David Kirkpatrick

November 2, 2010

Need an explanation …

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 9:18 am

… for today’s electoral outcome? Here you go.

From the link:

The number of Americans who say things are going badly in the country, at 75 percent, is higher than it has been on the eve of any midterm election since the question was first asked in the mid-1970s, according to a new national poll.

A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Monday also indicates that the economy remains, by far, the top issue on the minds of Americans. Fifty-two percent of people questioned say the economy’s the most important issue facing the country.

“That’s more than the deficit, education, health care, terrorism, energy, illegal immigration and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq combined,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. “No other issue was named as the country’s top problem by more than 8 percent.”

The economy has been the issue most on the mind of Americans in CNN polling since the end of 2007.

 

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October 28, 2010

Want to know where some of those missing jobs are?

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 6:56 pm

A great place to start looking is corporate balance sheets.

From the link:

US companies are hoarding almost $1 trillion in cash but are unlikely to spend on expanding their business and hiring new employees due to continuing uncertainty about the strength of the economy, Moody’s Investors Service said on Tuesday.

As the economy stabilizes companies are also more likely to spend on share repurchases and mergers and acquisitions, Moody’s (MCO: 26.60 ,-0.54 ,-1.99%) added.

Companies cut costs, reduced investment in plants and equipment and downsized operations in order to boost cash holdings during the recession.

As the corporate bond market reopened many companies also boosted cash levels by selling debt and refinancing near-term debt maturities.

Nonfinancial U.S. companies are sitting on $943 billion of cash and short-term investments, as of mid-year 2010, compared with $775 billion at the end of 2008, Moody’s said.

This would be enough to cover a year’s worth of capital spending and dividends and still have $121 billion left over, it said.

However, “we believe companies are looking for greater certainty about the economy and signs of a permanent increase in sales before they let go of their cash hoards, which they suffered so much to build,” Moody’s said in a report.

“Given low demand and capacity utilization within certain industries, companies are wary of investing their cash in new capacity and adding workers, thereby doing little to abbreviate the jobless recovery,” it added.

 

 

September 10, 2010

A glimmer of economic hope …

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 12:33 pm

… new jobless benefits claims down. Of course with this unemployment there’s just not that many jobs to lose thusly creating the newly jobless.

September 3, 2010

Christina Romer on solving the current level of unemployment

Short version? Cut taxes and crank up spending to give the economy a boost.

August 12, 2010

Economic recovery weakening …

Filed under: Business, Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:23 am

… per the Fed. Not good news out there at all, and a lot of us are really feeling it right now.

From the link:

The U.S. economic recovery is weakening, the Federal Reserve warned at the conclusion of its meeting Tuesday, its most bearish outlook in more than a year.

“The pace of recovery in output and employment has slowed in recent months,” the Fed said in its statement. It said while it still expects the economy to grow, the improvement will be “more modest in the near term than had been anticipated.”

August 2, 2010

The Great Recession, animated

A chilling look at unemployment from January 2007 to May 2010.

June 16, 2010

No job? Don’t bother with the application

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 5:40 pm

This is a despicable practice, but totally legal and will within the rights of any company trying to fill a job. As the linked article mentions, automatically excluding the currently unemployed from consideration in this economic climate is more than shortsighted — it’s just stupid.

From the link:

The last thing someone who is unemployed needs to be told is that they shouldn’t even apply for the limited number of job openings that are available. But some companies and recruiters are doing just that.

Employment experts say they believe companies are increasingly interested only in applicants who already have a job.

“I think it is more prevalent than it used to be,” said Rich Thompson, vice president of learning and performance for Adecco Group North America, the world’s largest staffing firm. “I don’t have hard numbers, but three out of the last four conversations I’ve had about openings, this requirement was brought up.”

Some job postings include restrictions such as “unemployed candidates will not be considered” or “must be currently employed.” Those explicit limitations have occasionally been removed from listings when an employer or recruiter is questioned by the media though.

May 14, 2010

Good news everyone, unemployment is rising

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 5:40 pm

Here’s the story behind that counterintuitive header:

It sounds dreadful. After drifting down consistently since last fall, the unemployment rate has suddenly shot up again, from 9.7 percent in March to 9.9 percent in April. But don’t despair: A rising unemployment rate is actually one of the best signs yet that the economy is bouncing back.

