Unemployment up 61% from a year ago, jobless claims at record highest level since records have been kept starting in 1967

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — The number of jobless American workers receiving unemployment checks rose to the highest level since the government began keeping records in 1967. A Labor Department spokesman said the number of Americans drawing jobless benefits for a week or longer rose to 4,776,000 in the week ended Jan. 17, the latest data available. The number eclipses the prior mark set in November 1982, when 4,713,000 million Americans drew benefits. Americans who moved to collect their first unemployment checks rose for the third consecutive week, to 588,000, according to a government report released Thursday. The number of Americans filing for unemployment claims has surged by 61% from this time a year ago. The Labor Department said initial filings for state jobless benefits rose by 3,000 for the week ended Jan. 24 from a downwardly revised 585,000 claims filed the prior week. Economists polled by Briefing.com expected the reading to fall to 575,000 claims. Ian Shepherdson, an economist at High Frequency Economics, said that initial claims data are a proxy for the trends in gross firings. Mass firings hit a seven-year high in 2008. “The net result of this is soaring unemployment, and we see no chance of this picture changing in the foreseeable future. We expect net job losses of about three million through the first half of this year,” Shepherdson said. The four-week average of new unemployment claims, used to smooth fluctuations in data, grew by 24,250 to 542,500 from the prior week. A year ago, it was at 333,750. Over the previous four weeks, the number of people on unemployment for one week or more increased by 66,500 to an average of 4.63 million a week, the government said. A year ago, it was at 2.70 million.

U.S. consumer prices fell in November at the fastest rate since 1932, the darkest days of the Great Depression, the Labor Department reported Tuesday

MarketWatch.com reported the following today:

“U.S. consumer prices fell in November at the fastest rate since 1932, the darkest days of the Great Depression, the Labor Department reported Tuesday, as prices for energy, commodities and airline fares plunged across the country.

The U.S. consumer price index fell by a seasonally adjusted 1.7%, the department reported, the biggest drop since the government began adjusting the CPI for seasonal factors in 1947.
But on a non-seasonally adjusted basis, the CPI fell by 1.9%, the biggest decline since January 1932, at the nadir of the Great Depression. Read MarketWatch First Take commentary.
“This is scary stuff,” said Mike Schenk, an economist for Credit Union National Association. “We are teetering on the brink of a massive downward spiral. Deflation is a threat.”
The seasonally adjusted core CPI was flat in November. Read the report.
Economists surveyed by MarketWatch were expecting the CPI to fall by 1.4%. They forecast that the core CPI would rise by 0.1%. See Economic Calendar.
Energy prices declined by a seasonally adjusted 17%, the most since February 1957. Gasoline prices plunged by 29.5% in November, the most since the government began keeping records in February 1967. Fuel oil prices dropped by 7.2%. Commodities prices declined by 4.1% in November.
The CPI data is one of the last pieces of the economic puzzle that the Federal Reserve will have to mull before its announcement about interest rates later Tuesday. The policy-making Federal Open Market Committee is almost universally expected to cut its target for overnight interest rates to 0.5% from 1%….”

Bank of America to cut 30-35,000 jobs, Citigroup to cut 52,000 jobs.

Bloomberg reported this on Thursday, here is an excerpt:

“Dec. 11 (Bloomberg) — Bank of America Corp., the third- largest U.S. bank, said it plans to cut 30,000 to 35,000 positions over the next three years because of its acquisition of Merrill Lynch & Co. and the weak economic environment.

The final number of job cuts won’t be decided until early next year, the Charlotte, North Carolina-based bank said in a statement today. The companies together employ 307,000 people, including about 60,000 at New York-based Merrill Lynch. Bank of America spokesman Scott Silvestri said the “vast majority” of job cuts will come next year.

All lines of businesses and staff units will be affected, and “as many reductions as possible” will be made through attrition, Bank of America said. The companies have already begun dismissing equity analysts, according to a person briefed on the changes.

“They are saying that even though we’ve got the best efficiency of any large bank holding company, we still have extra costs,” said Christopher Whalen, managing director of Institutional Risk Analytics, a market-research firm. “They still have to throw more stuff out of the boat because they have to stay afloat.”

Bank of America is the latest firm to announce a workforce reduction amid the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Citigroup Inc. is planning to eliminate 52,000 jobs in the next year….”

Citigroup CEO announces bank will eliminate 52,000 jobs over the next year.

