Business hiring in U.S. allays concern on fiscal cliff

‘More Comfortable’

“Rising home prices have caused many homeowners to once again feel more comfortable with their net worth, which in turn fuels the economy’s expansion, which then spurs greater demand for housing,” Robert Toll, chairman of the Horsham, Pennsylvania-based company, said in an Aug. 22 conference call with analysts.

Stocks fell today as European finance ministers prepared to meet to discuss the region’s debt crisis. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fell 0.3 percent to 1,456.67 at 10:56 a.m. in New York. The benchmark index increased 1.4 percent last week as U.S. economic reports topped estimates.

Growth in developing East Asia, which excludes Japan and India, will probably ease to 7.2 percent this year from 8.3 percent in 2011, the Washington-based World Bank said in a report today. That is the slowest pace since 2001, according to World Bank data, and lower than a forecast in May of 7.6 percent.

Biggest Surprise

The biggest surprise in the U.S. jobs report for September was a drop in the unemployment rate to 7.8 percent, the lowest since January 2009, from 8.1 percent in August and 8.5 percent at the end of last year. The median forecast of 88 economists surveyed by Bloomberg prior to the report was for an 8.2 percent rate. No economist projected joblessness below 8 percent.

Employment, as measured by a survey of households, expanded 873,000. During the last three months, it’s risen an average 186,000, not much different from the growth of payrolls reported by employers during that period.

President Barack Obama used the jobs data to press home his message that the economy is on the mend after the worst recession since the Great Depression.

“We’ve made too much progress to return to the policies that led to the crisis in the first place,” Obama said on Oct. 5 at a campaign rally in Fairfax, Virginia.

His Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, said much of the decline in the jobless rate this year reflects discouraged workers abandoning their search.

Creating Jobs

“When I’m president of the United States, that unemployment rate is going to come down, not because people are giving up and dropping out of the workforce, but because we’re creating more jobs,” the former Massachusetts governor told voters in Abingdon, Virginia, on Oct 5.

That wasn’t the case in September, when employment as measured by the Labor Department’s household survey showed the biggest increase since June 1983, excluding the annual Census population adjustments.

The winner of the Nov. 6 presidential election will have a big say in how the year-end fiscal squeeze will be handled, Andy Stern, former president of the Service Employees International Union, said at a Sept. 13 Bloomberg Markets conference in New York. Obama has said he wants to allow the scheduled tax increases on the wealthy. Romney opposes any rise in taxes.

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