The unemployment rate rose for the right reason. Instead of shedding jobs, employers added 290,000 jobs in April, the strongest showing since 2007. The reason the unemployment rate went up is that a lot more people are suddenly looking for work. The government said that the labor force swelled by 805,000 people in April. That’s more than three times the number of new jobs, so the proportion of people looking for a job but unable to find one went up. Still, that big increase in the labor force marks an important shift in sentiment among people on the fringes of the economy.

April 8, 2010

Economy may be improving, but unemployment still a drag

Filed under: Business, Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 7:01 pm

There may be some economic pollyannas starting to make appearances, but don’t count Fed chief Ben Bernanke among them. His exact quote the current state of things? “Far from being out of the woods.” Those aren’t the words of someone who’s feeling real good about the economy right now.

From the second link:

Bernanke said he expects the Fed’s easy money policies and a gathering recovery “will be sufficient to slowly reduce the unemployment rate over the coming year” from its current level of 9.7%. But he admitted that the jobless rate remains a major concern.

“The economy has stabilized and is growing again, although we can hardly be satisfied when 1 out of every 10 U.S. workers is unemployed and family finances remain under great stress,” Bernanke said.

The Fed chief also noted that bank lending continues to be weak and inflation expectations stable. Those observations should allow the central bank to continue to hold short-term interest rates near zero percent for what the Fed has called an “extended period” while keeping prices stable.

March 25, 2010

Congress working on small business and construction aid

With health care over and done Congress is already looking to boost an ailing Main Street.

From the link:

The House approved 246-178 a bill designed to boost investment in small businesses, which have been reluctant to take on new workers as the economy recovers from the worst recession in 70 years.

The bill would also expand subsidies for state and local construction bonds in an effort to bring down the 9.7 percent unemployment rate ahead of the November congressional elections.

Democrats noted that the popular Build America bond-subsidy program has funded $78 billion in state and local construction projects.

“It’s been an effective tool in job creation,” said the bill’s author, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Sander Levin.

Corporate belt tightening led to cash reserves

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:38 pm

Of course all this liquidity was wrung out of Main Street and the lifeblood of the economy — the workforce.

From the link:

The brutal recession has left many American families, small businesses and state and local governments in financial ruin or teetering on the brink.

But it’s a much different story for the nation’s biggest companies. Many have emerged from the economy’s harrowing downturn loaded with cash, thanks to deep cost-cutting that helped drive unemployment into double digits.

And although the banking crisis starved countless entrepreneurs for money last year, credit was never scarce for business titans.

March 10, 2010

IRS outreach to the unemployed

Tax season is here and tax day is looming. If you are currently unemployed, there’s a new one-year only tax break involving your unemployment checks to take advantage of, and the Internal Revenue Service is offering additional assistance for those out of work. Don’t get on the bad side of the IRS because your employment condition and take advantage of every break, deduction and federal assistance and advice out there.

From the second link, the release:

IRS Outlines Additional Steps to Assist Unemployed Taxpayers and Others

Video
Owe Taxes But Can’t Pay? English
Unemployment Compensation: EnglishSpanish
Job Search Expenses: EnglishSpanishASL
For these and other videos:  YouTube/IRSVideos

IR-2010-29, March 9, 2010

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today announced several additional steps it is taking this tax season to help people having difficulties meeting their tax obligations because of unemployment or other financial problems.

The steps –– an expansion of efforts that began more than a year ago –– include additional flexibility on offers in compromise for struggling taxpayers, a series of Saturday “open houses” offering taxpayers extra opportunities to work out tax problems face to face with the IRS, special outreach with partner groups to unemployed taxpayers and the availability of more information on a special section of the IRS Web site.

“Times are tough for many people, and the IRS wants to do everything it can to help people who have lost their job or face financial strain,” IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman said. “We continue to make adjustments to key programs and expand ways for people to get help. We’re doing everything we can to help ease the burden on struggling taxpayers.”

New Flexibility for Offers in Compromise

For some taxpayers, an offer in compromise –– an agreement between a taxpayer and the IRS that settles the taxpayer’s debt for less than the full amount owed –– continues to be a viable option. IRS employees will now have additional flexibility when considering offers in compromise from taxpayers facing economic troubles, including the recently unemployed.

