Monday, March 15, 2010

No Jobs And When You Do Find One It is For Less Pay

The New York Times - A YEAR ago, I wrote about a job fair at the Sheraton in Midtown Manhattan, where over 5,000 mainly white collar, middle-aged jobless men and women waited in the cold for more than two hours, hoping to find work. The turnout was a sign of desperate times; until then, the organizer, Tory Johnson, who’s been conducting these fairs in 10 cities for a decade, had never had more than 2,000 people at one of these events.

For that column, I interviewed two dozen boomers. Given recent reports from the federal government and Manpower, the employment agency, that the hiring outlook is beginning to improve, I thought it would be worthwhile to go back to those highly motivated people. Among them are Jo Fagan, a former vice president at Crown publishing who had applied for over 500 jobs in 22 months, and Greg Kramer, 54, a former buyer for a video company, who had attended three job fairs a month, typically arriving three hours before doors opened.

I wanted to know how they’re doing a year later.

The short answer is, of the 16 I interviewed again, 9 describe themselves as still struggling. Eight continue to be unemployed or are working part-time jobs that pay near minimum wage. Several were so concerned about bias, they did not want to give their ages.

Unemployment is slightly lower than the national average for workers older than 45 (8.1 percent). But once those people lose a job, it takes them longer to be rehired. In February, jobless workers over 45 were unemployed an average of 34 weeks versus 27 for younger workers.

And while there are no numbers yet for this recession, in past recessions, the older the workers, the bigger the wage loss when they were rehired, according to Steven Hipple, a Bureau of Labor Statistics economist. After the 1991-93 recession, rehired workers age 55 to 64 on average suffered a 27 percent wage loss, versus a 7 percent loss for workers age 25 to 34. After the 2001-3 recession, workers age 45 to 54 had a 23 percent wage loss when rehired, versus 6 percent for younger workers.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Report Shows Lehman hide Its Financial Problems

The Wall Street Journal - A scathing report by a U.S. bankruptcy-court examiner investigating the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. blames senior executives and auditor Ernst & Young for serious lapses that led to the largest bankruptcy in U.S. history and the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

In the works for more than a year, and costing more than $30 million, the report by court-appointed examiner Anton Valukas paints the most complete picture yet of the free-wheeling culture inside the 158 year-old firm, whose chief executive Richard S. Fuld Jr. prided himself on his ability to manage market risk.

The document runs thousands of pages and contains fresh allegations. In particular, it alleges that Lehman executives manipulated its balance sheet, withheld information from the board, and inflated the value of toxic real estate assets.

Lehman chose to "disregard or overrule the firm's risk controls on a regular basis,'' even as the credit and real-estate markets were showing signs of strain, the report said.

In one instance from May 2008, a Lehman senior vice president alerted management to potential accounting irregularities, a warning the report says was ignored by Lehman auditors Ernst & Young and never raised with the firm's board.

Americans Pare Debt

The Wall Street Journal  - U.S. consumers are shedding debt at the fastest rate in more than six decades, largely through a wave of defaults, in a trend that underscores the depth of their financial troubles but could also help clear the way for a stronger economic recovery.

Total U.S. household debt, including mortgages and credit-card balances, fell 1.7% in 2009 to $13.5 trillion, the Federal Reserve reported Thursday—the first annual drop since records began in 1945. The debt amounts to $43,874 per U.S. resident.

The drop reflects the extent to which job losses and a moribund housing market are forcing people to default on mortgages and other obligations, a painful process that has slammed millions of families and hit banks and investors with hundreds of billions of dollars in losses.

At the same time, the defaults are leaving many people with more cash to spend and save, jump-starting the financial rehabilitation, or "deleveraging," that economists see as a crucial prerequisite to robust growth.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Top News - WSJ & NYT

Borrowers Miss Out in Billions in Savings
The Federal Reserve has pushed mortgage rates to near half-century lows, but millions of U.S. homeowners haven't benefited from that because they can't—or won't—refinance.Falling home prices have left many owners with little or no equity, making it harder to qualify for refinancing. Moreover, stricter lending standards and higher fees by banks and mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and declining incomes have made it tougher and less attractive for borrowers to seek new loans.

Apple sues HTC for Alleged Patent Violations
Apple alleged numerous patent violations in lawsuits against HTC Corp., a Taiwan-based manufacturer of smart phones. HTC makes several phones that run Google's Android operating system, including the Nexus One phone that Google is selling directly to consumers.Apple's two complaints—filed Tuesday in federal court in Delaware and the U.S. International Trade Commission—allege HTC devices, including the Nexus One, infringe a total of 20 Apple patents. The complaints claim the patents cover an array of cellphone technologies, everything from power-management functions to a method of unlocking a handset with a finger swipe on a touch screen.

Private Sector Sheds 20,000 Jobs
Private payrolls fell less than expected in February and layoff announcements dropped to their lowest level since 2006, according to data released Wednesday.Private-sector jobs in the U.S. fell 20,000 in February, according to a national employment report published Wednesday by payroll giant Automatic Data Processing Inc. and consultancy Macroeconomic Advisers.
The ADP loss is below the 50,000 drop projected by economists in a Dow Jones Newswires survey. The estimated change of employment for January 2010 was revised down, from a decline of 22,000 to a decline of 60,000.

U.S. Postal Service Pushes to End Saturday Deliveries
The U.S. Postal Service stepped up its campaign to end Saturday deliveries to help stem losses, but the move met with skepticism that signals an uphill battle for approval by regulators and Congress.Postal officials sought support for a broad restructuring from a gathering in Washington on Tuesday that included big postal clients, congressional aides and postal workers' labor representatives. Without the restructuring, the agency potentially faces $238 billion in projected losses in the next 10 years, Postmaster General John E. Potter warned as he released assessments of the agency's operations from three consulting firms.

Britain Grapples With Debt Problem
LONDON — As Greece’s debt troubles batter the euro, Britain has done its utmost to stay above the fray.
Until now, that is. Suddenly, investors are asking if Britain may soon face its own sovereign debt crisis if the government fails to slash its growing budget deficits quickly enough to escape the contagious fears of financial markets.The pound fell to $1.4954 on Tuesday, its lowest level against the dollar in nearly 10 months. The yield on 10-year government bonds, known as gilts, slid as investors fretted that Parliament would be too fragmented after a crucial election in May to whip Britain’s messy finances back into shape.

WSJ plans New York edition
News Corp. Chairman and Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch confirmed Tuesday that The Wall Street Journal will launch a section devoted to covering New York next month, in the company's first public acknowledgment of the project. The planned section will put the Journal squarely in competition with established New York media organizations, including the New York Times Co. and News Corp.'s own New York Post.The new section comes more than two years after News Corp. bought the Journal's parent company, Dow Jones & Co., and set out to broaden the readership and advertising base of the paper to compete with general-interest national newspapers including the New York Times and Gannett Co.'s USA Today.

Beige Book Finds Economy Improving
U.S. economic conditions kept improving slightly at the start of 2010, but the blizzards that hit the East Coast in February hurt several areas, the Federal Reserve said in a report Wednesday.In its latest beige book report, the Fed said nine out of its 12 regional districts reported that economic activity improved, but in most cases the increases were modest, with activity held back by the Feb. 4-7 and Feb. 9-11 snowstorms.
The beige book is a summary of economic activity prepared for use at the U.S. central bank's next policy-setting meeting, March 16. The latest report, prepared by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, examined economic conditions across the Fed's districts based on information collected on or before Feb. 22.


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