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Buying bonds instead of Final Four tickets

Fri, 2014-04-04 13:36

Tomorrow, the Wisconsin Badgers take on the Kentucky Wildcats, and the Florida Gators play the UConn Huskies. UConn's women's team is also in the running for a national championship.   So it's a big week for the University in Storrs, Connecticut -- because these games coincide with a major bond offering. The city is selling $220 million worth of municipal bonds to fund campus construction.   According to Bloomberg, bond buyers also hoped this might lead to some good seats at this weekend's games.   Sorry, the school says, it's not going to happen.

Pin the week on safety pins

Fri, 2014-04-04 13:35

From the Marketplace Datebook, here's an extended look at what's coming up the week of April 7 (Plus Sunday night. So sue us.):

  • Let's start with dragons. "Game of Thrones" season four finally premiers on Sunday night. Don't lose your head.
  • Actor Russell Crowe turns 50 on Monday. Happy birthday. He's currently starring in "Noah."
  • April 7 is International Beaver Day. To honor those little dam building environmental helpers.
  • On Tuesday the Labor Department releases its monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey and the Senate Finance Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on "Protecting Taxpayers from Incompetent and Unethical Return Preparers."
  • Mid-week, the House Committee on Small Business discusses "The Biggest Tax Problems for Small Businesses." Right. It is tax season. Let's move on.
  • Finally something that helps us get dressed. A brilliant aide for well-appointed fashionistas was patented on April 10, 1849. We can thank inventor Walter Hunt for the safety pin.
  • On Friday the Labor Department issues its Producer Price Index for March, and the International Energy Agency releases its monthly oil market report on supply and demand around the globe.
  • But that's no fun. Let's end the week with International Louie Louie Day because, well, because people love to play that party song.

Never mind Letterman. What about his band?

Fri, 2014-04-04 13:21

The multi-million dollar question in the media world is: Who will get David Letterman’s time slot when the host steps down in 2015? An opening for a late night host also creates an opening for a band. Band leaders of successful shows are well-paid, and the increased exposure they get can open doors.

“It can enhance your chances of being successful at whatever it is that you want to do, simply because a lot of people know who you are,” says Jay Leno’s longtime band leader, Kevin Eubanks.

And for the musicians behind the band leaders, a regular spot in a late night band can be a nice change of pace from a hectic tour schedule.

Mark Garrison: When Letterman announced his retirement on the show, the on-air reaction was quick.

Band leader Paul Shaffer made a fortune playing sidekick and enduring cracks about his Canadian heritage. The exposure he got could open doors for him after the show ends.

Kevin Eubanks: It can enhance your chances of being successful at whatever it is that you want to do, simply because a lot of people know who you are now.

Kevin Eubanks was Jay Leno’s longtime band leader. Getting a slot like that isn’t easy. They just don’t come up that often.

Eubanks: Jay and I, for instance, we just got along. So sometimes it can just be something that simple. That, oh, these two people get along and that would make for good TV.

Music industry analyst Bob Lefsetz points out that it’s about more than band leaders. Behind them are working musicians trying to make a good living in a tricky industry. A job on a talk show can be a welcome break.

Bob Lefsetz: If you can get a gig on a late night show, get paid every night, sleep in your own bed, it’s very appealing.

And when you tour, you can pay bigger venues. But late night opportunities are shrinking, says Bill Carter, author of several books on late night TV.

Bill Carter: Frankly, one of the things I think you might see is a condensed band, because they have tighter budgets than they used to and the bands are expensive.

But don’t look for them to disappear. They play a vital role you don’t see on TV. Eubanks says bands are crucial for keeping the studio audience hyped up.

Eubanks: The audience has all this energy because we gave it to them during the commercials that they wanna release it, because they’re there to have a party.

And there’s now a chance for another band leader to join it. In New York, I'm Mark Garrison, for Marketplace.