Specifically, IRS employees will be permitted to consider a taxpayer’s current income and potential for future income when negotiating an offer in compromise. Normally, the standard practice is to judge an offer amount on a taxpayer’s earnings in prior years. This new step provides greater flexibility when considering offers in compromise from the unemployed. The IRS may also require that a taxpayer entering into such an offer in compromise agree to pay more if the taxpayer’s financial situation improves significantly.

These immediate steps are part of an on-going effort by the IRS to ensure the availability of the Offer in Compromise program for taxpayers.

Hundreds of Saturday Open Houses to Resolve Taxpayer Issues

In addition, IRS will hold hundreds of special Saturday open houses to give struggling taxpayers more opportunity to work directly with IRS employees to resolve issues. The offices will be open on March 27 and three additional Saturdays in the spring and early summer. Dates, times and locations will be announced shortly.

During the expanded Saturday hours, taxpayers will be able to address economic hardship issues they may be facing or get help claiming any of the special tax breaks in last year’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, including the:

  • Homebuyer tax credit
  • American Opportunity Credit
  • Making Work Pay credit
  • Expanded Earned Income Tax Credit

In addition to these special Saturdays, taxpayers can take advantage of toll-free telephone assistance and regularly scheduled hours at local Taxpayer Assistance Centers. Taxpayers can find the location, telephone number and business hours of the nearest assistance center by visiting the Contact My Local Office page on IRS.gov.

Special Outreach Efforts to Unemployed

The IRS is working and coordinating with state departments of revenue and state workforce agencies to help taxpayers who are having problems meeting their tax liabilities because of unemployment or other financial problems.

These coordinated efforts may include opportunities for taxpayers to make payment arrangements and resolve both federal and state tax issues in one place.

Special Section of IRS.gov Created

Taxpayers who are unemployed or struggling financially can find information on a new page on the IRS Web site, IRS.gov. This online tax center has numerous resources including links to information on tax assistance and relief to help struggling taxpayers

Other Options Available for Taxpayers

The IRS will continue to offer other help to taxpayers, including:

  • Assistance of the Taxpayer Advocate Service for those taxpayers experiencing particular hardship navigating the IRS.
  • Postponement of collection actions in certain hardship cases.
  • Added flexibility for missed payments on installment agreements and offers in compromise for previously compliant individuals having difficulty paying.
  • Additional review of home values for offers in compromise in cases where real-estate valuations may not be accurate.
  • Accelerated levy releases for taxpayers facing economic hardship.

In addition, the IRS will accelerate lien relief for homeowners if a taxpayer cannot refinance or sell a home because of a tax lien. As previously announced, a taxpayer seeking to refinance or sell a home may request the IRS make a tax lien secondary to the lien by the lending institution that is refinancing or restructuring a loan. The taxpayer may also request the IRS discharge its claim if the home is being sold for less than the amount of the mortgage lien under certain circumstances.

March 9, 2010

Unemployed? Be sure to take advantage of new tax break

Filed under: Business, Politics — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 11:49 am

It’s getting a little late in the game for this year’s taxes, but if you are unemployed you should make certain you take advantage of every tax break out there. You probably know within certain constraints you can deduct job search expenses, but this year offers a new break on unemployment insurance tax.

From the link:

Traditionally, every penny of unemployment insurance is taxed. But with 8.4 million job losses since the start of the recession, that rule is changing this year.

If you received unemployment checks last year, you can exclude the first $2,400 from your return. You have to remember to do this math yourself, since the documents from your state employment agency won’t exempt it. This benefit won’t be around next year.

March 5, 2010

Faking job references

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:01 pm

Providing a bogus job reference in the form of a friend or relative is nothing new, but I had no idea the concept has become so organized and commodified.

From the link:

But a niche business has cropped up that takes that a step further. Web sites that offer fake job reference services are available for any job seeker whose credentials and references don’t stand on their own. That’s bad news for hiring managers, according to Jeff Wizceb, a vice president with HR Plus, a division of AlliedBarton Security Services that provides background screening services.

