Mike: Today’s top economic reports are both related to housing.  New and existing home sales numbers will be released at 10am and both are expected to point toward less activity on both fronts, which means less housing related employment. If you are looking for some excellent housing related information, I recommend that you look at the following sites, which are also posted on the links section of the page. The authors of these sites were in the forefront of calling the housing bubble, while the MSM  and talking heads were yelling to buy now or be priced out forever:




A few other informative sites include:




Mike: Existing homes sales fell by a larger than expected amount:

– Existing home sales sink by 8.6 percent in November, as prices plunge a record 13.2 percent

WASHINGTON (AP) — A real estate group says sales of existing homes plummeted far more than expected last month as buyers reeled from October’s big plunge on Wall Street. The median sales price fell by the largest amount on record.

The National Association of Realtors said Tuesday that sales of existing homes fell 8.6 percent to an annual rate of 4.49 million in November, from a downwardly revised pace of 4.91 million in October.

Sales had been expected to fall to a pace of 4.9 million units. according to Thomson Reuters.

The median sales price plunged 13.2 percent in November to $181,300, from $208,000 a year ago. That was the lowest price since February 2004 and the biggest year-over-year drop on records going back to 1968

via November existing home sales fall by 8.6 percent: Financial News – Yahoo! Finance.


Mike: New home sales also fell by a larger than expected amout. This bodes ill for any immediate relief for construction, mortgage and real estate employment:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Sales of newly built U.S. single-family homes slowed in November to the weakest levels since 1991, according to Commerce Department data on Tuesday that offered fresh evidence of housing market distress.

The seasonally adjusted annual sales pace of 407,000 was down 2.9 percent from October and was the lowest rate since January, 1991.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast sales would notch a 420,000 rate compared with a downwardly revised 419,000 in October, previously reported as 433,000.

via New home sales fall 2.9 percent in November: Financial News – Yahoo! Finance.


Mike: I don’t like to even post this economic reading, since it is virtually tied to the price of gas. Gas price goes up, sentiment goes down and vice-versa; but here is the report:

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Consumer confidence rose in December due to declining prices, although job losses and falling income continued to weigh on sentiment, a survey showed on Tuesday.

The Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers said its final index reading of confidence for December rose to 60.1 from November’s 55.3.

via Consumers’ mood boosted by lower prices in December: Financial News – Yahoo! Finance.


US firm Textron, world’s leading maker of corporate jets, has expanded its job cuts to 2,200 amid global downturn.

The maker of Cessna aircrafts and Bell helicopters said the figure included previously announced cuts in its Cessna and Bell divisions.

via BBC NEWS | Business | Cessna company loses 2,200 jobs.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — Industrial conglomerate Textron and information technology firm Unisys announced Monday that they would cut a total of 3,500 jobs to reduce costs as economic activity slows.

The Providence, R.I.-based Textron said it would cut about 2,200 job cuts worldwide, expanding on a previously announced restructuring plan. The company said the plan may cost $65 million by the end of the quarter, but save $100 million in 2009.

via Textron, Unisys to cut 3,500 jobs in slowing economy – Dec. 23, 2008 .


Mike: After ignoring economic storm warnings and sinking the country’s financial ship, I don’t think that this group of civil servants should even consider a pay raise at this time.  Send CONgress a message by going to the site listed below and place your congressional pay raise vote


Under existing law, as part of a deal to give up outside income from speeches and other sources, Congress receives an automatic pay raise unless it votes otherwise. In January, Congress will receive a raise of $4700. This will increase the average Member’s pay to about $174,000 or a 2.8% increase.

Does Congress deserve a raise this year? A bill was introduced to reject the pay increase, but it died in committee. Tell Congress what you think about this pay increase.

via Congress.org – .


