S everal recent government reports show that the U.S. economy ended 2011 on a modest note of encouragement. In its release on the December employment situation, the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed the rate of unemployment declining from 9.1% in August to 8.5% in December.i

While the overall improvement is small, the trend was consistent over four months. This raises hope that U.S. economic activity is finally creating new jobs at a rate that will slowly reduce persistent high unemployment.

The Department of Commerce report on the Gross Domestic Product in the fourth quarter of 2011 is similarly a source of cautious optimism.ii While the full year level of economic growth was a weak 1.7%, the picture brightened throughout the 2011:

iqndex-table-4q2011

Signals of economic improvement may be consistent, but they have yet to gather the strength and momentum to impact overall temporary labor bill rates. The Master IQNdex (download now!) tells the story: aggregate temp labor prices were steady in the second half of 2011. The net change over this period was less than half a percent.

IQNdex_Master

If economic expansion continues in 2012 and the ranks of the unemployed shrinks, there will likely be upward pressure on temporary labor bill rates as the pool of readily available workers grows smaller. The modest improvements in growth and unemployment so far, however, have yet to impact rates beyond a few high skill roles in technology and finance.

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i. (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012)
ii. (U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Economic Analysis)

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2012, January 6). Bureau of Labor Statistics News Releases. Retrieved January 29, 2012, from U.S. Department of Labor – Bureau of Labor Statistics: http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/empsit.pdf

U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Economic Analysis. (2012, January 27). Economics & Statistics Administration – Newsroom. Retrieved January 29, 2012, from U.S. Department of Commerce: http://www.esa.doc.gov/sites/default/files/ei/documents/2012/January/grossdomesticproductfourthquarterandannual2011.pdf

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