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Posts Tagged ‘Obama

A Second Stimulus, and Bad News for the Finance Industry: This Week in Employment

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If one thing has become clear over the last week, it’s that the road to the midterm election is going to be a long, long, slog—especially for those of us who have set up alerts for the words “economy” and “jobs” in Google Reader and.

In case you somehow missed it, the biggest thing that happened to the world of jobs this week is that President Obama came out swinging as he attempts to save the Democratic majority in the House come November. Accordingly, almost everything he said throughout the week was tailored towards the issues that voters are most concerned about right now. Don’t know what that is? Here’s a clue: starts with “j”, ends in “obs.”

Mindful of the tarnished reputation of Stimulus I, the President was careful to avoid the term when rolling out his latest plan to, uh, stimulate the economy. His new plan has three main prongs, with each designed to spur hiring and investment in the economy: infrastructure spending, a 100 percent tax break for companies on new investments in plant and equipment, and increasing the budget for an R&D tax credit while also making it permanent. Oh, and there was also something about “holding the middle class hostage” that didn’t get any press attention at all.

Outside of Washington, one of the biggest hiring stories of the week turned out to not be much of a story at all. There we were all breathless with excitement over the news that Spanish bank Santander was hiring 6,000 in the UK. There was speculation on what it could possibly mean in terms of their plans for expansion (the company only has 22,000 employees in the UK).. And then there was another announcement: the company is hiring a mere 600 employees. Typos, eh?

Compounding the bad news for the finance industry was the prediction from Wall Street analyst Meredith Whitney that some 50,000 jobs related to the securities industry could be at risk. Her reasoning: that ” underwriting and advisory fees account for around 80 per cent of investment banks’ revenues and those areas have suffered badly.”

It was a bad week for those in aerospace and defense contracting as well: BAE Systems, Boeing and Lockheed Martin all announced layoffs, with tightened spending at the Pentagon prompting the firms to cut costs.

Elsewhere, it was another better-than-expected week for new jobless claims, with further “good” news to be found in the fact that there are now only five jobless workers for every open position. Woeful as that figure sounds, it’s a significant improvement from just a few months ago, when it was as high as six per opening.

There’s fresh hope on the horizon regarding that number as well: the birth rate appears to be among the many things negatively affected by the economy. All we need to do is hold on for a generation or so, and there will be more jobs than people. Right?

March Jobs Number: “We Are Turning The Corner”

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The March unemployment number is in and—surprise!—not much has changed. The news was mostly positive: the DOL figures show a net gain of 162,000 jobs during March, but that figure wasn’t enough to shift the overall unemployment rate below 9.7 percent—the same place it’s been all year. (There’s a medical term for what the overall number has done this year: flatlining. Unfortunately for us, the “patient” in this case is the US economy, and no-one’s quite figured out how the defibrillator paddles work yet.)

Perhaps the most disheartening thing about the statistics is that even as the President was announcing that “[w]e are turning the corner,” he still took time out to acknowledge that we’re nowhere near a healthy economic situation. We’ve kind of come to expect doom, gloom and monthly updates on an “unacceptably high jobless rate from Tim Geithner, but when the Commander in Chief feels compelled to point to the “staggering” losses of late, it’s a little harder to ignore.

He has a point, though: eight million job losses over the past two years is a staggering number.

Still, as we head into a holiday weekend that promises—among other things—nicer weather for vast swathes of the country, we’re keen to accentuate the positive. And there’s nothing quite as positive—we think—as job gains. On that note, then, have a great weekend!

Written by Phil Stott

April 2, 2010 at 2:59 pm

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