Story URL: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=181311
Story Retrieval Date: 6/20/2013 4:37:15 AM CST
Harris Interactive Inc./Moran Zhang/MEDILL
For the second month in a row, almost one-third of Americans are expecting better job market conditions in the next six months, according to the Harris Poll. But people in Chicago remain doubtful.
Among more than 3,000 adults surveyed online by Harris Interactive Inc., 31 percent expect the job market in their region will be better in the next six months while half of Americans said it will remain the same. One in five said it will be worse. This is virtually unchanged since January. But half a year ago, only one in five Americans surveyed expressed confidence in the future job market.
Strong economic growth is essential to lift hiring, and growth so far has been nothing to brag about.
According to the January meeting minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee, Fed policy makers expressed optimism about the U.S. economy but were dissatisfied with the tepid pace of job creation. That led to the decision to continue the $600 billion purchase of Treasury securities, a program commonly known as QE2, until the planned expiration date in June.
“I’m looking for a stagnant or even pulled-back job market,” said John Nicholas, a trader working in Chicago. “I think that with QE2 ending in June, there will not be a self-sustaining momentum in businesses.”
Nicholas said he is fortunate to be in the trading business, which has been picking up. And his current situation is better than it was a year ago.
“However, I think the job market is worse in regard that people are settling for less,” Nicolas said.
Marie Horray, a 54-year-old Postal Service worker, expressed her worries about the labor market: “I don’t think the job market will improve in the next six months, but I pray it does.”
The labor force has not grown for several months, and an increase is likely in February or in the near term, said Asha Bangalore, senior vice president and economist at the Northern Trust Corp.
“If hiring fails to match the increase in the labor force, a higher unemployment rate should follow,” Bangalore said.
Bangalore projects the U.S. real gross domestic product will rise 3.5 percent in 2011 based on the annualized fourth-quarter growth rate. And the unemployment rate will move down to 8.5 percent by the end of 2011, from 9.0 percent in January.
Renee McClendon, a 54-year-old technology support analyst, believes things will eventually pick up because businesses are now forced to rethink their strategies.
“But six months is a very short span of time,” McClendon said. “I’m not sure things will improve in six months.”
In the long run, education plays a significant role in the development of employability, workforce experts say.
McClendon thinks that students today need to major in areas that are marketable. However passion plays a part.
“You definitely have to be creative, because the student who wants to be a writer may not find the job market like it used to be,” McClendon said.
McClendon also thinks that the government needs to be more supportive in terms of education.
“Our educational system is very dependent on the students taking out loans, working part-time, or having their parents pay for them,” said McClendon. “That’s not very helpful.”
Kristen Poggensee, a 22-year-old recent college graduate, just got a job in the banking business.
“I don’t know if the job market will be better in the next six months,” Poggensee said. “But I know that my company is posting a lot more openings now compared with when I was looking for jobs.”
However, Poggensee is also concerned about whether the educational system is really preparing graduates for the workforce.
“I just graduated, but I felt I really learned nothing in school, but learned everything on the job.” Poggensee said. “And education costs keep going up every year.”
The February unemployment rate will be released Friday morning. The market expects a 0.1 percent increase, to 9.1 percent, according to Yahoo Finance.