MarketWatch (03/04/12) Jeffry Bartash
The U.S. likely added 208,000 jobs in February, and the unemployment rate stayed put at 8.3%, predict economists surveyed by MarketWatch ahead of the March 9 jobs report. However, economists believe businesses are not hiring at a rapid pace and that fewer firings are fueling payroll growth. Gus Faucher, senior economist at PNC Financial Services, says to lower the U.S. employment rate to prerecession levels, 250,000 to 300,000 jobs per month must be created, and he does not think that is possible. Meanwhile, Neil Dutta, economist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, says flat consumer spending, among other things, means a faster pace of hiring cannot be sustained. Other economists believe the economy may have gotten a boost from the unseasonably warm winter, and such growth will not continue into spring.