December 7, 2012

US adds 146K jobs, defying Sandy and 'fiscal cliff'

Analysts said the job market's underlying strength suggests that if the White House and Congress can reach a budget deal, hiring and economic growth could accelerate next year.

The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

In this Friday, Nov. 30, 2012 photo, a person fills out an application at the Fort Lauderdale Career Fair, in Dania Beach, Fla. The U.S. economy added a solid 146,000 jobs in November and the unemployment rate fell to 7.7 percent, the lowest since December 2008, the Labor Department announced Friday, Dec. 7, 2012. The government said Superstorm Sandy had only a minimal effect on the figures. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)

But a resolution of the cliff could accelerate job growth in the construction and manufacturing industries. Those sectors, on average, pay more than the retail and restaurant jobs that have helped drive hiring in recent months and tend to contribute more to economic growth.

Construction workers earned an average of $26 an hour in November. Factory workers averaged $24 an hour. Both far exceed the hourly average of $16.40 for retail employees and about $13.40 for hotel, restaurant and other hospitality workers.

"The good news is not that the labor market is improving rapidly — it isn't — but that employment growth is holding up despite all the fears over the fiscal cliff," Gault said.

He estimates that a budget deal would boost the economy's average monthly job gains to about 200,000 next year.

One company that could step up hiring in 2013 is Ahaus Tool & Engineering in Richmond, Ind., which makes assembly machines for the automotive and power-generation industries.

Kevin Ahaus, president of the 90-person company and the fourth generation of his family to run it, says the company had its best year ever in the 12 months that ended in September. But since October, sales have leveled off. Many customers are asking for bids but not closing deals, Ahaus said, because of the uncertain economic outlook.

That, in turn, is causing him to delay hiring.

"I probably won't hire anybody until the first of the year because of all the unknowns out there," he said.

Many analysts thought Sandy would hold back job growth significantly in November because the storm forced restaurants, retailers and other businesses to close in late October and early November.

It didn't. In part, that's because the storm struck Oct. 29, but as long as employees had returned to work by Thanksgiving week, the survey counted them as employed.

Yet there were signs that the storm disrupted some areas of the economy in November. Construction employment dropped 20,000, for example.

Retailers added 53,000 positions last month, a sharp gain that likely reflected holiday hiring. Auto manufacturers added nearly 10,000 jobs. But overall manufacturing jobs fell by 7,000, partly a result of 12,000 jobs lost in food manufacturing that likely reflected layoffs at Hostess Brands Inc.

The rebound in housing is leading Georgia Pacific, a paper and wood products company, to hire. It is opening a new plant in South Carolina next year and is filling 140 jobs. So far, it's received 2,400 applications.

"It's a little overwhelming from an HR perspective," said Julie Brehm, vice president of human resources.

Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors




Further Discussion

Here at PressHerald.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)