About half of America has zero net wealth

Fri, 2014-04-04 12:20
Monday, April 21, 2014 - 05:17 TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images

Trump Tower on 5th Avenue in New York.

Wealth is the value of everything you own: stocks, bonds, your home, your car -- minus your debts. And while income inequality has taken center stage in debates about the growing gap between rich and poor, what's happening with wealth paints an even more staggering picture.

The wealth share of the 0.01 percent, or the top 16,000 families in America, has skyrocketed. That tiny group now owns 12 percent of the wealth in America.

The wealth of the larger one percent  -- and even the .5 percent -- isn't rising.

These days, if you want to be among the biggest winners, says UC Berkeley researcher Gabriel Zucman, who co-wrote a new report on wealth, it helps to be in the 0.1 percent or better.

Around 50 percent of the US population, Zucman said, has zero net wealth. Their debts, effectively, equal their assets. 

Marketplace Morning Report for Monday, April 21, 2014by Noel KingPodcast Title About half of America has zero net wealthStory Type News StorySyndication Flipboard BusinessSlackerSoundcloudStitcherBusiness InsiderSwellPMPApp Respond No

Yes, the Hard Rock Cafe still exists

Fri, 2014-04-04 12:17
Friday, April 4, 2014 - 15:13 Aaron Davidson/Getty Images for Food Network SoBe Wine & Food Festival

Pat LaFrieda Meats hosted by Rachael Ray during the Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival at Beachside at The Ritz Carlton on February 21, 2014 in Miami Beach, Florida. 

There are fewer than ten Planet Hollywood locations still open -- but for the Hard Rock Cafe, life after the recession has been one marked by growth.

And that has to do with their post-recession strategy, says Venessa Wong, a reporter at Bloomberg Businessweek.  The Seminole Tribe of Florida bought the struggling themed restaurant chain in 2007. Since then, the company has focused on building more restaurants overseas and expanding into a line of hotels and casinos.

In the U.S., they’ve also tried to update the brand by changing restaurant décor and playing new music. Wong thinks the changes and growth strategy could very well prove successful.

"As long as they offer tourists a good enough experience while they’re there, they’re probably likely to visit another Hard Rock at another location the next time they’re traveling to a place where it’s hard to find a good hamburger,” Wong said.

Marketplace for Friday April 4, 2014Interview by David GuraPodcast Title: Yes, the Hard Rock Cafe still existsStory Type: InterviewSyndication: SlackerSoundcloudStitcherSwellPMPApp Respond: No

When being cheap isn't worth it

Fri, 2014-04-04 12:16

TLC's reality show ,"Extreme Cheapskates," showcases people who go to, well, extremes to save money. There's the woman who refuses to spend money doing laundry, so she uses a free sample of detergent and  her time in the shower to give her clothes a cleaning of sorts. And then, there's the couple who, as self-described cheapskates, decided to bestow a crib found in a dumpster unto their unborn daughter. 

There is quite a difference between cheap and frugal, according to Daryl Paranada, a reporter for MyBankTracker.com, the differences are pretty clear. 

"Frugality means you're conscious about how you use and spend your hard-earned money," Paranada says. "Being cheap means you want to spend the least amount of money possible, no matter what. And that's not always the best approach to spending money. There are times when being cheap just isn't smart."

Many people try to save money when making home improvements by doing it themselves,  but Paranada says that when undertaking home improvement projects, going the cheap route is not the way to go. 

"Before you take out the hammers and you start a DIY project for your house, you should ask yourself three questions," he says. "First, do I know what I'm doing? Could I hurt myself or my house? And finally, is it worth my time?" 

Paranada also says that there are some things that are worth the money you pay for them. 

"If you think about it, you spend half your time in a mattress and half your time in shoes. A good mattress might cost you about $1000, but it's worth it because in the end it's all about value. What kind of things do you value? What kinds of things might improve your quality of life ," he says. 

For more tips on how to save money without being a miser, see Daryl Paranada's article, "13 Instances When Being Cheap Doesn't Pay Off."

