Josh Zumbrun: Job Openings At 14-Year High As Hiring Returns To Pre-Recession Levels
For the first time since January 2001, the U.S. had more than five million job openings at the end of December, a sign of a labor environment shifting in favor of workers. December was also the best month for hiring since before the recession struck more than seven years ago. More than 5.1 million people were hired in December, the most since November 2007, according to the Labor Department‘s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, known as JOLTS.
The report adds to signs that the labor market is strengthening considerably. The Labor Department’s main jobs report, released on February 6, showed that November, December and January comprised the best three-month stretch of hiring since 1997, raising hope that the U.S economy will start delivering stronger wage growth for a wider swath of Americans after more than five years of sluggish recovery from a deep recession.
A family-run concrete business in Michigan, the U.S.’s second-biggest carmaker, the largest railroad and a solar power provider in California are all hiring as industrial companies lead a broad labor-market rebound that’s on pace to add the most jobs in 15 years. Employment may be headed for a “breakout year” as companies feel more secure adding to payrolls following several years of demand rising only to stumble on threats from U.S. budget standoffs, a debt-ceiling induced default and a European credit crisis, said Marisa Di Natale, a director at Moody’s Analytics. Industries from construction to autos to oil and gas are increasing jobs as growth accelerates after a harsh winter stunted business. Help-wanted signs at concrete company Kent Cos. is one indication of a hiring rebound that could create more than 2.56 million jobs, the most since 1999, if the pace is sustained. Warren Buffett’s BNSF Railway plans to grow by 2,100 positions in 2014. SolarCity is adding 400 people a month at the rooftop power-system installer backed by Elon Musk. At Ford, hiring is so strong that the automaker predicts it may beat a 2011 plan to bring on 12,000 new workers by 2015.
Jeff VanderLaan, chief executive officer at Kent Cos., plans to add 100 people this year, a 27 percent jump in his workforce to a record 475. The Grand Rapids, Michigan-based provider of services such as pouring floors and installing piers is seeing business boom in Texas, North Carolina and Ohio. May employment growth was also driven by the oil and gas extraction industry at 7.6 percent and building construction at 5.2 percent. Outpatient care jumped 5.8 percent and motor vehicles and auto parts climbed 4.3 percent. The continued recovery in homebuilding is crucial for the job market, Di Natale said. Beyond the direct construction jobs, new homebuilding spurs purchases of carpets, flooring, lighting, appliances and furniture. Moody’s is forecasting job growth of 1.8 percent this year, which would be the highest rate since 2005, and for it to peak at 2.4 percent in 2016. Housing starts on an annual basis surpassed 1 million in May and April. They had declined to as low as 478,000 in April 2009, creating pent-up need for homes and apartments. The boom in technology has driven the unemployment rate below 1 percent in the industry. New financial regulations and requirements for the Affordable Care Act are also boosting demand for professionals, he said.
Washington Post: The White House says a more aggressive effort to nab deceptive government contractors and deceitful Medicare recipients is paying off – to the tune of billions of dollars.
The Obama administration plans to announce Tuesday that the Justice Department recovered more than $5.6 billion in fraud committed against the government in fiscal 2011. Almost $3.4 billion of the funds came in civil fraud recoveries, with more than $2.2 billion tied to criminal fraud, according to administration officials familiar with the announcement who were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
The announcement is tied to a Cabinet-level meeting to be held Tuesday regarding plans to cut wasteful government spending across federal agencies and departments.
Bloomberg: U.S. economic data are outperforming expectations by the most in nine months, a trend Federal Reserve officials may incorporate into their policy statement tomorrow.
The Citigroup Economic Surprise Index, a daily measure of whether economic data is better or worse than economists’ projections, improved to 85.7 on Dec. 2, the highest since March 9, after the Labor Department reported an unexpected drop in the jobless rate….
“Most of the economists are missing the underlying strength” in the world’s largest economy, said Joel Naroff, president of Naroff Economic Advisors. The Fed will “modestly upgrade the economic outlook but change little else.”
November unemployment at the lowest level in more than two years and manufacturing running at the fastest pace in five months are among data that may dissuade Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke and fellow central bankers from pursuing a third-round of large scale asset purchases. At the same time, the Fed may still see “significant downside risks” for the economy as Europe’s financial crisis evolves.
Business Insider: It didn’t get much attention, but this morning the latest NFIB small business optimism survey came in stronger than expected, as more and more corporations see good sales and decent business conditions on the way.
This is important, in part, since small businesses have been rather negative on the economy, even while large companies have reported record earnings.
Chicago Sun Times: President Barack Obama’s top strategist, David Axelrod, predicted much more scrutiny of GOP frontrunner Newt Gingrich, citing the “homespun wisdom” of Ald. Dick Mell (33rd) as he compared Gingrich to a monkey on a pole exposing his butt.
