The Norman Transcript

Nation/World

October 23, 2013

Will hiring accelerate if economy doesn’t?

WASHINGTON — The uncertainty and weakness that hung over the U.S. job market in September before the government shut down aren’t going away.

Employers will likely remain slow to hire as long as the economy struggles to accelerate, consumers limit their spending and Congress keeps putting off a resolution to a budget fight that will resurface early next year.

Just a few months ago, many economists predicted that hiring would pick up by year’s end as the effects of tax increases and government spending cuts that kicked in this year faded.

No longer. The September jobs report made clear that hiring isn’t strengthening. It’s slowing.

Employers last month added 148,000 jobs, a steep drop from the 193,000 gained in August. From January through March, job growth averaged 207,000 jobs a month. For April through June, the average was 182,000. For July through September, it was just 143,000.

“We had assumed that the headwinds would dissipate, but in fact they didn’t,” says Doug Handler, an economist at IHS Global Insight.

What’s more, the 16-day partial shutdown of the government, which began Oct. 1, will likely further depress hiring for October. That’s because government contractors and other companies affected by the shutdown imposed temporary layoffs.

And the budget battles that led to the shutdown are likely to flare up later this year and in early 2014. Last week, Congress agreed to keep the government running only until Jan. 15 while President Barack Obama and Congress seek a broader budget agreement.

In the meantime, uncertainty about another budget impasse — and potentially another government shutdown — may cause some businesses to hold off on hiring or expanding.

“Companies are not feeling confident enough to expand, to hire, to invest,” said Yelena Shulyatyeva, an economist at BNP Paribas. “They’re just sitting on the sidelines, being cautious, and watching all these headlines from Washington.”

Consider Patrick Shrader, vice president of Arundel Manufacturing, based near Portland, Maine. Shrader said the uncertainty and brinkmanship in Washington have led his company to postpone hiring.

“As soon as we think the dust is settled, and we’re ready to move forward, there’s something else,” he said.

Arundel makes precision metal components for oil and gas drilling equipment, aircraft and semiconductor manufacturers. Defense contracts make up about one-fifth of business.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Nation/World
  • India landslide kills 21

    NEW DELHI — Rescuers worked in rain today to dig through a remote village in western India where at least 21 people died as a landslide swept away scores of houses, possibly trapping many more people under debris, officials said....

    July 31, 2014

  • Israeli strike hits UN school

    GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Israeli artillery shells tore through the walls of a U.N. school crowded with sleeping war refugees and back-to-back explosions rocked a market filled with shoppers Wednesday as Israel’s stepped up campaign against ...

    July 31, 2014

  • Busted water main dumps 20 million gallons of water into UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion and adjacent garage

    LOS ANGELES — The rupture of a nearly century-old water main that ripped a 15-foot hole through Sunset Boulevard and turned a swath of the University of California, Los Angeles into a mucky mess points to the risks and expense many cities ...

    July 31, 2014

  • GOP-led House gives go-ahead for suit

    WASHINGTON — A sharply divided House approved a Republican plan Wednesday to launch a campaign-season lawsuit against President Barack Obama, accusing him of exceeding the bounds of his constitutional authority. Just a day before ...

    July 31, 2014

  • Senate approves new VA secretary

    WASHINGTON — The Senate on Tuesday unanimously confirmed former Procter & Gamble CEO Robert McDonald as the new Veterans Affairs secretary, with a mission to overhaul an agency beleaguered by long veterans’ waits for health care and VA ...

    July 30, 2014

  • Senate passes highway bill, sends it to House

    WASHINGTON — The Senate on Tuesday voted to change the funding and timing of a House bill to keep federal highway funds flowing to states in an effort to force Congress to come to grips with chronic funding problems that have plagued ...

    July 30, 2014

  • Israel targets Hamas infrastructures in latest round of bombing

    GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Israel unleashed its heaviest bombardment in a 3-week-old war against Hamas on Tuesday, striking symbols of the militant group’s control in Gaza and firing tank shells that Palestinian officials said shut down the ...

    July 30, 2014

  • Be ready for ‘prolonged’ Gaza war, prime minister says

    GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Signaling an escalation of Israel’s Gaza operation, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Israelis Monday to be ready for a “prolonged” war, and the military warned Palestinians in three large neighborhoods to ...

    July 29, 2014

  • Deal to improve health care costs $17B

    WASHINGTON — A bipartisan deal announced Monday would authorize about $17 billion to help veterans avoid long waits for health care, hire more doctors and nurses to treat veterans and make it easier to fire executives at the Department of ...

    July 29, 2014

  • FedEx charges raising online pharmacy issues

    SAN FRANCISCO — FedEx Corp., the latest company accused in a federal probe involving illegal online pharmacies, says it will fight the charges that it knowingly shipped drugs to people who lack valid prescriptions....

    July 27, 2014