Yes, the Hard Rock Cafe still exists

Fri, 2014-04-04 12:13

There are fewer than ten Planet Hollywood locations still open -- but for the Hard Rock Cafe, life after the recession has been one marked by growth.

And that has to do with their post-recession strategy, says Venessa Wong, a reporter at Bloomberg Businessweek.  The Seminole Tribe of Florida bought the struggling themed restaurant chain in 2007. Since then, the company has focused on building more restaurants overseas and expanding into a line of hotels and casinos.

In the U.S., they’ve also tried to update the brand by changing restaurant décor and playing new music. Wong thinks the changes and growth strategy could very well prove successful.

"As long as they offer tourists a good enough experience while they’re there, they’re probably likely to visit another Hard Rock at another location the next time they’re traveling to a place where it’s hard to find a good hamburger,” Wong said.

PODCAST: March jobs report

Fri, 2014-04-04 09:56
Friday, April 4, 2014 - 09:56 MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

U.S. President Barack Obama walks with an employee in Fred's Pro Hardware, June 3, 2011 in Toledo, Ohio.

Employers hired 192,000 people in March. That's a strong showing, but not quite as high as economists had expected. The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 6.7 percent. 
Christopher Low, chief economist at FTN Financial, joined us to discuss.

Also, it appears the jobs market is improving, slowly but surely. But are things really getting better on the ground? We put that question to Ron Martinez, who owns a sports bar in Los Angeles and says he's been hiring.

Meanwhile, take-out is the theme of the day on Wall Street. GrubHub starts trading on the New York Stock Exchange today. In addition to operating its own food delivery app, GrubHub owns online food delivery site, Seamless. Grubhub shares are priced at $26 a piece -- valuing the company at about $2 billion. Why is Grubhub such an attractive investment? Marketplace's Jeff Tyler takes a look.

Marketplace Morning Report for Friday April 4, 2014by Stacey Vanek SmithPodcast Title: PODCAST: March jobs reportSyndication: All in onePMPApp Respond: No

Never mind Letterman. What about his band?

Fri, 2014-04-04 09:23
Friday, April 4, 2014 - 16:21 Courtesy of CBS

David Letterman's band.

The multi-million dollar question in the media world is: Who will get David Letterman’s time slot when the host steps down in 2015? An opening for a late night host also creates an opening for a band. Band leaders of successful shows are well-paid, and the increased exposure they get can open doors.

“It can enhance your chances of being successful at whatever it is that you want to do, simply because a lot of people know who you are,” says Jay Leno’s longtime band leader, Kevin Eubanks.

And for the musicians behind the band leaders, a regular spot in a late night band can be a nice change of pace from a hectic tour schedule.

Marketplace for Friday April 4, 2014

Mark Garrison: When Letterman announced his retirement on the show, the on-air reaction was quick.

Band leader Paul Shaffer made a fortune playing sidekick and enduring cracks about his Canadian heritage. The exposure he got could open doors for him after the show ends.

Kevin Eubanks: It can enhance your chances of being successful at whatever it is that you want to do, simply because a lot of people know who you are now.

Kevin Eubanks was Jay Leno’s longtime band leader. Getting a slot like that isn’t easy. They just don’t come up that often.

Eubanks: Jay and I, for instance, we just got along. So sometimes it can just be something that simple. That, oh, these two people get along and that would make for good TV.

Music industry analyst Bob Lefsetz points out that it’s about more than band leaders. Behind them are working musicians trying to make a good living in a tricky industry. A job on a talk show can be a welcome break.

Bob Lefsetz: If you can get a gig on a late night show, get paid every night, sleep in your own bed, it’s very appealing.

And when you tour, you can pay bigger venues. But late night opportunities are shrinking, says Bill Carter, author of several books on late night TV.

Bill Carter: Frankly, one of the things I think you might see is a condensed band, because they have tighter budgets than they used to and the bands are expensive.

