Economists see slower hiring, despite skilled-labor need

Oct. 21, 2013 at 12:01 AM
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WASHINGTON, Oct. 21 (UPI) -- Hiring has slowed among U.S. companies, even though skilled labor is employers' most common shortage, a survey of business economists released Monday indicated.

Just 27 percent of companies said their hiring was up in the summer quarter, down from 29 percent in the spring, the National Association for Business Economics survey showed. By contrast, the percentage reporting a hiring increase in 2012's summer quarter.was 18 percent, the quarterly Industry Survey showed.

Sixty-two percent of participating NABE members said their payrolls remained unchanged in July, August and September, while 12 percent said their hiring fell. In the spring quarter those two hiring percentages were reported as 60 percent steady and 11 percent falling.

At the same time, skilled labor was the most common employer shortage, cited by 25 percent of respondents, the survey found. Sixty-seven percent said they had no shortages.

The results indicated the skilled-labor shortage wasn't as great as it had been three months earlier, when 33 percent said skilled labor was their biggest shortage.

For the first time in two quarters, unskilled labor was mentioned by 3 percent of respondents as the biggest shortage, up from zero in the spring survey, released in July, and 2 percent in April, but equal to the year-ago percentage, the survey found.

Looking forward, 37 percent said they expected their firms to expand payrolls in the next six months, down from 39 percent who said this in July but up from the 28 percent who said this a year ago.

Fifty-three percent said they expected their firms' employment to remain unchanged over the next two quarters, similar to results all this year, while 10 percent said they expected payrolls to decline.

Five percent said they anticipate the decline will come through attrition, while 5 percent said they expected layoffs.

Members of the NABE finance, insurance and real estate sector expected the greatest employment growth, followed by services, goods producers, and transportation, utilities, information and communications.

Concerning the Affordable Care Act, 81 percent reported no employment changes over the summer as respondents' companies geared up for the healthcare law's new provisions, some of which went into effect Oct. 1.

About 18 percent reported a "negative effect" and some 2 percent reported a "positive effect."

The Obama administration said July 2 it would delay until 2015 the so-called employer mandate, which requires companies with at least 50 employees to provide affordable health insurance to workers or pay a penalty.

A smaller majority of 76 percent respondents to the NABE survey said they expected no employment changes over the next 12 months due to the health law, sometimes called "Obamacare," with 22 percent anticipating a negative effect and 2 percent expecting a positive effect.

Sixty NABE members -- business economists and others who use economics in the workplace -- participated in the business-conditions survey, conducted from Sept. 16 to Oct. 1. The survey is not a random sampling intended to represent an entire population and NABE reported no margin of error.

Topics: Barack Obama
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