“…. Last week you all left him for dead at the checkout counter at Tiffany’s and now he’s back, a lion in winter,” Axelrod quipped. “That’s L-I-O-N by the way, I don’t want to stir up any trouble here.”
…. “In certain ways [Gingrich] fits the role for this, because as we pointed out earlier in the week he is the original tea partier. You know, he brought that kind of politics to Congress in the early 90s, he led three government shut downs in order to try and roll back environmental protection…roll back the Department of Education and education programs, he wanted to cut Medicare, he wanted to give more tax cuts to the wealthy. He was really a forerunner of what we see today.”
“I told my colleagues yesterday a bit of homespun wisdom that I got from an alderman in Chicago some years ago when one of his …colleagues wanted to run for higher office and he was really dubious. He said:
“Just remember the higher a monkey climbs on a pole, the more you can see his butt.”
So, you know, the Speaker is very high on the pole right now and we’ll see how people like the view.”
President Obama arrives to speak at a campaign event in Washington, Dec. 13
“If you stay steady, we’re going to win this thing …. This is going to be tough. But, I just want to remind all of you that you didn’t decide to support Barack Hussein Obama because it would be easy.”
Washington Jewish Week: When flames swept through Israel’s Carmel Forest last year, destroying dozens of homes and lives, President Barack Obama didn’t hesitate to help, said Michael Oren, the Israeli ambassador to the U.S….
…. Netanyahu directed his ambassador to, “Quick, go ask President Obama for help.”
That’s when Oren entered the White House and asked to see the president. “I told him the situation and without hesitation, President Obama turned to one of his aides and said, ‘get Israel whatever it needs. Now,’” Oren recalled.
….”America has 11 fire-fighting planes; the next morning, 8 of them took off for Israel, along with a team of fire-fighting commandos.” “Later that night,” Oren continued, “I learned, that the President left the Hanukkah reception and flew secretly to Afghanistan. Upon arriving, he called Washington and the first question he asked, ‘Has Israel gotten its planes?’”…..
A visitor looks at photographs taken during fieldwork in Indonesia by S. Ann Dunham, President Barack Obama’s late mother, during an exhibition at a gallery at the East West Center on the University of Hawaii at Manoa Campus, November 9
President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama talk with Irish President Mary McAleese and Dr. Martin McAleese during a courtesy call in the Drawing Room at the President’s residence in Dublin, Ireland, May 23, 2011
Oh, any excuse to take a trip down this memory lane:
Today is President Mary McAleese’s last day in office – she served 14 years (14!) as Irish president.
Sun Times: Today, in her keynote address to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Business Steps Up: Hiring our Heroes event, First Lady Michelle Obama announced that the International Franchise Association (IFA) which represents 1,100 franchises has committed to hiring 80,000 veterans and military spouses by 2014. 5,000 jobs of this commitment are promised to wounded warriors.
Mrs. Obama also announced that the Military Spouse Employment Partnership (MSEP) – which Dr. Jill Biden helped launch at the Chamber of Commerce last summer and which includes nearly 100 companies and organizations – has committed to employ 20,000 military spouses. These organizations include companies like Microsoft, Home Depot and Citi and franchises like UPS, Guidant Financial and Data Doctors. Together, the commitment by the International Franchise Association and the Military Spouse Employment Partnership represents a commitment to hire 100,000 veterans, wounded warriors and military spouses by 2014.
Statement by the President on the State Department’s Keystone XL Pipeline Announcement
November 10, 2011
I support the State Department’s announcement today regarding the need to seek additional information about the Keystone XL Pipeline proposal. Because this permit decision could affect the health and safety of the American people as well as the environment, and because a number of concerns have been raised through a public process, we should take the time to ensure that all questions are properly addressed and all the potential impacts are properly understood.
The final decision should be guided by an open, transparent process that is informed by the best available science and the voices of the American people. At the same time, my administration will build on the unprecedented progress we’ve made towards strengthening our nation’s energy security, from responsibly expanding domestic oil and gas production to nearly doubling the fuel efficiency of our cars and trucks, to continued progress in the development of a clean energy economy.
AP: Volkswagen opened a plant in Tennessee last month with 2,000 workers. Honda is hiring 1,000 in Indiana to meet demand for its best-selling Civic. General Motors is looking for 2,500 in Detroit to build the Chevy Volt.
Two years after the end of the Great Recession, the auto industry is hiring again – and much faster than the rest of the economy … The hiring spree is even more remarkable because memories of the U.S. auto industry’s near-death experience are fresh. In 2009, General Motors and Chrysler both got government bailouts and entered bankruptcy, and auto sales hit a 30-year low.
In June of that year, about 623,000 people were employed by the auto industry in the United States, the fewest since the early 1980s. Now the figure is almost 700,000, a 12 percent increase.
Sales are back up, too, and automakers are hiring by the thousands to meet increased demand.