Click here to find out more!“You basically sign up and create your own company that you want to have worked at or create a position at a legitimate company,” said Wizceb. “You plug in references, position, salary, all that information, and if an employer were to call the number you provided, these sites will pose as a reference and it would be basically this fake company that would ‘verify’ the information.”

March 4, 2010

Latest Beige Book outlines slow recovery

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:23 pm

The quick recap — yep, things are getting better, and no, not very quickly. And all that snow in February didn’t help things. The coming unemployment report is expected to show the rate rising to 9.8 percent.

From the link:

Of the Fed’s 12 regions surveyed, nine showed improvement. The Richmond district, which includes Maryland, Virginia and the Carolinas, was hurt the most by the bad winter. That region reportedeconomic activity had “slackened or remained soft across most sectors” because of the weather.

The economic setbacks from the weather come at a fragile time: The economy is struggling to recover from the worst and longest recession since the 1930s.

After a big growth spurt at the end of 2009, many economists believe the recovery lost steam in the first three months of this year. They predict it will grow at a pace of around 3 percent from January to March. That won’t be fast enough to drive down the unemployment rate, now at 9.7 percent.

The jobs market “remained soft throughout the nation,” the Fed reported.

Update 3/7/10 — If you feel the urge, or just want, to dig much deeper into this Beige Book report, hit this link for a 538 post full of charts and analysis.

March 2, 2010

Bunning quits playing Don Quixote …

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 8:45 pm

… the unemployed regain jobless benefits and the GOP heaves a great sigh of relief. And Bunning’s next opponent has a goldmine of opposition ad material.

From the link:

The Senate headed reached a resolution of an impasse over unemployment pay on Tuesday night after Senator Jim Bunning, Republican of Kentucky, dropped his objection to extending jobless benefits in exchange for a largely symbolic vote on paying for the aid.

Mr. Bunning’s agreement to relent essentially short-circuited an intensifying political battle that had already resulted in 2,000 workers at the Department of Transportation being furloughed without pay and in the temporary cutoff of benefits to thousands of out-of-work Americans.

It came after Mr. Bunning’s fellow Republicans began to air their own concerns about how the Senate blockade had the potential to damage their political brand while also having a direct impact on their constituents. The Senate later voted 78 to 19 to renew the programs.

February 21, 2010

Truly frightening unemployment news

Filed under: Business, Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:14 am

Well, I suppose this falls more under conjecture than news, but quite frightening nonetheless.

From the link:

Even as the American economy shows tentative signs of a rebound, the human toll of the recession continues to mount, with millions of Americans remaining out of work, out of savings and nearing the end of their unemployment benefits.

Economists fear that the nascent recovery will leave more people behind than in past recessions, failing to create jobs in sufficient numbers to absorb the record-setting ranks of the long-term unemployed.

And:

Every downturn pushes some people out of the middle class before the economy resumes expanding. Most recover. Many prosper. But some economists worry that this time could be different. An unusual constellation of forces — some embedded in the modern-day economy, others unique to this wrenching recession — might make it especially difficult for those out of work to find their way back to their middle-class lives.

Labor experts say the economy needs 100,000 new jobs a month just to absorb entrants to the labor force. With more than 15 million people officially jobless, even a vigorous recovery is likely to leave an enormous number out of work for years.

We may have avoided a second Great Depression to date, but the long-term effects on the U.S. economy may be very severe. Hopefully the economists who see major downturns rebounding with equally major expansions are correct. If this recession creates a large class of the permanently unemployed and drives more of the middle class down toward, or into, poverty, the social, political and economic repercussions probably are beyond our ability to imagine right now. A sizable and battered lower class does not make for a stable society.

February 12, 2010

Quite the misleading lede

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 11:55 am

Here’s the lede in an article about the banking industry and the ongoing credit crunch:

Those wicked bankers–refusing to lend to small businesses! So say the pols. The reality is something else.

You read that and think, man this whole credit crunch thing is just some sort of hoax cooked up by the mainstream media or opportunistic politicians. Then you hit the link up there, read the article and realize the gist of it is a lot of businesses have drastically cut expenses and are now self-capitalizing because profitability is up and operating costs are down.

The problem there is those companies drastically cut expenses — those pesky things like salaries for jobs that no longer exist and such — because the banking industry completely screwed Main Street and continued a ridiculous credit squeeze long after receiving billions in Federal bailout money. And trust me, the credit crunch is still going on.