But don’t look for them to disappear. They play a vital role you don’t see on TV. Eubanks says bands are crucial for keeping the studio audience hyped up.

Eubanks: The audience has all this energy because we gave it to them during the commercials that they wanna release it, because they’re there to have a party.

And there’s now a chance for another band leader to join it. In New York, I'm Mark Garrison, for Marketplace.

by Mark GarrisonPodcast Title: Never mind Letterman. What about his band? Story Type: News StorySyndication: SlackerSoundcloudStitcherSwellPMPApp Respond: No

Ford's China conundrum: Big profits, bribery allegations

Fri, 2014-04-04 09:04

At the end of Ford’s assembly line in Chongqing, Plant Manager Greg Brown is counting cars. “If we stand here an hour, we should count 63 cars going by here,” Brown says, peering at a digital sign above us displaying the number of cars that have come off the line already today. “We’re scheduled to build 1,281 vehicles today.”

Ford sold its first passenger car in China in 2003. Last year, it sold close to a million.

Most of them are assembled here in the Southwestern Chinese metropolis of Chongqing, Ford’s largest manufacturing hub outside Michigan. It’s a joint venture with Chinese automaker Chang’an. “In Chongqing, we’re in a fantastic spot, because the growing auto market is out here in the middle and in the West,” says Scott Chang, spokesman for Ford. “So being in Chongqing gives us a great advantage.”

Another advantage is a near endless supply of cheap labor. The Chongqing region is home to low wages, and tens of millions of farmers eager to make more money at a factory close to home. The twenty-first century autoworker is someone like Liu Chan. He's a short, thin assembly line manager wearing a navy blue work suit emblazoned with the joint venture’s official name Chang’an Ford. “I work at the final stage of the assembly line, making adjustments to vehicles coming off the line,” says Liu inside the plant’s break room.

Liu says he works eight hours a day, with few chances for overtime. He has two kids, he owns a Ford Focus, and his wife works here, too. Ford has handpicked Liu to speak with me, and managers won’t let him discuss salary, overtime rates, no numbers.

“But this is Marketplace,” I say to his managers, “we do the numbers.”

Nope, says Ford – those numbers are secret.

So after my day at Ford is through, I return to the factory gates without the looming presence of Ford management, where other workers help me do the numbers.

“My base salary is higher than average - a little over 1,800 yuan a month,” says a worker named Xu.

His salary is equal to $1.80 an hour. Xu works on the assembly line at the plant. He shows me his Ford ID badge, but he asks that his full name not be used. Xu says with overtime and bonuses, he makes around $10,000 (U.S.) a year – enough to buy a modest apartment nearby for his wife, child and his wife’s parents.

He says he feels lucky to have this job. “The workload is very demanding, hours are long, and it’s very tiring,” says Xu, “But my salary is very high compared to work at any other factory around here.”

Xu says getting a job at Ford is so competitive that some people resort to bribing employees in Ford’s HR department just to secure a position at the plant. “It’s pretty common for the most coveted jobs at the company like the quality control department,” says Xu. “They usually have to pay between 3,000 to 5,000 yuan," which works out to be $500-900. “If you’re a woman, it’ll cost you more than double that.”

Xu says that’s because women are generally looking for less labor-intensive but highly coveted administrative roles. Xu says paying for positions at Ford was common a few years ago, but lately it’s less so because of the increasing amount of overtime required to keep up with demand. “I know one person who paid 5,000 yuan to get a job here,” says Xu, “But then he was assigned to work in the welding workshop – a really tough job. He wanted to quit, but he had to stick around to earn back the bribe he had paid.”

Xu says Ford management has made it clear to employees that bribery is illegal and if they knew about this, they’d put a stop to it. But Xu says this would be challenging for the foreign automaker. “There’s a Chinese saying: There are rules that come from above and there are solutions down here on the ground,” Xu says with a laugh.

