PhillyInc: More surveys show expectations for higher job growth

Posted: February 14, 2012

More surveys, more expectations of higher U.S. job growth in 2012.

On Friday, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia released its quarterly Survey of Professional Forecasters, in which 45 economists foresee a stronger labor market this year.

The unemployment rate for 2012 is expected to be 8.3 percent, down from the 8.8 percent foreseen in the last survey. Normally, I'd say that was headed in the right direction.

However, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics already reported the jobless rate at 8.3 percent for January, suggesting the rate could end the year where it started.

Those the Fed surveyed expect monthly job creation of 144,100 in 2012 and 162,900 in 2013. Again, it's a promising trend, but the level remains well below what's needed to bring the unemployment rate down substantially.

Another survey released last week by First Niagara Financial Group found that more private businesses in Pennsylvania expected to hire workers in 2012 than in previous years and that their managers were more optimistic than not.

First Niagara, which acquired the regional bank holding company Harleysville National Corp. in 2010, has been surveying Pennsylvania businesses for the last three years. This year, the survey of 865 CEOs, chief financial officers, and other senior managers has 30 percent reporting plans to expand their workforces, compared with 25 percent in 2011 and 21 percent in 2010.

Of course, that means 61 percent said they expected to keep the size of their workforces frozen, and 9 percent to cut their workforces.

Businesspeople are always telling me that higher sales are the real key to job growth. The First Niagara survey said 46 percent of respondents expected revenue to grow in 2012 - the same percentage as in 2011 - while 20 percent expected revenue to fall.

To me, actions carry more weight than surveys. But confidence and expectations are important. Even if their optimism continues to require the adjective cautious, businesspeople do seem more inclined to act in 2012 than they did in 2011.

   


Contact Mike Armstrong at 215-854-2980, marmstrong@phillynews.com, or @PhillyInc on Twitter. Read his blog, "PhillyInc," at www.phillyinc.biz.

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