It’s great some companies managed to pare down to the point of self-capitalizing. But I bet both the newly unemployed from those companies, and the now overworked employees doing a job that once was covered by two, or more, workers would prefer for those companies to hoard a little more cash (something like what banks are still doing) and dip into the credit market to cover operating costs. I bet some of the companies would love to do just that, but can’t — why?, because of that still overly tight credit market

January 29, 2010

New employee $5000 tax credit proposed

Filed under: Business, Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:18 pm

More detail on the White House plan to help Main Street.

From the link:

President Obama will propose Friday in Baltimore a new business tax credit worth up to $5,000 for every new worker hired this year.

Under the president’s plan, a business could claim a tax credit of up to $5,000 for every net new employee it adds to its workforce this year.  If that business hires a worker and fires another, it would be ineligible for this credit.

Senior administration officials said they capped the total credits a business can claim at $500,000 to ensure their proposal mostly helps small businesses.

“The focus is really on small businesses,” said a senior administration official.

The president is also proposing the federal government reimburse businesses for the Social Security taxes they owe on increases in their payrolls this year.

January 26, 2010

Small business tax credit still in play

Filed under: Business, Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:09 pm

It may have died in Congress, but a tax credit for small businesses creating jobs is a good idea. There are pros and cons, but overall Main Street needs this. Companies need a little more financial flexibility, especially if they legitimately need to add employees, and people out there just need more jobs.

From the link:

President Barack Obama’s push to create jobs includes a new tax credit for small businesses that add employees, an idea that fell flat in Congress last year and continues to have skeptics this year.

The idea has appeal as the nation struggles with an unemployment rate topping 10 percent. But House Democrats left out Obama’s proposal when they passed a jobs bill in December because they didn’t know how to target the credit effectively. The Obama administration still hasn’t provided details on how the tax credit would work, and some tax experts question whether it would.

January 22, 2010

A tiny ray of economic hope

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 5:02 pm

It’s not much, but anything ought to feel pretty good right now. Especially with unemployment still dogging the economy.

From the link (bold text is my emphasis):

The number of newly-laid off workers seeking jobless benefits unexpectedly rose last week, as the economy recovers at a slow and uneven pace, but a forecast of future economic activity jumped 1.1% in December, suggesting that economic growth could pick up this spring.

Layoffs have slowed and the economy began to grow in last year’s third quarter, but companies are reluctant to hire new workers. The unemployment rate is 10% and many economists expect it to increase in the coming months.

Here’s more detail on the good news portion of the link:

Separately, the 1.1% increase in the Conference Board’s index of leading economic indicators was larger than the 0.7% rise that economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters had expected.

January 21, 2010

COBRA subsidy extended

Good news for the unemployed who qualify.

The IRS release:

COBRA Subsidy Eligibility Period Extended Through February; 15-Months Subsidy Now Available to Those Who Qualify

Revised Jan. 21, 2010, to add HCTC information

WASHINGTON — Workers who lose their jobs during January and February may qualify for a 65-percent subsidy on their COBRA health insurance premiums, and these newly-eligible individuals, along with those already receiving the subsidy, can now receive it for up to 15 months, according to the Internal Revenue Service.

Created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the COBRA subsidy eligibility period was originally scheduled to expire at the end of 2009, and eligible individuals only qualified for the subsidy for nine months. But the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2010, enacted on Dec. 19, extended the eligibility period and the maximum duration of COBRA premium assistance.

As a result, workers who are involuntarily terminated from employment between Sept. 1, 2008, and Feb. 28, 2010, may be eligible for a 65-percent subsidy of their COBRA premiums for a period of up to 15 months. Involuntarily terminated employees who meet certain other requirements, and certain family members of those individuals, are referred to as “assistance-eligible individuals.”

Employers must provide COBRA coverage to assistance-eligible individuals who pay 35 percent of the COBRA premium. Employers are reimbursed for the other 65 percent by claiming a credit for the subsidy on their payroll tax returns: Form 941, Employers QUARTERLY Federal Tax Return, Form 944, Employer’s ANNUAL Federal Tax Return, or Form 943, Employer’s Annual Federal Tax Return for Agricultural Employees. Employers must maintain supporting documentation for the claimed credit.