Nov. 17 (Originally published by Bloomberg) (Read whole article, click here)Citigroup Inc. Chief Executive Officer Vikram Pandit said the bank will eliminate 52,000 jobs over the next year, twice the target announced last month, as loan losses surge and the economy shrinks.

The reductions, disclosed at a meeting with employees in New York, include 9,100 positions the bank began eliminating in October and about 16,900 announced today. Citigroup will shed a further 26,000 positions through asset sales, 7,900 more than in the previous plan. The total represents 15 percent of Citigroup’s workforce of about 352,000.

Pandit, 51, is accelerating cost cuts after the bank’s stock price plunged 19 percent last week amid concern a global recession will curb new lending just as more home and credit- card loans are becoming delinquent. With bad-loan costs running $4 billion above last year’s levels, profits remain elusive following four straight quarterly losses.

“G 20″ World Leaders meet in Washington D.C. to discuss global response to worst worldwide financial crisis in over 70 years.

The following is an excerpt from an article found here at Reuters today:

By David Lawder and Emmanuel Jarry

“WASHINGTON (Reuters) – World leaders pledged rapid action on Saturday to rescue a weakening global economy from the worst financial crisis in over 70 years and agreed to give emerging nations more say in running financial affairs.

The Group of 20 leaders from major industrialized and developing countries set out plans to toughen oversight for major global banks, study limits on banker pay and try for a breakthrough by year end in global trade talks — all part of a roadmap to rebuild a financial system crippled by the credit crisis.

“We must lay the foundation for reform to help ensure that a global crisis such as this one does not happen again,” they said in a statement after their first-ever summit.

They vowed to make progress before a second summit by the end of April.”

The New York Times reported on the global financial emergency “G20″ summit, here.

Sun Microsystems CFO says company will cut 1500 to 2500 US jobs this quarter.

“Sun Chief Financial Officer Mike Lehman [also] said the company will cut 1,500 to 2,500 jobs. The company had 34,400 employees at the end of the quarter.”……”The U.S. economy presented Sun with significant challenges in the third quarter, masking our progress in developing nations and economies across the world,” said Chief Executive Jonathan Schwartz in a statement.

Sun reported a net loss of $34 million, or 4 cents per share, a decline from net income of $67 million in the year-earlier quarter; the figure includes charges of about 4 cents per share from the acquisition of open-source database company MySQL. Revenue decreased $17 million to $3.266 billion, a notch below the $3.4 billion expected by analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial.

In after-hours trading, Sun’s stock dropped $2.48, or 15 percent, to $13.85.”

DHL shipping company to cut 9,500 U.S. jobs, focus ‘entirely on international offerings.’

DHL to Cut 9,500 U.S. Jobs

DHL said it would significantly reduce its air and ground operations in the United States and cut 9,500 jobs within the country. It said it would discontinue U.S. domestic-only air and ground products on Jan. 30 to focus entirely on its international offerings. The decision could greatly scale back a possible venture between Deutsche Post‘s DHL and UPS….” (click here to read article).

scarcity

scarcity

U.S. unemployment soars to 14-year high, over a million jobs lost in the past year.

Patrice Hill reported this in the Washington Times today: (Click here to read her article.)

“Unemployment soared last month to a 14-year high, the Labor Department reported Friday, prompting the head of the panel that officially dates U.S. economic cycles to say there is no doubt that a recession is under way.

Businesses slashed nearly a quarter-million jobs, pushing the unemployment rate to 6.5 percent, the department said. The losses were deep and widespread across nearly every industry from retailing and office work to construction and manufacturing.

Only the health care, education, mining and government sectors avoided the job slaughter and posted modest employment gains.

“The evidence [of a recession] is more than compelling,” Robert Hall, the Stanford University economist who heads the National Bureau of Economic Research’s business-cycle dating committee, told Bloomberg News. “It’s conclusive, in my personal opinion.”

The full committee of eight economists has not officially declared that America is in a recession, however.

The 240,000 jobs eliminated last month came on top of a revised 284,000 job cut in September — far more than originally reported. Together, the figures show how the economy virtually fell off a cliff at the onset of a severe credit crisis that cut off financing for consumers and businesses alike while it caused the failure of a major Wall Street firm and banks in quick succession.

Manufacturers laid off a stunning 90,000 workers, while construction employment fell by another 49,000 and retailers trimmed staff by 38,000.

“We’re in the teeth of recession,” said John Silvia, chief economist at Wachovia Securities. He said the job losses will weigh heavily on consumers, who already have pulled back dramatically from spending in the past two months. And they point to a big drop in the economy in the final quarter of the year.

