Economists predict continued strong job creation


Economists predict that job creation will continue to be strong, instead of decelerating.

Economists predict that the U.S. labor market, which has created more than 200,000 positions during each of the last three months, will continue staffing a growing number of jobs, according to The Associated Press.

The labor market was showing signs of improvement during the same time in 2011, but various events including the Japanese earthquake interfered with continuing progress, the media outlet reports. Between February and April of 2011, the U.S. economy created an average of 239,000 positions every month. The rate of job growth then dropped to less than 80,000 positions per month between May and August.

The most recent evidence that the U.S. jobs market is on strong footing is the Labor Department report released on March 9, which indicated that the nation created 227,000 jobs in February. The unemployment rate was unchanged at 8.3 percent, but had been at 9 percent as recently as September.

Additional data released by the Department of Labor indicated that worker productivity decelerated during the final quarter of 2011, growing at an annualized rate of 0.9 percent. The figure grew at a rate of 1.8 percent during the previous quarter. Slowing productivity growth means that companies will need to hire more workers in order to keep up with rising demand instead of squeezing additional output out of employees.

Consumers have also engaged in substantial deleveraging, paying off debt they accumulated during the most recent economic expansion. Data provided by the Federal Reserve indicates that the fraction of post-tax income going towards debt payments has dropped to its lowest level since 1994, according to the media outlet.

The credit market has warmed up, and U.S. banks are lending more to businesses. Data provided by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. indicates that lending to businesses surged 14 percent in 2011 to $1.35 trillion, the news source reports. Loans made to small businesses also rose as the year started to wind down.

An example of this job creation is property and casualty insurer Acuity, which announced on March 12 that it plans to hire 50 employees as a result of substantial revenue growth, according to a statement. The insurer plans to engage in staffing at its headquarters in Sheboygan, Wisconsin.

The firm indicated that revenue surged by more than 8 percent in 2011, and that the company's top line growth is 12 percent so far in 2012. Acuity announced plans to hire people to work on claims, underwriters, human resources professionals, programmers, regulatory analysts and people to provide technical support.

"The economy is beginning to rebound, which is driving up demand for insurance coverage at the same time the rest of the insurance marketplace is tightening," Ben Salzmann, Acuity's president and chief executive, said in the statement. "Acuity is expanding because our financial strength provides us the capacity to take on more business and be a resource for a growing number of families, individuals and businesses."

Lynn Coady, Acuity's vice president of human resources, stated that the staffing efforts will be made easier by the quality candidates created by local universities. She said in the statement that "the University of Wisconsin system and area colleges continue to produce high-quality graduates to fill these positions."

She added that "We are seeing the best of the best [-] students with high grade point averages who are tech-savvy, who are critical thinkers with pleasant demeanors, and many who are coming to Acuity with internship experience."

Hopefully, further staffing efforts of the company will benefit from current labor market conditions.