Hamilton County Commissioners Monday adopted a $1.2 billion budget that reduces general fund spending by more than $32 million and eliminates hundreds of jobs but realigns spending to preserve sheriff patrols in Green, Anderson and Colerain townships.
The new spending plan includes a general-fund budget of $239.4 million, or $1.3 million less than the budget proposed by Hamilton County Administrator Patrick Thompson in November. Thompson’s budget proposed the elimination of 532 jobs. The final number of job cuts isn’t yet known, but won’t likely exceed 500, said Bridget Doherty, an aide to Commissioner David Pepper.

via Hamilton County cuts spending to 1999 levels – Business Courier of Cincinnati: .

The number of worker in line for unemployment benefits because of large-scale job cuts jumped more than 50 percent in Ohio in November, according to a federal report.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 120 dismissals of 50 or more workers in the state last month, up from 58 a year ago, seasonally unadjusted. Resulting first-time unemployment insurance claims hit 11,680, up 59 percent from 7,369 in November 2007.

via Mass job cuts jump in Ohio in November – Business First of Columbus: .

The recession is taking its toll on Wilmington’s public radio station, WHQR. On Monday, they announced four key positions will be cut from its staff.

The general manager, news director, and development director will be out of job in about a month. The fourth position being cut is the programming director, a spot that’s been vacant for a few months.

via WHQR announces cuts will be made | WWAY NewsChannel 3 | Wilmington NC News.

The Weyhaupt Bros. pork processing plant has suddenly closed in Belleville. Last summer, owner Amy Bouvet announced that the parent company of the business at 1510 Lebanon Ave., Porco Inc., had reorganized. The business included a retail market that sold pork chops, tenderloins and sausages, along with milk, cheese, eggs and beverages directly to the consumer. The market and the plant are now locked up. …

via Several businesses close in the metro-east – Metro-east news – Belleville News-Democrat.

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – IT services company Unisys Corp (UIS.N) said Monday it will slash 1,300 jobs, or more than 4 percent of its work force, and suspend matching contributions to its U.S. 401(k) plan as it moves to cut $225 million in costs.

In addition, Unisys said it will forgo salary increases in most of its markets next year.

via Unisys slashes 1,300 jobs | Reuters .

Aleris International is laying off 32 employees at its Lewisport plant effective Jan. 5.

Employees of the aluminum mill were informed of the decision last Wednesday, said Melissa Olmstead, director of human resources at Aleris’ Beachwood, Ohio, headquarters.

“We’re continuing to respond to economic conditions,” she said.

via ARS Aleris will lay off 32; Job cuts effective Jan. 5.

CARSON CITY — Manufacturer Chromalloy Nevada laid off more employees because of a continued slowdown, a spokesman with the business’s parent company said last week.

The 75 workers laid off Wednesday and Thursday at the jet engine parts manufacturing and repair plant may be rehired in January if the airline business picks up, said Andrew Farrant of New York-based Sequa Corp.

via Chromalloy cuts another 75 jobs in Carson City | TahoeDailyTribune.com.

FREEPORT, Maine — Hit hard by the recession, Maine’s L.L. Bean is considering company restructuring, cost cutting and even layoffs.

An e-mail memo from President and Chief Operating Officer Chris McCormick obtained by the Times Record newspaper of Brunswick, Maine, indicates the catalog retailer missed its sales targets by “10 percent or more.” And the new year isn’t looking any better.

via L.L. Bean: Layoffs possible in new year | burlingtonfreepress.com | The Burlington Free Press.

BOLTON LANDING, N.Y. (AP) – The new owner of 1 of the Adirondacks’ biggest resorts is laying off up to 200 employees and shutting down its main operations for the winter.

Sagbolt LLC, a subsidiary of Delray Beach, Fla.-based Ocean Properties Ltd., said Monday that The Sagamore resort on Lake George will close from Jan 4. through March because of the weak economy.

via RNN-TV: New York’s Hudson Valley News Authority – National News and Politics — Adirondack resort plans layoffs, winter closure.

