The U.S. economy seems to be on the rebound following a December to forget.
The United States added 113,000 jobs in January and 175,000 jobs in February, marking a marginal change in the unemployment rate over the course of that time, which held steady between 6.6 and 6.7 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Tomorrow, BLS will publish its employment summary for the month of March, ostensibly providing the encapsulation of Q1. It will be interesting to see which way the needle moves in this telling report.
It’s plain to see this harsh winter stunted the potential for large-scale economic growth, but as the United States finally moves into the spring thaw, we could finally begin to see upticks in hiring. While the onset of spring is bound to create some part-time/ seasonal jobs, the larger sectors will continue to be the true indicators of any real improvement in the economy.
Automatic Data Processing, a payroll company which publishes a monthly economic report on the private sector, reported Wednesday that private sector employment increased by 191,000 jobs in March, making it the best month of the first quarter in terms of jobs growth.
Transportation riding a wave
President Barack Obama, early in March, unveiled a four-year $302 billion transportation infrastructure plan as part of his fiscal year 2015 budget. The plan would bolster job growth in this sector, which plays into manufacturing as well. While this plan is in its nascent stages, it will be interesting to see if the ambitious proposed spending instilled renewed confidence — and hiring — in this sector.
Subsequently, transportation jobs, which usually act as a solid indicator of economic activity, are on the rise. Not only is this category hiring currently, it has also markedly improved from last year.
The most in demand jobs within transportation and material moving include: heavy and tractor-trailer Truck drivers; light truck or delivery services drivers; driver/sales workers; laborers and freight, stock, and material movers; supervisors of transportation and material-moving machine and vehicle operators and industrial truck and tractor operators.
Focus is still on manufacturing
The manufacturing industry showed some fight in December 2013 and January 2014, with job additions of 9,000 and 21,000, respectively. This sector stagnated in February 2014, but with a strong March, this industry, typically a solid indicator of overall U.S. economic growth, could reveal it had a terrific first quarter.
At least one study points to the reason for good growth in this industry going forward: inexpensive natural gas. The U.S. Conference of Mayors’ Advanced Manufacturing Task Force unveiled a report in March titled “Impact of the Manufacturing Renaissance from Energy Intensive Sources,” which attributes the spike in manufacturing jobs of late to the new availability of inexpensive natural gas. The report, which was prepared by IHS Global Insight, a global information company, goes on to say that manufacturing job growth is expected to follow specifically in major U.S. cities.
The manufacturing industry is currently hiring for a variety of occupations across the country. The key in demand categories are: industrial engineers; supervisors of production and operating workers; sales representatives and managers; maintenance and repair workers and accountants in cities such as Houston; Chicago; Atlanta; Milwaukee and San Francisco.
Housing market recovery softens, but it’s only temporary
Two years of good growth in the housing market stalled out during the first two months of 2014 with declines in construction activity of 11.2 percent in January and 0.2 percent in February, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Winter weather is likely to blame for the decline in housing starts; and housing industry prognosticators feel this should begin to trend upward again which will translate to more construction jobs. The U.S. Department of Urban Development will release its March data around new construction mid-April, but a look at construction jobs in tomorrow’s BLS release could serve as an indicator on whether this fluky downturn was indeed due to a harsh U.S. winter or if there’s something else at play here.
Despite experiencing a decline in job growth in December 2013, construction has rebounded quite nicely in January and February of 2014 with additions of 48,000 and 15,000 jobs, respectively.
Supervisors of construction workers; construction carpenters; electricians; construction laborers; plumbers; operating engineers and other construction equipment operators have made gains recently.
Job hope springs eternal
It’s plain to see winter weather wreaked havoc on a variety of industries, but March wasn’t nearly the month January or February were in terms of winter weather across the United States.
Spring tends to bring with it a slew of temporary and part time jobs due to the need among businesses to fill the once-hibernating portions of their operations. Seasonal retail and hospitality are the industries that tend toward this trend come spring months.
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