Share This Page

Job market resilient despite federal budget battle

| Friday, Jan. 4, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

WASHINGTON — The job market showed resilience in three reports on Thursday, suggesting it might withstand a federal budget battle that threatens more economic uncertainty in coming months.

A survey showed private hiring increased last month, while layoffs declined and applications for unemployment benefits stayed near a four-year low. The data led some economists to raise their forecasts for December job growth one day before the government releases its closely watched employment report.

“The job market held firm in December despite the intensifying fiscal cliff negotiations,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics. “Businesses even became somewhat more aggressive in their hiring at year end.”

The most encouraging sign came from payroll provider ADP. Its monthly employment survey showed businesses added 215,000 jobs last month, the most in 10 months and much higher than November's total of 148,000.

Economists tend to approach the ADP survey with some skepticism because it has diverged sharply at times from government figures. The Labor Department releases its employment report on Friday. Most expect the report will show employers added 150,000 jobs last month.

and the unemployment rate stayed at 7.7 percent.

Some economists saw potential for stronger gains after seeing Thursday's data.

Joseph LaVorgna, chief U.S. economist at Deutsche Bank, raised his forecast for job growth in December to 190,000 jobs, up from 150,000.

Credit Suisse increased its forecast to 185,000, up from 165,000.

“Given that we have restraints, the labor market data do appear to be improving,” said Dana Saporta, an economist at Credit Suisse.

Still, many economists remain cautious about where the job market is headed.

While Congress and the White House reached a deal this week that removed the threat of tax increases for most Americans, they postponed the more difficult decisions on cutting spending.

And the government must increase its $16.4 trillion borrowing limit by late February or risk defaulting on its debt.

The economy has added about 150,000 jobs a month, on average, over the past two years. That's too few to rapidly lower the unemployment rate.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.