Thursday, March 31, 2011

Your call has been disconnected

By Carl 

Well, this is good news, right?

Fewer Americans filed applications for unemployment benefits last week, a sign the labor market is firming heading into the second quarter.

Jobless claims fell by 6,000 to 388,000 in the week ended March 26, Labor Department figures showed today in Washington. The government also issued its annual revisions to the seasonal- adjustment factors, which caused a “mild upward shift” in the number of applications, an agency spokesman said as the figures were released to reporters.

A slowdown in firings and growing payrolls may bolster further gains in consumer spending, which accounts for about 70 percent of the world’s largest economy. Companies added 210,000 jobs in March, while the unemployment rate held at 8.9 percent, economists project a Labor Department report to show tomorrow. 

A sidenote: there is some reason for concern for the Obama camp, in that high unemployment is usually a harbinger of defeat in an election. The latest number, 8.9%, is notably down from the near-10% of this time last year, but more has to be done. Fortunately, these things have a way of gaining momentum.

Employment is like Sisyphus' boulder: once it starts up the hill, it becomes easier and faster, but when it falls, it plummets.

Americans getting jobs. Sounds like a sign of a healthy economy. 

As  I write this, the markets have just opened for the day. Mind you, nearly every index is up for the year at or near record paces not seen since the tech bubble of 1998, but today, when finally it looks good for an American middle class worker, the toilet lid flies up and the markets sink. The Dow is off 13 points, and S&P 500 and NASDAQ are both struggling to stay even.

What is it with corporate America that they can't sync up with Main Street Americans?

In a nutshell, there is no more Corporate America any more than there are American cars. So many companies have become multinational conglomerates that their fortunes no longer rise or fall along with those of you and I here in the USA.

It used to be "what was good for GM was good for America," but that's no longer the case. GM got bailed out. Americans got HAMPered, the plug having been pulled on the only sensible bailout program in the recession, the one that helped Americans keep their homes.

But I forgot. That program wasn't going to turn a profit for the US. Or a bigger one for the banks. My error.

Just like full employment means the banks can't hold your feet to the fire in interest and late payment charges.

(Cross-posted to Simply Left Behind.)

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