Forecasters see more job losses ahead
WASHINGTON - It's shaping up to be another lousy year for workers, with more companies expecting to cut payrolls in the months ahead.
That's part of the latest outlook from forecasters in a survey to be released today by the National Association for Business Economics. It depicts the worst US business conditions since the report's inception in 1982.
Thirty-nine percent predicted job reductions through attrition or "significant" layoffs over the next six months, up from 32 percent in the October survey. About 45 percent anticipated no change in hiring plans, while roughly 17 percent thought hiring would increase.
The recession, which started in December 2007 and is expected to stretch into this year, has been a job killer. The economy lost 2.6 million jobs last year, the most since 1945. The US unemployment rate jumped to 7.2 percent in December, the highest in 16 years.
"Job losses accelerated in the fourth quarter, and the employment outlook for the next six months has weakened further," said Sara Johnson, NABE's lead analyst on the survey and an economist at IHS Global Insight.
Also in the survey, 52 percent said they expected gross domestic product to fall by more than 1 percent this year. GDP measures the value of all goods and services produced within the United States and is the best barometer of the country's economic fitness. The last time GDP fell for a full year was in 1991, a tiny 0.2 percent dip. The economy shrank by 1.9 percent in 1982, when the country was suffering through a severe recession.
In the October survey, no forecaster thought GDP would fall by more than 1 percent.