Ford may not be alone: Marketplace discovered online posts in China by middlemen and job seekers indicating coveted jobs were for sale inside other foreign automakers like Volkswagen and General Motors. Another Ford worker, named Wang – who also didn’t want to give his full name – says he too knows people at Ford who paid bribes for their jobs. He says the problem doesn’t emanate from Ford, but from China. “You might not do this sort of thing in the US, but here in China, bribing someone to get something you want is completely normal and inevitable,” says Wang with a shrug.

Not all the Ford workers Marketplace spoke to in Chongqing talked about others who had paid for positions at the plant. Several assembly line workers said they had never heard of such a thing.

In a written statement to Marketplace, Ford said: “We take these allegations very seriously and have initiated an investigation. Any behavior that violates our policies, such as the alleged behavior, would result in immediate dismissal.”

James McGregor, head of the China region for APCO Worldwide and author of “One Billion Customers: Lessons from the front lines of doing business in China,” says it usually takes foreign companies years to get used to the scale of corruption in China. “Everything you do, every transaction, every deal, every move, every permit, there’s just so many interfaces with the government,” says McGregor.

And at every step, he says, somebody’s taking money. “So when you get into the private companies, that culture that will infect it.”

McGregor’s advice for foreign companies who find this sort of corruption inside their China operation? Don’t be soft.

“You should fire people and you should do it very publicly, and you should turn them over to police authorities,” says McGregor. “Unfortunately what happens in foreign companies a lot is they’ll investigate corruption, and then they’ll quietly pay the people off to go away and inflict some other company because they don’t want the embarrassment.”

Another challenge for companies like Ford is they’re required by Chinese law to partner with a Chinese company. Ford’s Chongqing plant is a 50/50 joint venture with Chang’an, one of China’s big four automakers. Often, Chinese partners bring their own corporate culture to the mix – which can include practices like taking bribes.

Ford employee Xu says many of his colleagues at Chongqing’s Ford plant came from one of the plants owned by the Chinese partner – he says the benefits and pay at Ford are much better. And Xu says lucky for him, he didn’t have to pay to get a job he liked.

Data compiled by Stella Xie.

Why the 'Internet of Things' is still fragile

Fri, 2014-04-04 09:01
Friday, April 4, 2014 - 16:56 George Frey/Getty Images News

A Nest thermostat being adjusted.

In the world of the Internet of Things, every device from your refrigerator to your thermostat seems smart. The idea is, we humans don’t have to set temperatures or see if we’ve run out of milk because the devices will do it for us.

It’s all supposed to be seamless. Until it’s not.

And that brings us to Nest, which is halting sales of its Nest Protect fire alarm and smoke detector. The company said the fire alarm's “wave function,” which allows you to turn off false alarms, can, under certain circumstances, delay an alarm going off in a real fire. 

It appears that the "Internet of Things" isn’t making devices as smart or as seamless as promised. The reason is simple: It's still the early days for the Internet of Things, said Jeremey Jaech, the CEO of SNUPI technologies. He said right now, the business landscape is like the wild west.

"And it’s not at all clear who’s going to win," Jaech said. 

Jaech said there are lots of different start-ups producing almost as many varieties of software and hardware to power the Internet of Things. But these products don’t always speak the same language. And that often means you have to start dealing with a human being in customer support.

"What I would expect to happen, because it’s happened in virtually every other industry, is that you start to see consolidation occur, and standardization will come," Jaech said. 

When winners emerge, everyone in the industry starts speaking the same languages. The technology becomes more seamless, and so the help line becomes less necessary -- maybe.

"There’s a gap between the promise of the technology and the reality of the messiness of our lives," said Jonathan Gaw, an an analyst at IDC. He points to the Nest thermometer, which he owns.

"The promise of the Nest is that it recognizes movements in the household so it can adjust the temperature accordingly," Gaw said. 

But Gaw’s thermostat is hidden behind his big screen TV and so it can't monitor movements. Tony Costa is an analyst at Forrester and he said companies need to start adjusting expectations.

