Companies from General Electric Co. to yogurt producer Chobani are adding U.S. workers, accelerating a rebound in hiring, as chief executive officers prepare for greater demand in a strengthening economic recovery.
Boeing Co. is bringing in more than 100 union machinists a week for a 60 percent boost in output by 2014. Nissan Motor Co. will expand in Tennessee with 1,000 people making lithium-ion batteries. And a GE executive was at a Kentucky appliance plant before dawn this month to greet some of 500 new employees.
"The next few years are going to be a different picture than what we saw in the last few," said Hamdi Ulukaya, CEO and founder of South Edmeston, New York-based Chobani, which is building a 300-worker plant in Twin Falls, Idaho. "To get ready for this, we need to have our manufacturing capacity in place."
The hiring reflects optimism among CEOs that the economy will continue to strengthen and more workers will be needed to meet demand. It may signal an end to a lockdown on job growth following the financial crisis that lingered even after the recession ended in June 2009, with economists estimating more new jobs created this year than any time since 2006.
Manufacturing, whether for GE refrigerators or Greenbrier Cos. rail cars, is a bright spot in a labor market still so weak that December's unemployment rate of 8.5 percent was the lowest in three years. U.S. factory payrolls expanded by 225,000 jobs in 2011, more than double the total from a year earlier.
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