The administrator of a group health plan or other entity must notify certain assistance-eligible individuals of the extension by Feb. 17, 2010. For assistance-eligible individuals whose nine months of subsidy had already ended, the new law also provides an extended period for the retroactive payment of their 35 percent share during a transition period.

There is much more information about the COBRA subsidy, including questions and answers for employers, and for employees or former employees, on the COBRA pages of IRS.gov.

Some people who are eligible for the COBRA subsidy also qualify for the health coverage tax credit (HCTC) and may want to choose this more generous benefit, instead. The HCTC pays 80 percent of health insurance premiums for those who qualify. Eligible individuals must be receiving Trade Adjustment Assistance benefits or be between the ages fo 55 and 65 and receiving pension payments from the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. Individuals must also be enrolled in a qualified health plan. See more at HCTC: Eligibility Requirements and How to Receive the HCTC.

Related Items:

December 7, 2009

The small business credit crunch and unemployment

Filed under: Business, Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 5:41 pm

These two elements — little to no credit for small business and a difficult rebound from deep unemployment — are integrally tied together. Small business jobs are the backbone of the U.S. economy, and small businesses need revolving credit to help ensure cash flow. When your accounts receivable go from averaging 20 days to averaging 45 days, ongoing business expenses become an issue.

I know several small businesses that are currently in a state where invoices are getting paid late so in consequence the companies pay late and the entire cycle helps no one. With banks not providing credit to worthy small businesses the entire system is being ground down by a lack of liquidity.

This example is almost beyond belief and perfectly illustrates where the banking industry — both local and national — is doing real damage to the economy’s small business backbone.

From the link:

Veteran Chicago restaurateur Ivan Matsunaga needs a $300,000 loan to finance a renovation of his flagship pizza restaurant into a higher-end eatery. The revamp is required for his lease renewal, but it will also create job opportunities: Matsunaga estimates that he’ll need five additional staffers to run the updated restaurant.

Three banks turned down his loan request — including a community bank Matsunaga personally invested in at its launch three years ago.

“How perplexing is it that they would not reciprocate? What type of banking environment exists where they currently have $100,000 of my money and yet they won’t give me a loan?,” Matsunaga asked at the hearing. “If my bank were to approve my loan today, I, for one, would create jobs immediately.”

Big banks have shaved more than $10 billion from their small business lending totals over the past six months, which drew sharp criticism from Senators at Wednesday’s hearing. “I know that my situation is not unique,” Matsunaga said. “I have had numerous discussions with my peers who are frustrated by these same issues.”

December 3, 2009

Wait a sec on that dire unemployment news …

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:55 pm

The most recent Beige Book from the Fed finds unemployment the big problem in the current economy, but maybe better times are coming sooner than later. I’m still not going to hold my breath.

From the second link:

The number of U.S. workers filing new applications for jobless insurance unexpectedly fell last week to the lowest level in more than 14 months, government data showed on Thursday, pointing to a moderation in the pace of job losses.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits slipped 5,000 to a seasonally adjusted 457,000 in the week ended November 28 from a downwardly revised 462,000 in the prior week, the Labor Department said. Claims have dropped for five consecutive weeks.

Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast claims rising to 480,000 from a previously reported 466,000.

The report covers the Thanksgiving holiday and a Labor Department economist said both actual and seasonally adjusted claims were down.

Modest economic improvement according to latest Beige Book

Filed under: Business, Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:44 pm

Of course unemployment remains the fly in this economic ointment.

From the link:

The US Federal Reserve has said that economic activities have improved modestly in recent months, primarily helped by better consumer spending.

However, the labour market situation continued to remain weak with rising layoffs and sluggish hiring activities, the apex bank noted.

The Federal Reserve’s Beige Book, which provides a snapshot of economic activities in the 12 districts, said “economic conditions have generally improved modestly” in recent months.

In eight districts, the activities witnessed improvement while it remained little or mixed in the remaining four.

November 24, 2009

Unemployment taxes an impediment to small business job creation

This is one of those chicken/egg scenarios, but states are hurting for revenue, unemployment remains high and small business are being dissuaded from hiring because those broke states are cranking up the unemployment taxes on those small businesses. The end result? Small businesses are going to put of taking on new employees right at a time when jobs are needed. There’s no great answer here, but I’m going out on a limb and the discussion needs to be begin in state capitals around the nation.

