Job Outlook Picks Up in 2011

Economists are raising their forecasts for employment growth in 2011, as various job readings are suggesting that the long-awaited hiring boom is arriving or is just around the corner, CNN reported.

“It’s about time,” economist Robert Brusca of FAO Economics told CNN.

This Friday, the monthly employment report from the Department of Labor, will give a better indication of how many jobs were added to payrolls last month.

“There’s a lot of reason to think we could get a big number for December,” Brusca said, adding she predicted 300,000 jobs for December.

Economists surveyed by CNNMoney are predicting a gain of 150,000 jobs—a huge jump from the 39,000 jobs added in November. The economists also predicted a higher number—to just more than 60,000 new jobs. Wells Fargo Securities is forecasting a gain of 156,000 jobs in December, and November’s gain to be revised up to 100,000.

The four-week moving average of those filing for first-time unemployment benefits fell to the lowest level in more than two years in the most recent reading. Then, on Wednesday, a report showed 297,000 private sector jobs were added in December, according to payroll services firm Automatic Data Processing (ADP)—the largest gain since it began tracking jobs in 2000, CNN reported.

What’s more, job placement firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas reported only 32,004 job cuts announced in December, the lowest number since 2000. Other signs from strong holiday sales to increased demand for autos have many feeling optimistic.

December same-store sales increased 3.1%, bringing holiday sales back above pre-recession levels. And U.S. auto sales rose 11% in December—the strongest quarter of sales since the fall of 2008 when the financial crisis took hold.

Small businesses also are hiring again with about seven out of eight jobs added in the ADP report came from small and medium-sized companies.

Despite the good news, unemployment isn’t about to disappear. CNNMoney‘s survey forecasts a 9.7% unemployment rate in December, down only slightly from the 9.8% reading in November. The improved labor market could keep that number relatively high even as hiring picks up, as long-term jobless not counted among the unemployed start seeking work once again, CNN reported.

Economists, however noted the key figure to watch is the number of jobs being added, not the unemployment rate.

7ads6x98ycss.php