Editorial: Upbeat signs worth noting

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Looking for encouraging signs about the economy? Here are a few: Jobs: Manpower Inc.ís quarterly survey of U.S. employers found them optimistic about hiring plans. Some 20 percent of the more than 18,000 employers surveyed expected to increase staff size in the third quarter of this year. Thatís the good news. Unfortunately, this marks the seventh straight quarter of positive reports from the Manpower survey ó with the jobless recovery still going strong. Manpower and others who have surveyed CEOs warn that job growth will be slow. ěAlthough employers are not signaling dramatic upswings in hiring plans, there does seem to be hiring energy developing based on sustained year-over-year growth,î said Manpower Americas region president Jonas Prising, according to the Wall Street Journal. Thatís better than going backwards.
Prices: Wholesale food prices dropped last month by the most in a year, the Associated Press reports, and gasoline prices also appear to be headed downward this summer. Itís not that gasoline prices are great; weíre still paying more for gasoline than we were a year ago. But the national average has dropped from $4 a gallon to $3.70. Any bit of good news is welcome. The Dow industrials rose 123 points on Tuesday, some say because retail-sales report was not as bad as economists had expected.
Listening: President Obama pledged during a visit to North Carolina Monday to find ways to accelerate job growth. Actions speak louder than words, but the president is going through some of the right motions ó such as hearing from the Jobs and Competitiveness Council, a group of high-powered business leaders that recommended steps to create a million jobs over the next two years. Do a better job of working with community colleges and vocational schools to train workers. Graduate 10,000 more engineers each year. Streamline permitting for construction and infrastructure projects. Boost tourism by making it easier to visit the U.S. through improved visa processes. Help small-business owners gain access to Small Business Administration money. Put construction workers to work making buildings more energy-efficient. Allow more engineers and entrepreneurs to enter the country.
Now, letís see what happens.