Read a little. Learn a lot. • Tightly-written news, views and stuff • Follow us on TwitterBe a Facebook FanTumble us!

03 Feb 2012 08:43


Biz: Jobs report: Economy knocks down unemployment expectations big time

  • 243,000 number of jobs added in January, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ monthly report
  • 8.3% the current unemployment rate, which is like, way lower than it’s been in a long time source
  • » Beating expectations handily: Many experts were expecting an increase in jobs, but not one this high. This is not to say we don’t have a long way to go, just that this is a very good number, especially for the time of year, when the assumption is that seasonal jobs are ending. Even better: The economy added 200,000 more jobs last year than first thought. Sounds to us like things are starting to look up. Read the full report here.

01 Feb 2012 10:07


Politics: CBO: What if Congress did nothing this year? Well, we’d cut the deficit

  • positive According to a hypothetical posed by the Congressional Budget Office, if Congress’ deadlock worsened and nothing got done this year, the deficit would shrink heavily as the Bush tax cuts would expire and other spending initiatives would end. Huh.
  • negative However … this comes with a lot of pain. As federal workers lose their jobs, the unemployment rate would rise above 9 percent again, and the economy’s recent gains would get pushed back, according to CBO estimates. Would the cost be worth the benefit, guys? source
  • » The trade-off: “On the one hand, if policymakers leave current laws unchanged, the federal debt will probably recede slowly,” said CBO director Douglas W. Elmendorf. “On the other hand, changing current laws to let current policies continue … would boost the economy and allow people to pay less in taxes and benefit more from government programs in the next few years — but put the nation on an unsustainable fiscal course.” That’s a tough one, kids.

26 Dec 2011 20:49


World: Japan having a “mancession”: Women bringing home the bacon

  • 5.4% the percentage of men that were unemployed in Japan as of 2010
  • 4.6% the percentage of unemployed women; that’s a role-reversal source
  • » Tough cultural conditions to blame: With a high pay gap between female and male workers (females make less), a switch from traditional manufacturing to service industries, an aging population, a slowing birth rate, and a move among Japanese couples to marry later, Japan is quickly facing a bit of a cultural shift in terms of who has a job and who doesn’t. By 2020, estimates say, the number of unemployed men vs. unemployed women could become even more pronounced.

20 Dec 2011 22:16


U.S.: Unemployment fell in majority of states last month

  • 43 states have seen a decrease in unemployment since October source
  • » As goes the country, so go the states: Or maybe it’s the other way around? Well, either way, figures released today by the Department of Labor show that unemployment, in addition to falling to its lowest level in two and a half years at the national level, also decreased on a state-by-state basis in all but seven states. This is promising, as it suggests that the uptick in employment is a nationwide trend, and not the result of, say, five or ten states doing abnormally well for one reason or another. Note: The usual disclaimers about the problems with how unemployment is calculated apply.

15 Dec 2011 11:16


Biz: Christmas miracle? New unemployment claims hit 3.5-year low

  • 366,000 the number of people who filed for unemployment benefits last week — a number that’s been on the decline for months
  • 365,000 the number of people who filed during a week in May 2008, the last time that the jobless benefits numbers were quite this low source
  • » However: Don’t get too excited, guys. While the heavily-fluctuating number is certainly better than it’s been in a long time (and the unemployment number is at its lowest level in a long time), the comeback is far from here. Example: During the financial crisis, the U.S. lost roughly 8.8 million jobs; less than a third of those jobs have returned. On top of this, many are still unemployed, and their benefits could run out soon if Congress does not act on the extension for unemployment benefits. Yeah, sorry we have to be such downers, but let’s look in perspective here.

02 Dec 2011 12:39


Biz: Rosy, but not too rosy: Today’s jobs numbers show modest upswing

  • 8.6% jobless rate in November, the lowest since early ’09
  • positive The economy added many more private-sector jobs in November than in prior months — 120,000 new non-farm payrolls, to be exact. A sign of recovery?
  • positive On top of this, the revised jobs numbers from September and October show that things were rosier than first estimated, meaning it’s a more substantial upswing.
  • negative However, the drop in unemployment partly came from an overall shrinking of the labor force. In other words, fewer people are seeking jobs. Bummer. source
  • » Political ramifications: The jobs numbers aren’t at a point where people have reason to be dancing in the streets, but cautious optimism is the name of the game. The GOP’s election platform could waver if the numbers get any better. Hence this response from House speaker John Boehner: “Any job creation is welcome news, but the jobless rate in this country is still unacceptable.” What do you all think?

26 Oct 2011 14:40


Politics: Obama backs plan to alleviate crushing student loan debt

  • $24,000 average student debt in 2009 source
  • » Way down in the hole: The above figure represents the average student loan debt for a graduate of a four-year, non-profit university, as measured in 2009 by the Institute for College Access & Success. In an economy that’s stifling the job prospects of even accomplished college graduates, finding yourself in this level of debt can feel a bit like you’ve been scammed. President Obama is today promoting his plan to tweak the Income-Based Repayment Plan for student loans with changes that were meant to take effect in 2014 (Obama wants 2012). The percentage of one’s discretionary monthly income that must be paid would be lowered from 15% to 10%, and all debt would be forgiven after 20 years, as opposed to the program’s current 25.

23 Oct 2011 10:46


Biz: We’re all pretty miserable: U.S. misery index nears 30-year-high

  • 13.0 the highest level since 1983; what a miserable level source
  • » How it’s calculated: The misery index is the sum of the country’s inflation and unemployment rates — a pretty simple number to calculate. On the plus side, this number will slide at some point, because, due to the weak job market, inflation will likely decline next year, lowering the misery level. On the down side, that’s not the number everyone’s looking to fall.

29 Sep 2011 10:32


Biz: Jobless claims fall to super-low level … but there’s a catch

  • good news Weekly jobless claims reached their lowest level in nearly six months, which seems like it’s a cause to celebrate, especially since it greatly beat analysts’ estimates. On the surface, it seems like a cause for dancing in the streets, folks.
  • catch However … the Labor Department claims that report is off because of some sort of weird anomaly regarding the calendar, making it harder to seasonally-adjust the numbers. So, things are still crappy for the workforce. source

15 Sep 2011 15:25


Politics: Postmaster General will seek to close 252 mail processing plants

  • 32,000 postal service jobs may be lost source
  • » Cost-cutting galore: Facing down a U.S. postal service that lost about $8.5 billion lat year, Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe has proposed some major closures, which will come at the price of the mail efficiency. With a plan to close 252 offices nationwide, the downsizing could mean that first-class mail could take up to a day longer. The postal service is, as a business model, deeply unusual — it’s also not a matter of argument, as it’s the rare government agency explicitly demanded by the Constitution. The hope that the postal service has the resiliency to both lower its size and speed of delivery, yet still compete with the private carriers strikes us as an unlikely premise.