Seen Doubling by 2020i
    X
    Ramon Taylor
    May 05, 2016 10:05 PM
    From auto tagging on Facebook to self-driving cars, image recognition technology as it exists today is still in its beginning phases, experts say — and will soon change the way users and corporations interact with the physical world. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
    Video

    Video Image Recognition Market Seen Doubling by 2020

    From auto tagging on Facebook to self-driving cars, image recognition technology as it exists today is still in its beginning phases, experts say — and will soon change the way users and corporations interact with the physical world. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
    Video

    Video Child Labor in Afghanistan Remains a Problem

    With war still raging in Afghanistan, the country also faces the problem of child labor as families put their school-age children to work to help make ends meet. But, thanks to VOA's Afghan Service, two families whose children had been working in a brick-making factory - to earn their livings and pay off family debts - now have a new lease on life. Zabihullah Ghazi reports.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Troops Recount Firefight Which Killed US Navy SEAL

    A U.S. Navy SEAL killed Tuesday, when Islamic State fighters punched through Kurdish lines in northern Iraq, was part of a quick reaction force sent to extract other U.S. troops trapped by the surprise offensive. VOA's Kawa Omar spoke with Kurdish troops in the town of Telskuf -- the scene of what U.S. officials called a "dynamic firefight."
    Video

    Video British Lawmakers Warn EU Exit Talks Could Last A Decade

    Leaving the European Union would mean difficult negotiations that could take years to complete, according to a bipartisan group of British lawmakers. While the group did not recommend a vote either way, the lawmakers noted trade deals between the EU and non-EU states take between four and nine years on average. Henry Ridgwell reports on the mounting debate over whether Britain should stay or exit the EU as the June vote approaches.
    Video

    Video NASA Astronauts Train for Commercial Space Flights

    Since the last Shuttle flight in 2011, the United States has been relying on Russian rockets to launch fresh crews to the International Space Station. But that may change in the next few years. NASA and several private space companies are developing advanced capsules capable of taking humans into low orbit and beyond. As VOA's George Putic reports, astronauts are already training for commercial spacecraft in flight simulators.
    Video

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    The White House is expressing concern about rising political chaos in Iraq and the impact it could have on the fight against the Islamic State. The U.S. says Iraq needs a stable, central government to help push back the group. But some say Baghdad may not have a unified government any time soon. VOA's White House correspondent Mary Alice Salinas reports.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora