When asked if they have any plans to add to their payrolls in the near term, most companies have responded negatively. They are being kept out of the labor market by their expectation of a sluggish economic recovery and by concerns about health care costs and future tax policy, according to Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta president Dennis ­Lockhart.

Lockhart on Thursday laid out what he has gathered from conversations with business contacts about economic conditions, especially with regard to obstacles to hiring, job-skill issues, and possible longer-term employer-employee trends. He detailed them in remarks prepared for the Atlanta Fed’s Conference on Employment and the Business Cycle, 

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