Harm Bandholz, economist at Unicredit Markets, noted that the job losses in the past two months amount to more than a half-million and bring the job losses for the year so far to more than 1 million – clearly pointing to a profound recession.”

Thomas L. Freidman’s Op-Ed in today’s New York Times, a lucid appraisal of an absurd VP selection for McCain and Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes: “I like paying taxes. With them I buy civilization.”

The following is an Op-Ed piece by ‘From Beirut to Jerusalem’ author, Thomas L. Freidman, published today in the New York Times: (see the original by clicking here.)

Criticizing Sarah Palin is truly shooting fish in a barrel. But given the huge attention she is getting, you can’t just ignore what she has to say. And there was one thing she said in the debate with Joe Biden that really sticks in my craw. It was when she turned to Biden and declared: “You said recently that higher taxes or asking for higher taxes or paying higher taxes is patriotic. In the middle class of America, which is where Todd and I have been all of our lives, that’s not patriotic.”

What an awful statement. Palin defended the government’s $700 billion rescue plan. She defended the surge in Iraq, where her own son is now serving. She defended sending more troops to Afghanistan. And yet, at the same time, she declared that Americans who pay their fair share of taxes to support all those government-led endeavors should not be considered patriotic.

I only wish she had been asked: “Governor Palin, if paying taxes is not considered patriotic in your neighborhood, who is going to pay for the body armor that will protect your son in Iraq? Who is going to pay for the bailout you endorsed? If it isn’t from tax revenues, there are only two ways to pay for those big projects — printing more money or borrowing more money. Do you think borrowing money from China is more patriotic than raising it in taxes from Americans?” That is not putting America first. That is selling America first.

Sorry, I grew up in a very middle-class family in a very middle-class suburb of Minneapolis, and my parents taught me that paying taxes, while certainly no fun, was how we paid for the police and the Army, our public universities and local schools, scientific research and Medicare for the elderly. No one said it better than Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes: “I like paying taxes. With them I buy civilization.”

I can understand someone saying that the government has no business bailing out the financial system, but I can’t understand someone arguing that we should do that but not pay for it with taxes. I can understand someone saying we have no business in Iraq, but I can’t understand someone who advocates staying in Iraq until “victory” declaring that paying taxes to fund that is not patriotic.

How in the world can conservative commentators write with a straight face that this woman should be vice president of the United States? Do these people understand what serious trouble our country is in right now?

We are in the middle of an economic perfect storm, and we don’t know how much worse it’s going to get. People all over the world are hoarding cash, and no bank feels that it can fully trust anyone it is doing business with anywhere in the world. Did you notice that the government of Iceland just seized the country’s second-largest bank and today is begging Russia for a $5 billion loan to stave off “national bankruptcy.” What does that say? It tells you that financial globalization has gone so much farther and faster than regulatory institutions could govern it. Our crisis could bankrupt Iceland! Who knew?

And we have not yet even felt the full economic brunt here. I fear we may be at that moment just before the tsunami hits — when the birds take flight and the insects stop chirping because their acute senses can feel what is coming before humans can. At this moment, only good governance can save us. I am not sure that this crisis will end without every government in every major economy guaranteeing the creditworthiness of every financial institution it regulates. That may be the only way to get lending going again. Organizing something that big and complex will take some really smart governance and seasoned leadership.

Whether or not I agree with John McCain, he is of presidential timber. But putting the country in the position where a total novice like Sarah Palin could be asked to steer us through possibly the most serious economic crisis of our lives is flat out reckless. It is the opposite of conservative.

And please don’t tell me she will hire smart advisers. What happens when her two smartest advisers disagree?

And please also don’t tell me she is an “energy expert.” She is an energy expert exactly the same way the king of Saudi Arabia is an energy expert — by accident of residence. Palin happens to be governor of the Saudi Arabia of America — Alaska — and the only energy expertise she has is the same as the king of Saudi Arabia’s. It’s about how the windfall profits from the oil in their respective kingdoms should be divided between the oil companies and the people.

At least the king of Saudi Arabia, in advocating “drill baby drill,” is serving his country’s interests — by prolonging America’s dependence on oil. My problem with Palin is that she is also serving his country’s interests — by prolonging America’s dependence on oil. That’s not patriotic. Patriotic is offering a plan to build our economy — not by tax cuts or punching more holes in the ground, but by empowering more Americans to work in productive and innovative jobs. If Palin has that kind of a plan, I haven’t heard it.”

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