"Consumer electronic companies are used developing devices if something goes wrong with them, it’ll ruin your day," Costa said. "You know if your iphone crashes, it’s kind of a bummer."

But if your fire alarm crashes, that could be fatal. Costa said, these companies are known for pushing the envelope. But when it comes to wiring our lives, they might want something less glitzy but more dependable ... or maybe just a human who can help them out.

Marketplace for Friday April 4, 2014by Queena KimPodcast Title: Why the 'Internet of Things' is still fragileStory Type: News StorySyndication: SlackerSoundcloudStitcherSwellPMPApp Respond: No

What would full employment feel like?

Fri, 2014-04-04 08:53
Friday, April 4, 2014 - 16:51 John Moore/Getty Images

Applicants line up to speak to prospective employers at a job fair on June 11, 2012 in New York City. 

New jobs numbers show the national unemployment rate is holding steady at 6.7 percent.

The hope is that the number will continue to fall. Borrowing a line from Ludacris, the question for the unemployment rate is: “How low can you go?”

The unemployment rate can’t get to zero. It’s impossible. There will always be people entering the workforce, or between jobs. But just how low the unemployment rate can go is really tough to answer.

“To me, a fair definition of full employment in the United States today would be unemployment under 4 percent,” said Robert Pollin, an economics professor at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

Economists disagree about the unemployment rate that will signal the U.S. has achieved to full employment. Some say it’s 5.5 percent, others say it could get down to 2 percent.

There’s more agreement on what a world of full employment feels like. “People who want a job are ready and willing to work. They will find a job,” said L. Randall Wray, an economics professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

It would be an economy where you can feel good about the chances of getting that next job. Your children will be able to get work when they leave school. You’ll be able to plan for the future a little better—maybe buy a house.

“You don’t have to take the worst jobs that come along, just out of fear that you can’t find something better,” Wray said.

In an economy of full-employment, you, the worker, have more control. There are fewer people out there looking to replace you. “When you are at full employment,” said Jared Bernstein, a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “you are in a situation where employers actually need to bid wages up to get and to keep the workers they need, even for low wage workers.”

At full employment, Bernstein said, we’d likely all get paid more. At the bottom, the middle, and the top of the pay scale.

Marketplace for Friday April 4, 2014 Raghu Manavalan/Marketplace The unemployment rate, from 2008 to March 2014by Adriene HillPodcast Title: What would full employment feel like?Story Type: News StorySyndication: SlackerSoundcloudStitcherSwellPMPApp Respond: No

Mama may have, Papa may have...

Fri, 2014-04-04 08:13
Friday, April 4, 2014 - 08:57 Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Billie Holiday

 From the Marketplace datebook, here's a look at what's coming up April 7:

Marketplace for Thursday April 3, 2014by Millie JeffersonPodcast Title: Mama may have, Papa may have...Story Type: BlogSyndication: PMPApp Respond: No

PODCAST: March jobs report

Fri, 2014-04-04 06:56

Employers hired 192,000 people in March. That's a strong showing, but not quite as high as economists had expected. The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 6.7 percent. 
Christopher Low, chief economist at FTN Financial, joined us to discuss.

Also, it appears the jobs market is improving, slowly but surely. But are things really getting better on the ground? We put that question to Ron Martinez, who owns a sports bar in Los Angeles and says he's been hiring.

Meanwhile, take-out is the theme of the day on Wall Street. GrubHub starts trading on the New York Stock Exchange today. In addition to operating its own food delivery app, GrubHub owns online food delivery site, Seamless. Grubhub shares are priced at $26 a piece -- valuing the company at about $2 billion. Why is Grubhub such an attractive investment? Marketplace's Jeff Tyler takes a look.

PODCAST: March jobs report

Fri, 2014-04-04 06:56

Employers hired 192,000 people in March. That's a strong showing, but not quite as high as economists had expected. The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 6.7 percent. 
Christopher Low, chief economist at FTN Financial, joined us to discuss.