Pilgrim’s Pride has announced the loss of more than 500 jobs at its Suwannee County chicken processing plant. Ray Atkinson, director of corporate communications for Pilgrim’s, said Tuesday that 505 of the nearly 1,400 workers at the plant would be laid off in coming months.

via Suwannee Democrat – UPDATE: 500 TO LOSE JOBS AT PILGRIM’S.

Suwannee County’s job market is suffering a major blow with the announcement that the Pilgrim’s Pride chicken processing plant in Live Oak will lay off 505 of its 1,400 workers in February and March.

via Area firm cuts 505 jobs | GatorSports.com | The Gainesville Sun | Gainesville, FL.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The University of Tennessee Health Science Center plans to cut as many as 200 jobs next year, though university officials said the final number hasn’t been decided.

via Chattanooga Times Free Press | Job cuts planned for UT Health Science Center.




The South Korean government said yesterday it would cut 19,000 jobs at 69 public firms in the fourth stage of its public sector reform program.

The Ministry of Strategy and Finance said the job cuts would be carried out gradually through a natural phasing-out process and voluntary retirement over three to four years, given the current grim economic situation and bleak job market.

via S. Korea to axe 19,000 state workers.

A number of other construction projects intended to symbolize Russia’s economic might have been put on ice amid deepening financial woes. The powerful state gas monopoly Gazprom, too, has shelved plans to build a glossy $2 billion headquarter building in St. Petersburg.

There are many other, less visible signs of the global financial crisis’s deepening impact on Russia.

The crisis had so far largely spared the Russian population, mainly because share ownership and private pensions are still rare. But ordinary Russians have begun feeling the pinch in recent weeks, prompting talk of looming social unrest.

via Financial Crisis In Russia Holds Threat Of Social Unrest – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty © 2008 .


Mike: It looks like you had better bring your own cab if you want to be a cabbie in NYC:

Like Melissa Plaut before them, it’s being reported that “thousands of New York City residents laid off in the financial crisis have turned to driving taxis.” One problem: now there are too many cabbies and not enough cabs. Harlem Yellow Cab says they’re “sending people home every shift without a car. It’s a very bad situation.”

via Gothamist: Unemployed Masses Become Cabbies.


Mike: A little good news is nice to see on occasion:

WASHINGTON — The U.S. economy is sinking deeper into recession and companies are shedding hundreds of thousands of jobs, but the technology firms that Santa Fe, N.M., venture capitalist Trevor Loy invests in haven’t stopped growing.

In fact, they’re still adding to their payrolls, and they plan to continue doing so next year. The firms that Loy is funding are developing products such as state-of-the-art water purification systems and the next generation of construction site surveying cameras.

via McClatchy Washington Bureau | 12/22/2008 | Amid the economic wreckage, some sectors still hiring.

Fewer United Launch Alliance workers will lose their jobs in February, the company announced Monday.

The company’s projected layoff of 350 workers has been reduced to 172. Only 23 positions will be lost at Cape Canaveral, which has about 800 ULA workers. Nationwide, the company employs about 4,200.

“It’s certainly a lot more encouraging than it was,” ULA spokesman Mike Rein said.

via ULA cuts its layoff estimate | floridatoday.com | FLORIDA TODAY.


Mike: And some decent advice is always useful when going through stressful times:

How to Keep Your Job in Uncertain Times

Meredith Haberfeld

People are contacting me left and right these days with understandable concern about their job security. We all know corrosive worry and concern isn’t good for us and can even reduce our performance level, which can ultimately lead to job loss, the very thing we are all trying to avoid. The real focus is getting one’s head out of the worry pit and back in the game to put oneself in the best situation to keep their job and their careers on track.

via Meredith Haberfeld: How to Keep Your Job in Uncertain Times.


Mike: If offered a reduced salary or benefits to keep your job, this may be a good time to accept those reductions:

A growing number of employers, hoping to avoid or limit layoffs, are introducing four-day workweeks, unpaid vacations and voluntary or enforced furloughs, along with wage freezes, pension cuts and flexible work schedules. These employers are still cutting labor costs, but hanging onto the labor.

