Two years into the economic recovery and millions are still struggling to find jobs, as companies slowly expand their payrolls amid weak demand.
Jobseekers are also competing against technology and outsourcing. The combination is encouraging some companies to spend more on plants and equipment and less on people.
Some analysts say that employers have been slow in hiring because of the impact of new government regulation and the possibility of higher future taxes. Skeptics counter that business is simply being too cautious, even stingy.
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