Also, it appears the jobs market is improving, slowly but surely. But are things really getting better on the ground? We put that question to Ron Martinez, who owns a sports bar in Los Angeles and says he's been hiring.

Meanwhile, take-out is the theme of the day on Wall Street. GrubHub starts trading on the New York Stock Exchange today. In addition to operating its own food delivery app, GrubHub owns online food delivery site, Seamless. Grubhub shares are priced at $26 a piece -- valuing the company at about $2 billion. Why is Grubhub such an attractive investment? Marketplace's Jeff Tyler takes a look.

Walking through the latest jobs numbers

Fri, 2014-04-04 06:39

The good news:  The U.S. added 192K jobs in March and the unemployment rate is 6.7%!

The bad news:  The U.S. added only 192K jobs in March and the unemployment rate is still 6.7%. 

More jobs, but fewer than expected

“We were looking for a higher number, maybe 230k,” says ITG chief economist Steve Blitz.  “It’s a spin your wheels economy; it is expanding and that’s better than contracting, but we’re not seeing anything to suggest the economy is going to accelerate to a faster pace of growth beyond 2, 2.5%.”

The new jobs don’t pay a lot

The new jobs include a lot of temp positions (29,000),  in sectors that don’t necessarily pay super well:  Restaurants (30,000), ambulatory health care (20,000) including home nursing, Construction (19,000). 

“It’s a great thing that people are finding employment,” says Blitz, “but they’re not the kind of high wage jobs that are going to generate the kind of spending that many are anticipating.”  Including, he says, people at the Federal Reserve.  

Some nice things

The number of long term unemployed (people out of work for 27 weeks and over) is down over the month, and the year. In March of 2013 there were 4.576 million long term unemployed people, in March of 2014 there were 3.739 million.  In February of 2014 we were at 3.849 million.

The long term unemployed are also making up a smaller percentage of all unemployed people.  (35.8% this March compared with 39.1% last March, and 37% in February)

Some major revisions

The Bureau of Labor Statistics adjusted some of its previous estimates.  In January the economy added 144,000 jobs (not 113,000 as originally estimated), and in February the economy added 197,000 jobs (not the 129,000 the BLS originally reported).

A milestone and a mile off

By one measure, we have now surpassed the number of private sector jobs we had at the pre-recession peak in January 2008.  Back then, the private sector was employing 115.977 million people.  In March the private sector employed 116.087 million people. 

But that misses some major points. 

If you look at ALL employment throughout the entire economy - including the public sector - there’s not nearly as much to celebrate.  The pre-recession peak for TOTAL non-farm payroll employment was 138.365 million people back in January of 2008.  In March of 2014, we were tentatively at 137.928 million people with fulltime jobs. So we have 437,000 more to go.

Slow to catch up.  

Nor should we be happy with reaching the number of jobs we had in 2008.  We’ve had lots of new people join the workforce since then. The Hamilton Project (affiliated with the Brookings Institution) keeps track of the “jobs gap,” which is the number of jobs that the U.S. economy needs to create in order to return to pre-recession employment levels while also absorbing the people who enter the labor force each month.  Their estimate for when we'll truly catch up to where we would've been? 2020.

Was it the weather after all?

Remember December and January weren’t so hot... neither in temperature nor in jobs.  Whereas in November we added 274,000 jobs,  in December we added 84,000 and in January we added 113,000 144,000.  February wasn’t great either at 129,000 197,000 jobs created.   (Strikethroughs represent the original BLS estimates, they revised their numbers in the March jobs report).   When those initial numbers came out, a lot of people suspected/hoped the weather was behind the drop in new hires. 

Well, after the revisions, it looks like Old Man Winter didn’t slam job growth as much as it looked like at the time.  Weather was certainly a part of the dip, but looking at the overall trend it would appear that the economy was growing at a very lukewarm pace to begin with.   For the foreseeable future, that's what we're going to be stuck with: 2-2.5% growth, estimates Blitz.

