Tue, Jul 18, 2017 - Page 10 News List

US companies face hiring difficulties: business survey

AFP, WASHINGTON

A growing share of US employers are struggling to hire new workers and some have raised wages as a result, a survey released yesterday found.

The National Association of Business Economists (NABE) said its quarterly survey showed members were a little less sanguine about the prospects for strong economic expansion over the next year, although most still expect sustained quarterly growth of better than 2 percent

With unemployment already very low, anecdotal reports indicate employers across the nation are struggling to fill open positions and have been obliged to boost compensation to lure in new candidates.

However, official figures show only sluggish wage growth and weak inflation — with average hourly earnings disappointingly up less than 0.2 percent last month — something that has puzzled policymakers at the Federal Reserve, although it has not yet prompted them to alter their course of gradual interest rate increases.

“Slightly over one-third of panelists reports that their firms have experienced some difficulty in hiring,” NABE survey chair Emily Kolinski said in a statement.

The survey of 101 association members showed rising sales, profits, hiring and capital spending.

However, “pricing power — or lack of it — and labor costs are generating some headwinds for a significant number of firms,” she said.

The share of firms reporting increased wages rose 8 points from April to 47 percent, but expectations that wages will keep rising over the next three months rose only three points, also to 47 percent.

Half of firms reported gains in sales, up from 45 percent in April. About 60 percent of respondents said they expected GDP to expand by more than 2 percent over the next four quarters, but the share foreseeing growth under 2 percent rose 8 points to 38 percent.

Kolinski, chief economist at Ford Motor Co, said firms have not changed course on hiring and investment decisions based on any hope of stimulus from US President Donald Trump’s administration, which has vowed to slash taxes and regulation.

And just 12 percent said it was likely they would revisit long-term strategies in light of Trump’s decision to withdraw from the 2015 Paris Climate accord, while 50 percent said this was unlikely.

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