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Job Market Barometers Point to Weaker Growth

USA Today (04/09/13) Tim Mullaney

Recent data on hiring plans, job availability, and how many workers feel confident enough to quit their jobs all point to much lower growth. Traffic at the top 10 job-hunting websites is up 28% from a year ago, according to data from Experian Hitwise. Bill Tancer, Experian’s managing director of global research, calls that a sign that workers who still fear layoffs are hedging bets. Goldman Sachs economist Sven Stehn says that current layoffs are so low that, statistically, an economy with so few firings should have generated 263,000 jobs a month in recent months. But the rate of hiring points to only 107,000 new jobs, and surveys of employers’ hiring plans by ManpowerGroup point to only 59,000 jobs a month.

Meanwhile, Gallup surveys show workers’ perceptions of the job market are no better than a year ago, despite some economists’ forecasts that economic growth hit a 3% annual clip in the first quarter. “You get a distorted picture from the unemployment numbers,” says Dennis Jacobe, chief economist at Gallup, whose research uses economics and public opinion to predict behavior. “From an individual perspective, there’s no change in how the situation is.” To Jacobe, one key statistic is a Gallup survey showing a 17 percentage-point gap between the percentage of people who say their companies are hiring workers and the smaller number who say their employers are firing, virtually unchanged from last March.