Economic Recovery Boosts Employers' Confidence

The economy added jobs across most sectors in March, including manufacturing with 17,000 more jobs and retail with 15,000 more jobs. Even the construction industry added 15,000 jobs, its biggest gain in three years.
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The Labor Department reported Friday that the unemployment rate held steady in March at 9.7 percent. Employers added 162,000 jobs, the most in three years. For four of the past five months now, private industry has added workers.

President Obama applauded the news, saying "Today is encouraging day. We are beginning to turn the corner."

Still, he acknowledged there is still a long way to go to put Americans back to work. Nearly a third of the gains in March - 48,000 jobs - came from the hiring of government census workers.

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More importantly, business hiring was strong too. The economy added jobs across most sectors, including manufacturing with 17,000 more jobs and retail with 15,000 more jobs. Even the construction industry added 15,000 jobs, its biggest gain in three years.

"It does look like we've seen a turnaround over the last few months in the nature of the economy and in the labor market," said David Wyss of Standard & Poor's. "I think it's going to be a slow recovery, but it looks like a recovery."

Also, businesses are gaining confidence that recovery can be sustained.

"We're able to pick up some good new talent in a market like this," said Bruce Graham of Tyler Technologies.

The Dallas-based software company is looking to add 150 workers this year.

"We're growing in terms of developers," Graham said. "We're adding to our staff people that install the software, project managers, support people."

Temporary hiring also continues to surge. About 313,000 temp jobs have been added since September 2009, but many are surviving on temporary work because they can't find full time jobs.

"I have become the world's greatest multi-tasker," said Fiorella Garuba, who since her housing design business collapsed more than a year ago has stitched together a string of part time jobs to make ends meet.

Those jobs include refereeing weekend soccer games, doing medical transcription, babysitting and picking up small fees from participating in focus groups.

"I would say I'm probably juggling eight or nine type of things that I'm doing," Garuba said.

Her latest job: census worker.

"I was very excited when they called me last week," Garuba said. "That starts at the end of April, but again that is only temporary for six to eight weeks."

Still, the March hiring surge is a striking turnaround for an economy, which only a year ago lost 700,000 jobs.

"To quote Jim Morrison," Wyss said. "'I've been down so long, it looks like up to me.'"

  • Anthony Mason

    CBS News senior business and economics correspondent; Co-host, "CBS This Morning: Saturday"