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Why Recent Job Gains May Stick This Time

Wall Street Journal (03/05/12) Conor Dougherty; Rob Barry

While the U.S. job market has improved of late, observers note strong job growth early in 2011 was followed by a slowing in the spring and summer. However, job growth this year has spread to more of the nation’s largest metro areas—divisions bigger than cities that can include several counties. According to data from the government and Moody’s Analytics, 82 of the 100 largest metro areas saw year-over-year job growth through December, up from 71 metro areas with an increase through December 2010.

Meanwhile, initial claims for unemployment benefits, which are a reliable indicator of hiring, have declined for four months. Forecasters expect the overall trend to continue. IHS Global Insight projects job growth will increase in all 50 states this year, with a handful reaching prerecession employment levels by the end of 2012 or 2013. They note the recovery has led to a ramp-up in business investment, higher consumer spending, and, finally, more hiring.