Mike: My apologies, but due to family circumstances Weekend Update will be postponed until later this evening or I may have to wait until Monday’s posting

Mike: I hope you all had a fine New Year’s holiday and I wish you all the best in 2009.

* The following few paragraphs are some thoughts on what may occur in 2009. I’m not a financial expert, so I leave it to the financial experts to make the calls, but I try and read and analyze the latest information and add it to the conversation. I have discovered over the past couple years that listening to most of the main stream media (MSM) is usually misleading and disappointing (with a few exceptions). I learned most of my MSM skepticism from the Great Financial Sites links listed on the right side of the page. These experts do not seem to have any agenda other than dissecting the MSM spin and presenting an informative financial analysis for their loyal readers. If nothing else, I learned to not trust the spin of MSM.  On that note, here are some end of year and new year thoughts:


* The employment news in the upcoming weeks is likely to be very disappointing for both job losses and job hunting, especially in any of the housing related fields, such as textiles, furniture, lumber, appliances, real estate, and new home construction. Other areas related to autos will continue to shed jobs, and even energy related jobs will suffer due to low prices. Tech jobs won’t be immune to job losses as people cut back on discretionary spending for items like mp3 players, PCs, mobile phones, and other chip intensive gadgets. Many will be saving more and spending less in these uncertain economic times.

* Let’s recap the employment numbers for 2008. The monthly unemployment rate has increased from January’s 4.9% to November’s 6.7%. The December number will be released on January 9. The number of people continuing to receive unemployment has risen from rose from 2.7 million a year ago to 4.5 million in December. While some of the increase in continuing unemployment benefits can be attributed to the 13 and 7 week extensions, which occurred in July and November, respectively, the increasing  numbers represent a poor job market and one that is likely to deteriorate through 2009


– The fine analysts at – RGE Monitor – offer the following graphs that show the ever worsening jobs picture. I recommend that you read Edward Harrison’s review of the jobless numbers at

* The actual unadjusted number of 718,468 was actually higher than last week’s actual unadjusted 716,576.

via RGE – Jobless claims end year nicely under 500,000.:


Initial Jobless Claims

Initial Jobless Claims

Continuing Jobless claims

Continuing Jobless claims


To amplify the deteriorating jobs picture, the Conference Board posits the following:


 * The Conference Board Employment Trends Index (ETI)™ declined further in November. The index fell to 102.9, down 1.6 percent from the October revised figure of 104.5, and down over 13 percent from a year ago.

“Thus far the U.S. economy has lost 1.9 million jobs and the declines in the ETI suggest job losses could very well surpass 3 million by mid 2009,” said Gad Levanon, Senior Economist at The Conference Board. “The continued deterioration in the labor market will exert significant downward pressure on wages,” noted Levanon.

via Employment Index – The Conference Board. *


Mike: The following from Jon Markman presents a realistic forecast for 2009. What I find refreshing is that he includes the discouraged job seekers in his unemployment forecast. The discouraged job seekers number was removed form the unemployment report during the Clinton administration and that change has since skewed the numbers to the positive:


* No. 2: The unemployment rate will approach 10%.

Even if an infrastructure spending law dashes through Congress, it will be months before the money is spent and jobs are created. In the meantime, companies will see their borrowing costs rise even faster than their revenue shrinks — a toxic cocktail that leads to layoffs.

By the end of the year, the U.S. unemployment rate will rise from its current 6.7% to about 8.5%, en route to 10%-plus in 2010. The broadest measure of unemployment, which includes part-timers and discouraged job seekers, which is now at 12.5%, will approach 17% by 2010. In the spring, a single month will record a loss of 1 million jobs.

via Financial forecast: 11 bets for ’09 – MSN Money.


* While there is bound to be bad news for employment in 2009, some expect the job picture to brighten in 2010, although slowly. Some say an Obama job stimulus package needs to be more than shovel ready jobs. There will be many 40-60 somethings that won’t be able to learn heavy equipment operation or even know what end of a shovel to use. Created jobs must also include professions such as health care, engineering, environmental remediation, renewable energy, teachers, credit and mortgage counseling, tech and medical R&D, and protective services such as police and firefighters


* Many laid off workers will need to be retrained . While in training these individuals could be paid a minimum wage. Possibly a four-hour training schedule followed by four-hours of community service would be acceptable. After all, with only about 37% of laid off workers being eligible for unemployment benefits and few jobs for the remaining 63% that can’t collect, there will be many who won’t be able to financially survive without some means of income. Paying a salary for training and community service is better than having thousands more homeless or having them turn to less than desirable outlets such as crime


