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No Big Pickup in Job Growth in 2012, Forecasters Say

Los Angeles Times (02/27/12) Don Lee

Forecasters at the National Association for Business Economics expect job growth to average 170,000 a month in 2012, up from the 127,000 that the group’s panel projected for 2012 in November. The new forecast, to be released today, predicts moderate growth ahead for jobs and the economy, despite the 203,000 net new jobs added in December and 243,000 in January. The economists surveyed foresee U.S. gross domestic product, the broadest measure of economic activity, expanding 2.3% this year after growing at a sluggish 1.7% rate in 2011.

One reason job growth is not likely to sustain the pace of the last two months is that the recent hiring spurt is seen as having been inflated by unseasonably warm weather, says Richard DeKaser, deputy chief economist at the Parthenon Group and an analyst for the association’s survey. Productivity also is expected to pick up from very low levels in the fourth quarter, he adds, meaning employers will be able to satisfy more of the demand for goods and services by increasing output from existing employees and machines.