The economy is having a shaky recovery, as the high price of oil coupled with the price of energy and raw materials threatens to overshadow the U.S. Department of Labor’s announcement that the unemployment rate fell to its lowest level in nearly two years.
Higher energy prices sent stocks lower Friday, despite news that the U.S. job market is improving. The Labor Department reported that that unemployment fell to 8.9 percent in February from 9 percent in January, making it the third straight drop for three months in a row, and the lowest level since April 2009.
Christina Bristow, regional operations manager for Adecco Staffing in Michigan told Staffing Talk today she has seen huge upswings in the numbers of manufacturing employers who are hiring.
“For the first time in a long time, we are in competition with other companies, because workers are getting multiple offers from different companies,” Bristow said.
“There are still a lot of people looking for work, but they are mostly people more on the lower skill level,” she continued. “But the skilled machinist, for example, is having multiple job offers.”
On the heels of the announcement that US manufacturing is expanding at its fastest pace in seven years, employers added 192,000 jobs in February. Factories, professional and business services, education and health care were sectors doing the most hiring, while retailers trimmed jobs. State and local governments feeling the budget squeeze slashed 30,000 jobs, the most since November.
While it’s expected companies will be watching the latest figures on energy costs and raw materials closely over the next few weeks, it’s also unlikely that hiring will remain dormant in March.
“Sustained expansionary trends in private sector hiring coupled with growing consumer confidence have led to positive (year-over-year) growth in the index,” reported Jesse Harriott, senior vice president at Monster Worldwide. “Although index growth has eased since the early summer peak of 2010 in part to a decline in public sector activity, it has been positive year-over-year since February 2010 as employers continue to maintain a measured approach to growth.”
U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis issued a statement Friday saying she feels very good about where the nation is heading. “There is no doubt that the economy we preside over today is better than it was two years ago. An economy that was once shrinking is now growing again.”