Experts Say Signs Point to Increased Hiring

Jobless claims are at the lowest levels in two years.

Jan. 24, 2011 -- "It feels like a light switch is about to go on," said one optimistic economist to ABC News.

Key indicators suggest the economy is moving in the right direction:

Jobless claims are at the lowest levels in 2 years, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Consumer confidence is at a 7-year high, an ABC News poll shows.

42 percent of companies expect to increase hiring in the next 6 months, according to a quarterly survey conducted by the National Association for Business Economics.

Mark Zandi of Moodys Analytical believes that the positive tone is being written in black ink. "I think the most important reason for optimism is that businesses are very profitable."

Corporate profits are at pre-recession levels and companies are sitting on nearly $2 trillion in cash.

ABC News spoke to 35 leading economic experts. Most said they expected hiring to improve over the next six months, and a few suggested the government do more to turn this spark of economic momentum into a fire of economic growth.

"You need a lot of growth," said Diane Swonk of Mesirow Financial. "We're starting to see more growth. That's the good news. The question is, is it really enough to be the job generator we need?"

For financial consulting giant, Deloitte, growth has come quickly. The company is ready to increase its payroll by 10,000.

"We are projecting return to our pre-recession hiring levels," said Deloitte CEO James Quigley. "So I'm delighted in the U.S. we are going to be increasing that hiring plan by 60 percent."

Deloitte is not alone. As part of Fortune magazine's "100 Best Companies to Work For" list, the magazine profiled 25 companies with 700 or more opportunities for new hires. In all, the top 100 firms on Fortune's list have 150,000 openings.

Though many of the openings are in high tech sectors, traditional industries are hiring as well. Wegmans Food Markets plans on opening three new stores in 2011 and currently has 2,000 job openings.

Economic Experts Expect Job Opportunities to Increase

"We look for people who smile, are enthusiastic, eager to learn and, in turn, want to teach others," said Kevin Stickles, Wegman's vice president of human services.

Despite the promising news, economists say that for a real turnaround America will need small and medium size business to pick up hiring as well, and that is just not being seen yet.

Top Stories

Top Stories

Top Stories

Top Stories

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events