Economists See Job Market Improving


It’s Monday, so we might as well engage in some cautious optimism. According to a survey of The National Association for Business Economics, an industry group, more than a third of the companies in this country will likely add more employees in the next six months and the economy will continue to grow through the end of this year.

The survey, which was released today, polled 84 economists about the state of the U.S. financial recovery. The economists, each of whom work with private firms, reported that 31% of their companies increased payrolls last quarter compared to just 6% this time last year. And they expect that this trend will only continue in the coming months.

According to the report, “The percentage of firms cutting jobs continued to move lower—from 36% a year ago to 14% this July. The share of respondents who expect their firms to add employees over the coming six months rose to 39%, the highest level of hiring intentions since January 2008.”

Two-thirds of the economists surveyed predicted that the economy will expand by more than 2% in the next six months, which is encouraging since they also indicated that U.S. companies will base their hiring decisions on whether or not the U.S. economy grows. That said, fewer economists are expecting a growth of 3% or more than last year.

These projections, while far from stupendous, are still a stark contrast to the dismal outlook that many economists have had recently. As we reported earlier this month, more experts are starting to speculate that our economy is entering a depression. It’s hard to square these two views.

I’m tempted to agree with Newsweek columnist Robert J. Samuelson’s analysis on whether economists really know what they’re talking about. “We may be reaching the limits of economics,” he wrote. “Economics has become the shaky science; its intellectual chaos provides context for today's policy disputes at home and abroad.”

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