WASHINGTON (AP) – A measure of hiring by United States (US) companies has fallen to a seven-year low and fewer employers are raising pay, a business survey has found.
Just one-fifth of the economists surveyed by the National Association for Business Economics (NABE) said their companies have hired additional workers in the past three months. That is down from one-third in July. Job totals were unchanged at 69 per cent of companies, up from 57 per cent in July. A broad measure of job gains in the survey fell to its lowest level since October 2012.
The hiring slowdown comes as more businesses are reporting slower growth of sales and profits. Business economists also expect the economy’s growth to slow in the coming year, partly because tariffs have raised prices and cut into sales for many firms.
“The US economy appears to be slowing, and respondents expect still slower growth over the next 12 months,” said NABE President and Chief Economist at the accounting firm KPMG Constance Hunter.
Perhaps because of concerns over a weakening economy, businesses are less likely to offer higher pay, even with unemployment at a 50-year low.
Just one-third of economists said their firms had lifted pay in the past three months, down from more than half a year ago.
Companies are also cutting back on their investments in machinery, computers, and other equipment. The proportion of firms increasing their spending on such goods is at its lowest level in five years, the survey found.
Sales are also growing more slowly. Just 39 per cent of economists said they rose in the past three months, down from 61 per cent a year earlier. And only 38 per cent said they expect sales to rise in the next three months, also down from 61 per cent a year ago.
Many business economists blamed President Trump’s tariffs on steel, aluminium, and on most imports from China for worsening business conditions.
Thirty-five per cent said the duties have hurt their companies, while just seven per cent said they had a positive effect.