MORE SIGNS OF LIFE IN THE JOB MARKET…. At this point, I’ll take good news where I can find it. This news, for example, by way of reader T.D., certainly seems encouraging.

American companies say they plan to hire. If they do as they say, the unemployment picture will brighten considerably.

In a quarterly survey of chief executives, the Business Roundtable found that 52 percent of companies planned to hire workers in the United States over the next six months, while just 11 percent said they expected to reduce employment.

Never before have so many chief executives said they planned to hire, or so few said they planned to cut payrolls. The survey has been taken every three months since late 2002.

Now, “never before” may seem a little hyperbolic, given that the Business Roundtable survey has only been around for nine years, but the point is, over the last decade or so, executives haven’t been quite as eager to hire as they are now.

The graph that accompanied the New York Times article helps paint an encouraging picture.


Policymakers can certainly help screw this up by slashing public investments, undermining demand, laying off public-sector workers, failing to raise the debt ceiling, shutting down the government, etc. Indeed, that’s the Republican agenda in a nutshell.

But the last two monthly job reports have been encouraging, and reports like these suggest there’s at least some reason for optimism going forward.

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Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.