Mama may have, Papa may have...

Fri, 2014-04-04 05:57

 From the Marketplace datebook, here's a look at what's coming up April 7:

Walking through the latest jobs numbers

Fri, 2014-04-04 05:40
Friday, April 4, 2014 - 09:39 MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

U.S. President Barack Obama walks with an employee in Fred's Pro Hardware, June 3, 2011 in Toledo, Ohio.

The good news:  The U.S. added 192K jobs in March and the unemployment rate is 6.7%!

The bad news:  The U.S. added only 192K jobs in March and the unemployment rate is still 6.7%. 

More jobs, but fewer than expected

“We were looking for a higher number, maybe 230k,” says ITG chief economist Steve Blitz.  “It’s a spin your wheels economy; it is expanding and that’s better than contracting, but we’re not seeing anything to suggest the economy is going to accelerate to a faster pace of growth beyond 2, 2.5%.”

The new jobs don’t pay a lot

The new jobs include a lot of temp positions (29,000),  in sectors that don’t necessarily pay super well:  Restaurants (30,000), ambulatory health care (20,000) including home nursing, Construction (19,000). 

“It’s a great thing that people are finding employment,” says Blitz, “but they’re not the kind of high wage jobs that are going to generate the kind of spending that many are anticipating.”  Including, he says, people at the Federal Reserve.  

Some nice things

The number of long term unemployed (people out of work for 27 weeks and over) is down over the month, and the year. In March of 2013 there were 4.576 million long term unemployed people, in March of 2014 there were 3.739 million.  In February of 2014 we were at 3.849 million.

The long term unemployed are also making up a smaller percentage of all unemployed people.  (35.8% this March compared with 39.1% last March, and 37% in February)

Some major revisions

The Bureau of Labor Statistics adjusted some of its previous estimates.  In January the economy added 144,000 jobs (not 113,000 as originally estimated), and in February the economy added 197,000 jobs (not the 129,000 the BLS originally reported).

A milestone and a mile off

By one measure, we have now surpassed the number of private sector jobs we had at the pre-recession peak in January 2008.  Back then, the private sector was employing 115.977 million people.  In March the private sector employed 116.087 million people. 

But that misses some major points. 

If you look at ALL employment throughout the entire economy - including the public sector - there’s not nearly as much to celebrate.  The pre-recession peak for TOTAL non-farm payroll employment was 138.365 million people back in January of 2008.  In March of 2014, we were tentatively at 137.928 million people with fulltime jobs. So we have 437,000 more to go.

Slow to catch up.  

Nor should we be happy with reaching the number of jobs we had in 2008.  We’ve had lots of new people join the workforce since then. The Hamilton Project (affiliated with the Brookings Institution) keeps track of the “jobs gap,” which is the number of jobs that the U.S. economy needs to create in order to return to pre-recession employment levels while also absorbing the people who enter the labor force each month.  Their estimate for when we'll truly catch up to where we would've been? 2020.

Was it the weather after all?

Remember December and January weren’t so hot... neither in temperature nor in jobs.  Whereas in November we added 274,000 jobs,  in December we added 84,000 and in January we added 113,000 144,000.  February wasn’t great either at 129,000 197,000 jobs created.   (Strikethroughs represent the original BLS estimates, they revised their numbers in the March jobs report).   When those initial numbers came out, a lot of people suspected/hoped the weather was behind the drop in new hires. 

Well, after the revisions, it looks like Old Man Winter didn’t slam job growth as much as it looked like at the time.  Weather was certainly a part of the dip, but looking at the overall trend it would appear that the economy was growing at a very lukewarm pace to begin with.   For the foreseeable future, that's what we're going to be stuck with: 2-2.5% growth, estimates Blitz.

What we look for in a monthly jobs reportby Sabri Ben-AchourStory Type: BlogSyndication: PMPApp Respond: No
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