And in some cases, workers are even buying in. Witness the unusual suggestion made in early December by the chairman of the faculty senate at Brandeis University, who proposed that the school’s 300 professors and instructors give up 1 percent of their pay.

via More Companies Cutting Labor Costs, but Not the Labor – NYTimes.com.


Mike: Canceled contracts will not be such a surprise in 2009 as companies try to control spending:

Telecom contractor North Sky Communications laid off 27 people in Sherwood this month after Verizon scrapped unspecified construction plans.

“Verizon is delaying the start date for certain projects until the second half of 2009, thereby requiring that we lay-off many employees until that work resumes (presuming that it will),” North Sky President Rodney Kuenzi wrote in a letter to the state’s Bureau of Labor and Industries. “This news surprised North Sky management because just weeks ago we understood that our work with Verizon was on schedule to begin immediately.”

via Layoff watch: North Sky Communications – Silicon Forest – The Oregonian – OregonLive.com.

WILKES-BARRE – Luzerne County commissioners this morning voted to lay off 27 employees and approve a contract with a Philadelphia firm Reed Smith LLP to work on litigation over the 2009 budget allocation for the county judiciary.

via Breaking News: County lays off 27 workers 1:34 p.m. | News | citizensvoice.com | The Citizens’ Voice .

My Choice Medical Holdings, which offers practice management services for plastic surgeons, expects to cut nearly 50 jobs at its Stroudsburg facility by Dec. 31.

via Monroe medical company to cut 50 jobs — themorningcall.com.



Mike: If you do get laid  off, wouldn’t it be somewhat comforting to at least get a classy farewell from your employer, as Charlie Rose offered last week?


Microsoft news:

Mike: The Microsoft rumors continue to float and no response from the corporates in Redmond:

Search Biz: MSFT Layoff Rumors, Google Chrome Complicates Mozilla Relationship & More

Dec 22, 2008 at 2:34pm ET by Matt McGee

There are several gloom-and-doom reports in circulation today about Google, Microsoft, Web 2.0, and the entire Internet sector, for that matter — not exactly how you’d like to start out a holiday week, but so be it. Let’s get started, shall we?

via Search Engine Land: Must Read News About Search Marketing & Search Engines.

“Life after layoffs: How to move forward after a job loss,” an EDN business story posted last week.

Once considered a safe haven in the layoff storm, rumor has it Microsoft will slice its headcount in January. And as each December day passes, it’s becoming harder and harder to imagine how many smart, solid workers will be filing for unemployment in Q1 2009. The numbers since September are staggering and, like it or not, the unfair fact is that at some point in a career, most people will face a, or multiple, layoffs.

via Life after layoffs: Preparing an ICE kit – Now Hear This! – Blog on EDN – 1750000175 .

The software giant has thus far avoided the layoffs that some of its competitors have had to succumb to in the rough economic climate, but that’s about to change, according to the blog Mini-Microsoft. They’re hearing January 15 could be the day it goes down, and we have a seperate source hearing the same thing. On that day the bottom “10 percent-ers” (presumably, those performing the worst) could be gone — as many as 5,000 to 10,000 employees. Damn.

via Roundup: Rumors of layoffs at Microsoft, Tweeting a plane crash, music video fighting and more | The Industry Standard.

Mike: A different kind of rumor than the job loss variety:

Microsoft shares rose 97 cents to $27.42 Monday, partly on a rumor the software giant would shake loose $10 billion to pay a one-time cash dividend of $1 per share.

Although the source of the story — an unnamed person quoted in a French newspaper — seems flimsy, investors want a piece of Microsoft’s money so badly they’re willing to believe it.

via Rumor raises Microsoft.


Mike: It looks like the rumor mill is ripe with other possible tech layoffs:

Gov. Jim Douglas says he’s heard rumors about possible layoffs at IBM, but so far the company has not confirmed anything to him or to the state.

