No big hiring boost expected in 2012

WASHINGTON – The recent acceleration in hiring may have brightened consumers’ spirits and the recovery’s outlook, but professional forecasters still see just moderate growth ahead for jobs and the economy.

In their latest outlook, forecasters at the National Association for Business Economics said they expect job growth to average 170,000 a month this year. That’s up from the 127,000 that the group’s panel projected for 2012 in November.

Even so, if the forecast released Monday pans out, many people are likely to be disappointed.

The economy added 203,000 net new jobs in December and 243,000 last month. That knocked down the unemployment rate to a three-year low of 8.3 percent and raised hopes that the hiring momentum may be building.

While 170,000 new jobs a month doesn’t sound bad – the economy added an average 152,000 a month last year – it’s unlikely to be enough to make a dent in the unemployment rate.

More new jobs will be needed than usual to absorb workers re-entering the labor market after the devastating recession and sluggish recovery.

As such, the bulk of the association’s 45 forecasters see no change in the jobless rate this year.

The survey was conducted in late January and early February.


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