It's time for good news. The country added 200,000 jobs last month, according to government data. And it may create 1.7 million jobs this coming year, according to economists' estimates compiled by Blue Chip Economic Indicators. And manufacturing, one of the most weakened sectors of our economy, has recently sprung to life.
Bloomberg Businesweek published a list Friday of companies hiring that read like a dispatch from a different time. Boeing Co. took on 10,000 new employees last year, and is bringing in more than 100 new union machinists a week. Chrysler Group LLC has 1,100 openings at its Detroit factory. Nissan Motor Co. had 1,000 new hires at its lithium-ion battery plant in Tennessee, and Spirit AeroSystems Holdings Inc. also had 1,000 new hires, just like last year. BMW, meanwhile, is expanding its South Carolina plant by 300 employees.
Manufacturers are ramping up production as demand -- dormant in the last few years -- has begun to stir. Businesses have long cited low demand as the central reason they're not hiring. But with employment picking up, there's more money circulating. More money to spend on stuff that requires more people to make.
Car manufacturers are also enjoying a boom in Russia, reports the Detroit Free Press. Last year, Ford reported a 30 percent increase in sales in a country notorious for its traffic congestion.
Retail is up too, as is health care, and the leisure and hospitality sectors. The joblessness rate fell to 8.5 percent in December. And 84 economists surveyed by Bloomberg estimated a median 2.3 percent expansion of the U.S. economy in the coming year.
But even if the economy does gain 1.7 million jobs this year -- an average of 142,000 jobs a month -- it would take a number of years to replace the 8.7 million jobs lost in 2008 and 2009. But at least it appears the economy has made a start toward accomplishing that.
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