Last month, IBM laid off more than 100 temporary workers. And back in June, 180 IBM employees were laid off.

via WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-IBM Rumors Reach Montpelier.


Mike: The imports will be hurting for cash and slashing jobs in the new year. It won’t be as deadly as the Big 3, but it will be painful to many:

Dec. 23 (Bloomberg) — The worst U.S. auto market since the early 1990s may force Toyota Motor Corp. to do something that was once unthinkable: cut its North American payroll.

Asia’s largest automaker, which hasn’t shed workers in 24 years of building cars in the U.S., is exhausting options to trim costs after halting work on a Prius plant in Mississippi, idling a Texas truck factory for 15 weeks and planning to pare U.S. and Canadian output next month.

via Bloomberg.com: Worldwide.




Mike: Here are some afternoon announcements. At least these companies didn’t have their layoffs on Christmas day


* The Columbia Falls Aluminum Company notified its employees Tuesday morning that the plant will be shutting down its operations within the next 60 days.

The closure will eliminate the jobs of the roughly 200 employees at the plant, and comes on the heels of a spate of layoffs over the last several months by some of the Flathead’s biggest employers.

via Breaking: Columbia Falls Aluminum Co. Notifies Workers It Will Shut Down | Flathead Beacon.


* GRAND HAVEN – Shape Corp. says it will idle about 400 employees beginning Jan. 5.

The Grand Haven-based auto parts supplier says the layoffs will be the first in its 34-year history.

via Grand Haven auto parts company to lay off 400 | lansingstatejournal.com | Lansing State Journal.


*  Kenworth will see another layoff after the New Year and return from holiday shutdown.

Robin Easton, treasurer of Kenworth’s parent company Paccar, confirmed Tuesday there will be fewer than 100 people laid off, but declined providing an exact number. Affected employees have already been notified and will be let go about a week after workers return in mid-January, he added.

via Kenworth announces more layoffs | chillicothegazette.com | Chillicothe Gazette.


* COLUMBIA, Tenn. — A middle Tennessee company is laying off 125 employees just two days before Christmas.

The job cuts are happening at Johnson Controls Inc. in Columbia, Tenn.

The company makes seats and consoles for car manufacturers, including the GM plant in Spring Hill.

via 125 Laid Off At Columbia Plant – Nashville News Story – WSMV Nashville.

Video: Columbia Plant Lays Off 125 Workershttp://www.wsmv.com/video/18345534/index.html


Mike: I assume that circus clowns, prop comedians, mimes, plate spinners, Three Stooges impersonators and jugglers will also want to get a piece of the bail out pie

As the auto industry continues to crash and burn, the Big Three aren’t the only ones in need of a bailout — it appears musicians could use one as well.

In automaker-dependent Detroit, artists have come out to shine a grim light on their ailing music scene, with many pointing out the devastating effect the failing auto sector has had on live music, record stores and the bands.

With thousands of job losses, who do you think is coming out to see shows?” former Verve Pipe front-man Brian Vander Ark told the Windsor Star [via The Daily Swarm]. “I watched the Senate hearings; these executives all want a golden parachute. It’s difficult to get people to buy tickets now, and that has everything to do with the auto industry.”

via Exclaim News: Detroit Musicians Call For Bailout Similar To Auto Industry .


Mike: The 10% UE rate in parts of Ohio will move it’s way in all directions as the new year develops. And the rate is likely greater than 10% if you include forced part-time workers and those who have stopped looking for work:

* Unemployment rates for November jumped above 10 percent in three northwest Ohio counties, according to figures released Tuesday by the state Department of Job and Family Services.

As the statewide rate stayed unchanged last month at 7.3 percent, the jobless rate climbed in Huron County to 10.6 percent from 9.6 percent the month before; in Ottawa County to 10.3 percent from 8.3 percent; and in Van Wert County to 10.9 percent from 9.9 percent. The Van Wert figure is the highest among the state’s 88 counties.

via toledoblade.com — Jobless rate jumps above 10% in northwest Ohio.


