The National Association for Business Economics (NABE) released the results of its latest quarterly survey this week, which polls member firms to assess their upcoming hiring strategies and gauge expectations for economic growth.
Fifty percent of the responding companies in the finance, insurance, and real estate (FIRE) category Ã¢â‚¬" which includes banks, mortgage lenders, and secondary market players, in addition to real estate-related businesses Ã¢â‚¬" said they expect to increase their payrolls over the next six months. None are anticipating a reduction in head count through significant layoffs.
The FIRE sector reported the strongest hiring outlook of all four industry segments included in the survey break-down.
The employment picture for the real estate and finance industries stands out above the rest, but NABE found that the nation's job market overall is expected to improve in the months ahead.
The organization says 42 percent of all respondents indicated their firms will be increasing employment during the first half of 2011. That's up from 39 percent last quarter and 29 percent in January 2010. Those expecting large rounds of layoffs fell to just 1 percent, compared to 6 percent a year ago.
""The number of firms expressing positive hiring plans is at a level not seen in over a decade - a sign of improving labor-market dynamics,"" said Shawn DuBravac, a member of NABE and chief economist for the Consumer Electronics Association.
DuBravac says NABE's latest survey results confirm ""that the underpinnings of the U.S. economy continue to strengthen.""
Experts agree that job creation is critical to getting the housing and mortgage markets back on track Ã¢â‚¬" both in curbing delinquencies and foreclosures, and in giving consumers the security they need to become homebuyers.
The nation's unemployment rate remains extremely elevated at 9.4 percent, but weekly jobless claims have dropped since the federal government released that figure in early January, which analysts say may be an indicator of an improving labor market.