Barry James, president of James Investment Research, was one of the few forecasters expecting disappointing employment numbers, even as the U.S. economy shows strength in sectors like housing and manufacturing.
"We're not where we should be in a normal recovery" as far as jobs go, James said, noting that most of the jobs created since the Great Recession ended in mid-2009 have been low-wage positions that offer workers little security. "We'll see some improvements, but the labor market won't be as dynamic as we'd like to see."
James does think the labor market, which picked up speed late last year after growing unevenly in 2013, will firm up in 2014. "There will be a few of reports that aren't very good, but overall we'll see a steady improvement throughout the year," predicted James, whose firm operates the James Advantage Funds.
Another positive for the labor market is the new Federal Reserve Chair, Janet Yellen, James said. "Her focus is going to be jobs, jobs and jobs." he said, while noting that such an approach to monetary policy could trigger inflation and carries other risks.
If the employment picture starts to weaken, James believes the Fed will do what it can to stimulate the economy. "She is not going to take her eye off that prize."
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