Mike: A few states have already borrowed from the fed to fund their UE benefits and that trend is likely to continue:

[vodpod id=ExternalVideo.764715&w=425&h=350&fv=link%3Dhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww%252Ecbsnews%252Ecom%252Fvideo%252Fwatch%252F%253Fid%253D4676480n%26partner%3Dnews%26vert%3DNews%26autoPlayVid%3Dfalse%26releaseURL%3Dhttp%3A%2F%2Frelease.theplatform.com%2Fcontent.select%3Fpid%3DGnnSMSTEd13tp6o7Ud6Kfd8hzOBbTenI%26name%3DcbsPlayer%26allowScriptAccess%3Dalways%26wmode%3D%22transparent%22%26embedded%3Dy%26scale%3Dnoscale%26rv%3Dn%26salign%3Dtl]

more about “States’ Unemployment Funds Low Video …“, posted with vodpod


* Guaranty Financial Group Inc. plans to lay off 10 percent of its workers by the middle of next month, company officials confirmed Tuesday.

The Austin-based company, which is the parent of Guaranty Bank, notified affected workers about the job cuts last week, spokesman Rusty LaForge said.

Guaranty, which employed about 2,900 workers before the cuts, is laying off about 250 workers in non-customer-contact positions such as accounting and information technology, he said. It’s unclear exactly how many of the layoffs are in Austin, LaForge said.

via Guaranty to eliminate 10% of workforce – Austin Business Journal: .


* In a Form 8-K, Pharmacopeia (Nasdaq: PCOP) announced that on December 19, 2008, it reduced its workforce by approximately 28% through termination of positions. The Company notified the 22 affected employees of their termination dates, all of which will be as of January 2, 2009. Substantially all of the severance cost is expected to result in future cash expenditures.

via StreetInsider.com – Pharmacopeia (PCOP) Reduces Workforce by 28%.


Mike: The natives are getting restless as CA continues on its austerity ways:

* In further fallout from California’s economic recession, Orange County officials disclosed plans today to lay off nearly 60 probation department employees and to eliminate 92 beds at a juvenile correctional camp.

Word of the cutbacks came the same day that 1,000 angry workers stormed the Orange County Hall of Administration to protest previously announced plans to lay off 210 social service employees.

via O.C. plans 60 more layoffs amid protests – Los Angeles Times.


* At the restive Dec. 9 Santa Cruz City Council meeting, a long list of parking citation increases was passed without so much as a peep. The packed audience spilling out into the City Hall courtyard was more concerned with across-the-board cuts to city services and employee layoffs than a $10 increase to all parking citations—and rightly so. But just so our readers are not surprised when a $30 expired meter fine appears on their windshields after parking in front of one of the city’s soon-to-be-closed community centers, we got the lowdown on the jackups. 

via- Price of Santa Cruz Parking Ticket Jumps


Just a few days before Christmas, Automotive Components Holdings LLC has announced it will lay off as many as 830 Visteon Corp. workers at its ACH plant in Saline beginning in January.

Total overall employment at the plant won’t change, however, as the company plans to replace those employees with Ford Motor Co. workers who are either laid off or who previously transferred to a different plant. The laid-off workers are currently in the Ford’s jobs bank and are from around southeast Michigan.t.

via Up to 830 ACH workers to be replaced by Ford workers at Saline plant – Ann Arbor, Michigan Business News – with The Ann Arbor News – MLive.com.


We just got a call that Entertainment Marketing Associate Robert Gallardo sent out his ‘good-bye’ letter to his co-workers at the Weekly.

Apparently there are EVEN more layoffs to be announced tomorrow…Christmas Eve.

via BREAKING: More Layoffs at LA Weekly – mediabistro.com: FishbowlLA.


Mike: As the news cycle ends for most employment announcement, I’ll leave you with a little humor. Till tomorrow……


Ben Sargent - Dec. 22

Ben Sargent - Dec. 22


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