Salient to Investors:

Michael Montgomery at IHS Global Insight said current work weeks are very, very, very long on a historical basis, and a cause of job growth in manufacturing, which with housing and other industries starting to join autos in supporting manufacturing, makes the job gains more sustainable.

Transportation and metal fabrication industries make up a majority of the job gains since September as auto sales rebounded more quickly than housing.

Production workers averaged 41.9 hours a week in February, tying December 1997 and January 1998 as the most since May 1944, and the record of 45.4 hours in January and February 1944.

Robert Dye at Comerica said the hiring gains may be at risk later in 2013 if long-term GDP growth does not move beyond the 2 percent increase seen in productivity – GDP growth needs to be 3 percent to 3.5 percent for a more sustainable demand for workers. Dye said manufacturing is not a net job adder to the US economy over the long-term, even in an expansion cycle, because it is a high-productivity industry – a la the 1990s and 2000s.

Wages as a percent of GDP hit a record low of 43.6 percent in Q3 2012 versus at least 50 percent from the early 1950s until 1975. Howard Ward at Gamco Investors said companies can’t reduce wages anymore so will have to pay and hire more, which is ultimately good for the economy and the stock market.

The median economist expects GDP to rise at a 2.1 percent annual rate in Q2, 2.5 percent in Q3, and 2.8 percent in Q4.

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