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Job Market Remains U.S. Economy’s Wild Card

Wall Street Journal (04/04/13) Ben Casselman

Although most economists think the U.S. economy has expanded at a rate of about 3.5% so far this year—a sharp rebound from the lackluster growth seen at the end of 2012—the expansion is not translating into more hiring. If Friday’s jobs report from the U.S. Department of Labor is mediocre, that would mean that despite fairly robust growth in February, the economy is adding jobs at a slower pace this year than it did a year ago, when payrolls climbed by an average of about 262,000 jobs over the first quarter. Companies added 2.4 million jobs from February 2011 to February 2012, but since then the full-year pace has slowed to a rate under 2 million as of February. Many economists say economic growth will slow later this year, hurting hiring prospects.