…Besides hiring 2,000 people itself, Volkswagen figures the plant, where it will make its new Passat, will create 9,000 spin-off jobs in the region, including 500 at auto-supplier plants that are springing up nearby.
…. The auto gains have been widespread, with the Midwest the biggest beneficiary. In Ohio alone, auto manufacturing jobs have risen 31 percent the past two years, while parts makers in Michigan have added nearly 20,000 jobs …. Parts jobs are also up 15 percent in Alabama and in Kentucky…
… GM, Ford and Chrysler are all making money for the first time since the mid-2000s and adding workers to build popular models like the revamped Ford Explorer….
…Auto companies are racing to hire white-collar workers, too. Monster.com has more than 100 postings for auto engineers, including a handful for Hyundai and Subaru. Electric batteries, touch-screen dashboards and other technology are becoming more common, so automakers need engineers with expertise.
…”I really do believe that we are seeing a renaissance in the American automobile industry,” says James Brock, a professor of economics at Miami University.
4:0 The first family departs the White House en route Camp David
GOPolitico: The National Education Association’s executive director, John Wilson, said he’s prepared to invest resources and manpower to reelect President Obama … The 3.2 million-member organization has affiliate organizations in every state, and Wilson said it is prepared to spend at least $60 million to reelect Obama.
“Quite frankly, we don’t have the money the Koch brothers have, but one thing we do have is, we have boots on the ground,” Wilson said …. he sees fights between state governors like Wisconsin’s Scott Walker and Ohio’s John Kasich as opportunities for the group to reach its more than 1 million Republican members with the reelection message.
The budget debate in Washington, which the Obama administration has sought to frame starkly in terms of education investments instead of deep education cuts, has sharpened the contrast between Obama and his potential opponents, Wilson said.
“A lot of them in Ohio are saying that ‘the Republican Party has left me,’ ” Wilson said. “We think we’ll be able to move a lot of our members no matter what their party affiliation to understand that there is no better person for our issues – particularly for labor and civil rights – than this president.”….
TTNews: Daimler Trucks North America said it plans to sharply increase production and hire about 1,400 new workers at three truck plants, to meet higher demand …. the company will increase production at its Mt. Holly, N.C. and Portland, Ore., truck manufacturing plants in the last half of 2011.
….Daimler said it plans to add more than 1,230 employees to its manufacturing and administrative payroll at the three locations to accommodate rising customer demand, and will add about 120 shop and staff employees at its Gastonia, N.C., parts plant.
Company officials said the plans were in addition to the more than 1,300 positions filled in the at its truck and parts facilities in the first half of this year.
…Company officials said employment at its Cleveland, N.C., truck plant expanded significantly last year and jumped again in May, as part of the 1,300 position expansion DTNA announced earlier this year.
NYT: American companies say they plan to hire. If they do as they say, the unemployment picture will brighten considerably.
In a quarterly survey of chief executives, the Business Roundtable found that 52 percent of companies planned to hire workers in the United States over the next six months, while just 11 percent said they expected to reduce employment.
Never before have so many chief executives said they planned to hire, or so few said they planned to cut payrolls. The survey has been taken every three months since late 2002.
The Business Roundtable includes chief executives of 200 major American companies. If most of them did add workers, that would almost certainly have a substantial effect on employment in the country. Two other broader surveys of companies are taken each month by the Institute for Supply Management. Its survey of manufacturers has been showing more companies planning to increase employment than reduce it since the fall of 2009, and indeed manufacturing employment rose in 2010 for the first full year since 1997, according to the Labor Department.
….In response to another question, 92 percent of the chief executives said they expected increases in sales for their companies, while none said they expected a decline. It was the first time that none of the executives thought sales would decline.
Bloomberg: Optimism among U.S. chief executive officers surpassed the highest level reached before the recession as more business leaders projected increased sales, investment and hiring, a survey showed.
The Business Roundtable’s economic outlook index increased to 113 in the first quarter, the highest point since records began in 2002 … Readings greater than 50 coincide with an economic expansion. The previous peak was 104 in the first three months of 2005.
“Companies have given strong signals about their willingness to expand,” said Ivan Seidenberg, chairman of the Business Roundtable. “As we keep a steady flow of capital investment, we’ll certainly see sales forecasts go up, and as we do that we’ll start to see hiring.”
None of the 142 CEOs surveyed said they expected a decline in sales in the next six months, and 92 percent projected an increase, paving the way for more hiring and investment in equipment. A gain in capital spending plans points to further strength in manufacturing, the industry that’s propelled the economic expansion.
…Fifty-two percent of CEOs said they will add to payrolls, up from 45 percent in the fourth quarter and the largest share on record. Some 62 percent said they plan to spend more on equipment, up from 59 percent.
The business leaders’ forecast supports March employment data. Companies in the U.S. added 201,000 workers this month after a revised 208,000 gain in February…