US firms add jobs but economy shows signs of slowing down

 
Tim Wallace
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JOB VACANCIES increased in the US in February, official figures showed yesterday, indicating the economy is continuing to grow.

However, the pace of growth remains steady, rather than rapid. Small businesses reported their first fall in confidence in six months in March, fearing weak demand over the next six months.

Labor Department figures showed 3.5m job openings were available in February – up from 3.48m in January, while recruitment volumes were the highest since October 2008.

The national federation of independent businesses’ (NFIB) optimism index dropped to 92.5 last month from 94.3 in February.

This suggests growth in the first quarter was slower than the three per cent seen at the end of 2011.

Business owners were pessimistic about sales, profits and credit, but the number of new workers per firm hit its highest in a year.

“It looks like a replay of 2011, a few months look good early on, then it fades,” said NFIB economist William Dunkelberg. “GDP growth in the first quarter is not going to live up to fourth-quarter GDP.”