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The Industries Behind Friday’s Jobs Numbers

Kevin Chupka
Executive Producer/Writer

Tomorrow's jobs report is sure to garner plenty of media attention, but what about the story behind the numbers? Last month Dow Chemical (DOW) announced plans to layoff 3,000 workers and DuPont (DD) will reportedly reduce their staff by 1,500. According to a report out today from Challenger, Gray and Christmas, layoff plans for firms across the country have hit a five-month high, jumping 41.1 percent in October.

Brent Rasmussen, president of North American operations for CareerBuilder.com tried to put layoff fears to rest. "I don't think it's a trend," he say, "even though we've seen weak reporting so far in third quarter earnings." (See Related: Good Economic Data Meets Bad Earnings: Which Is Wrong?)

For Rasmussen, this is just more of what the U.S. job market has seen for the past year and he suggests it will continue in 2013 and 2014.

"I think we're gonna be in the same situation we are today — slow moderate growth in the United States. So far this year we've averaged about 146,000 jobs on a monthly basis. That is slow, that is moderate. We need to get up into 200,000 to 250,000 jobs created to have a real dent, to have a real impact on the unemployment rate."

Amid the gloomy outlook Rasmussen sees a silver lining in some industries, and the energy sector is chief among them. "You've heard both presidential candidates talk about the importance of energy independence in the United States. We've seen some growth in the drilling of wells. We've seen the growth in jobs in terms of extraction of petroleum and natural gas in the United States," he says.

Rasmussen also likes job prospects created by the internet, from online publishing and broadcasting, to developers and e-shopping firms. And the recent increase in manufacturing is also a good sign for U.S jobs, according to Rasmussen.

"When manufacturing is up it has a trickle down effect," he states. "[If] you have manufacturing up, you're gonna have transportation up in the United States so there are some positive signals that are happening right now and through Q4."

Still, many businesses have shown caution in hiring because they simply don't know whether the U.S. will avoid the fiscal cliff. Rasmussen argues that firms are not stopping hiring altogether, but rather are taking advantage of temporary workers. "The temporary workforce is up 20% over 2010, so that's a positive sign that people feel pretty good about their businesses. They're just not quite sure what 2013 and 2014 are gonna look like." (See Related: Get Ready for Another Year of Slow Growth)

For instance, the temporary workforce has become key to the retail industry as it prepares for the holiday shopping season. So far Amazon (AMZN) has announced the hiring of 50,000 temporary workers, Toys R Us will hire 45,000 and UPS (UPS) will bring on an additional 55,000.

Rasmussen suggests that the holiday season is "make or break" for retailers and their headcount this year. "If the retail season doesn't produce the results that the retail companies expect it to, the holiday shopping, you will see some significant cuts in that sector as well. So we need to stay tuned in terms of how the consumers in the United States respond to spending their money over the holiday season."

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