From the link:

Employers already are squeezed by tight credit, rising health care costs, wary consumers and a higher minimum wage. Now, the surging jobless rate is imposing another cost. It’s forcing higher state taxes on companies to pay for unemployment insurance claims.

Some employers say the extra costs make them less likely to hire. That could be a worrisome sign for the economic recovery, because small businesses create about 60 percent of new jobs. Other employers say they’ll cut or freeze pay.

November 20, 2009

New jobs bill this year?

Filed under: Business, Politics — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:53 pm

There’s not much time before the recess, but looks like some measure of employment relief could happen.

From the link:

Continued rising unemployment in the U.S. is prompting House Democratic leaders to consider a jobs bill before lawmakers leave Washington and end the first session of the 111th Congress on December 18, according to House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md. Hoyer told reporters on November 17 that a second stimulus bill is unlikely, but lawmakers might consider taking some type of legislative action to boost jobs. He declined to list specific proposals that might be under consideration.

November 16, 2009

Business tax credit for job creation

Filed under: Business, Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:56 pm

A good idea that ought to become a law:

A Democratic US senator on Friday unveiled details of a plan to create a tax credit for businesses that create jobs, as the White House has called a December summit to tackle sky-high unemployment

Senator Russ Feingold’s proposal would establish a tax credit over the next two years for businesses that hire new employees, expand work hours for current employees, or raise worker pay, his office said.

“While there’s no easy way to solve the unemployment problem, the jobs tax credit would be a targeted and responsible tool to help businesses hire workers and bring down unemployment,” according to Feingold.

The credit would amount to 15 percent of eligible payroll for 2010 and 10 percent in 2011 — and would exclude pay increases for very highly salaried workers, as well as the wages of firm owners or family members.

Job search and identity scams

Filed under: Business, Technology — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:03 pm

There are a lot of people searching for employment right now and there are plenty of scammers after the information job searchers are providing. Particularly identity theft artists. Resumes, and if it gets this far, employment applications are a treasure trove for ID theft crooks. A close acquaintance of mine had to ferret out a pretty significant ID theft threat while looking for work just last week.

These things have been around forever, and I usually get to laugh at, or get annoyed by at least a few each year since as a freelance writer one way I increase my client base (and the least preferred method compared to clients seeking me out or getting referrals from other clients or colleagues) is responding to blind ads seeking freelance content or other writing services. A lot of these ads are just horseshit companies looking to not pay for any services rendered, but every once in a while I come across a full-blown scam. Typically not very veiled for anyone with any amount of background in online scams.

The moral here? If you are looking for work, don’t let your situation allow you to let your guard down against scams and identity theft threats.

From the first link:

“We have seen a large proliferation of these scams over the past six to nine months because of the employment situation,” says Lyn Chitow Oaks, chief marketing officer of TrustedID, which provides identity-theft protection services to individuals, families and businesses.

She notes that identity thieves are targeting job seekers because they’re vulnerable and willing to share personal information as part of the job search process.

Two types of job search scams are most common, according to Oaks. One is a phishing scam, where identity theft perpetrators e-mail would-be victims to tell them about potential jobs and opportunities to make extra money. The e-mails direct recipients to websites that identity thieves have created specifically for gathering personal information, just as if it were a job application, says Oaks.

These fake applications request all the information job seekers would expect to provide, such as their name, address and phone number, as well as for information they may not expect to offer so early in the process, she adds, such as their Social Security number, permission to conduct a background check and bank account information.

“They tell you they need your bank account information so they can make sure your check can be direct deposited,” she says, adding that they’ll sometimes go so far as to say that they’ll place money in your account and then remove it just to make sure it work

November 13, 2009

The Worker, Homeownership, and Business Assistance Act of 2009

This is a pretty nice rundown on the bill’s specs.

From the link:

The Worker, Homeownership, and Business Assistance Act of 2009 (H.R. 3548) was signed into law by President Obama on November 6, 2009. The bill began as a simple extension of unemployment insurance benefits but then several tax provisions were added to it, namely the expansion and extension of both the home buyer tax credit and the net operating loss (NOL) carryback rules.

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