Employers shun fiscal cliff crisis and continue to hire

U.S. employers added 155,000 jobs in December, as the national unemployment rate remained at 7.8 percent, the Labor Department announced.

The rate for November was revised up from an initially reported 7.7 percent. The government also said hiring was stronger in the previous month than first thought. November’s job gains were revised up 15,000 to 161,000.

The “gain is perhaps better than it looks given that firms were probably nervous about adding workers with the fiscal cliff looming,” Paul Ashworth, an economist at Capital Economics, told The Associated Press.

Robust hiring in manufacturing and construction fueled the job gains in December. Manufacturers added 25,000 jobs, the most in nine months.

Professional and business services, which include technology, management and architectural firms, gained 19,000 jobs. Financial services added 9,000 jobs, and health care added 55,000 jobs.

All of the job gains in December came from private employers. Governments shed 13,000 jobs, mostly in local school systems.

In response to the latest jobs report, Milwaukee-based ManpowerGroup today said U.S. companies must build up the right business leaders needed to strategically evolve their business across fast-changing industries and regional economies, as the world’s talent shortage ensues and the risk linked to business decisions in today’s economy intensifies.

“Developing leaders who can navigate volatility and build the flexible workforce needed to fulfill a business strategy is too often, today, just a concept versus a top priority for executive teams,” said Jeffrey Joerres, ManpowerGroup chairman and chief executive officer. “The unpredictable nature of today’s economy is forcing all business leaders to make quick, yet carefully vetted decisions. All business leaders must think very critically about the complex decision-making skills required by their executive teams in the Human Age.”

According to ManpowerGroup’s 2012 Talent Shortage Survey results, 49 percent of U.S. employers struggle to fill mission-critical positions. Despite this statistic, a substantial proportion of employers indicate unfilled positions are expected to have little or no impact on key constituents, such as customers and investors; this proportion grew from 36 percent in 2011 to 56 percent in 2012.

Optimism among U.S. hiring decision makers continues to improve, according to the Manpower Employment Outlook Survey’s new U.S. results. When seasonal variations are removed from the data, the Net Employment Outlook for first quarter of 2013 is +12 percent, a 1 percentage point increase from the  fourth quarter of 2012 and slightly elevated from +9 percent during the same period last year. This quarter’s research concludes that this quarter is the strongest first quarter data collected since 2008, and is significantly stronger than the weakest first quarter Outlook in the history of the survey, reported in 2010.

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