Employers across a range of industries have stepped up hiring. The economy gained 243,000 jobs in January, the most since last April. The hiring spree helped lower the unemployment rate for a fifth straight month, to 8.3 percent.
The reasons why businesses are hiring vary. Among the employers adding jobs:
Acquity Group, » a website designer in Chicago, added about 100 people in the second half of 2011 and now has about 460. Jim Newman, an executive vice president, says it plans to add 200-250 this year. He says more companies see web-based advertising and communications as cost-efficient. "I don’t think people are as nervous about the economy as they once were."
Rackspace Hosting Inc., » a "cloud computing" company that maintains corporate websites, says it hired nearly 650 people last year and plans a similar number this year. The company says its clients have spent about 10 percent more on Rackspace’s services compared with a year ago.
Union Pacific Corp., » the nation’s largest rail operator, has benefited from rising auto sales. It ships cars for General Motors, Ford and Chrysler. It also ships oil and gas and drill pipes. "A lot of our growth is dependent on jobs, hiring and consumer spending," said Donna Kush, a spokeswoman. "We are expecting moderate growth in these areas" in 2012. Union Pacific added 1,500 jobs last year and foresees similar additions this year.
Continental AG » is straining to keep up with demand for its tires as auto sales rise. The German company, which employs 10,000 in the United States, is building a tire plant in Sumter, S.C., and expanding another in Illinois. It’s stepped-up production will require adding jobs for several years.
National-Oilwell Varco Inc. » a Houston company that builds parts for oil drilling, hired about 5,000 people in 2011 and will likely do so again in 2012. Higher oil prices have sparked a surge in drilling projects, especially on land, where big oil drillers have learned to tap oil deposits in underground layers of shale.
New York-based LocalVox Inc. » is hiring to handle a growing roster of small-businesses clients hoping to capitalize on social media. Its software is intended to make it easier for clients to simultaneously update Facebook pages, tweets, websites and customer email lists with marketing announcements. The company’s payroll jumped from 10 to 30 employees last year; it plans to double it to 60 this year.
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