Mike: This may be a very difficult year in the job market, so best of luck with keeping your job or finding another one.  That’s my long-winded rant for the year, so let’s get to those layoff and economic announcements:




Microsoft News/Rumors –   


* More on Microsoft layoffs

Written by Lars-Göran Nilsson   

Friday, 02 January 2009 07:29

A lot of reasons why it will happen

Many news outlets covered out story about Microsoft planning to lay off as much as 17 percent of its workforce and there seems to be a lot of concerns about the number, as many people are saying it’s too high.

Well, let’s us try to explain a bit more details that has come to our attention since we wrote the initial piece. Parts of Microsoft are still doing well, such as the volume licensing department and as we mentioned in the previous story, the Xbox 360 division, however, some other areas of the company isn’t doing as well.

via Fudzilla – More on Microsoft layoffs.


More speculation on Microsoft layoffs, contractor cuts *

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

I can report that I’ve heard from a handful of contractors whose contracts at Microsoft were abruptly cut short.

These people have all asked not to be named, for fear of jeopardizing their chances for future employment with Microsoft and the vendors that provide the company with contract workers.

One man provided an e-mail from earlier in December in which managers at the MSN Homepages Team were informed that all of their contract personnel were being terminated today. The decision is “due to budget cuts,” the e-mail reads.

My source said this single cut impacted about 180 contractors and vendors.

via Microsoft Pri0 | More speculation on Microsoft layoffs, contractor cuts | Seattle Times Newspaper Blog.


* What is not confirmed though is in which departments or regions those employees would come from. Although, there have been rumors that it could come from Microsoft’s office in the EMEA regions. Another rumor is that most of those employees would also come from MSN. Those who are well assured of not getting affected by the mass layoff would certainly be employees in Microsoft’s console sales, since the Xbox 360 although not as good as the Nintendo Wii, still manages to get a fair share of the console market.

via Microsoft to Layoff 17% of Staff?.


* In the end, Microsoft may try to cut expenses through something more nuanced than a huge layoff. Matt Rosoff, an analyst at the Kirkland-based Directions on Microsoft research firm, offered this via email: “I wouldn’t be surprised to see a reorganization in which certain groups are eliminated or split apart, with some projects canceled or scaled back as a result.”

via Reality check on Microsoft layoffs – TechFlash: Seattle’s Technology News Source.




General Economic News


Mike: Update: I commented on the misplaced actions SC governor who wanted to hold unemployment benefits hostage for his own demands for a department audit. I would think that an audit could be completed without hslting the unemployment benefits. I doubt that this governor would hold back road contracts assigned to his campaign contributors to demand an audit of the highway department. And yet these are the kinds of people that are elected to office by the same people who are now on the unemployment line

* COLUMBIA, S.C. — Just hours before the unemployment benefits fund was to run out in South Carolina, the state with the nation’s third-highest jobless rate, Gov. Mark Sanford relented Wednesday and agreed to apply for a $146 million federal loan to shore it up, after weeks of refusing to do so.

Mary Ann Chastain/Associated Press

Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina announcing Wednesday that he had applied for the $146 million federal loan that would ensure continued unemployment benefits in the state.

The governor’s position had drawn rebukes even from fellow Republicans in the Legislature, one of whom denounced Mr. Sanford as “heartless,” and from newspaper editorial pages. On Wednesday, The State, the daily newspaper here in Columbia, accused the governor of playing “chicken with the lives of the 77,000” who are unemployed in South Carolina.

via South Carolina Governor Relents on Jobless Funds – NYTimes.com.


Mike: This is not the way to start the new year:


Manufacturing index drops to its lowest level since 1980 as orders fall and layoffs continue– 

NEW YORK (AP) — Manufacturing activity fell more than expected in December, hitting the lowest reading in 28 years as new orders and employment continue to decline.

The Institute for Supply Management, a trade group of purchasing executives, said Friday its manufacturing index fell to 32.4 in December from 36.2 in November. Wall Street economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters had expected the reading to fall to 35.5.


Component readings of the index hit historic lows. New orders fell to their lowest level on records going back to 1948. Prices fell as the number of respondents saying they had paid more in December than in November sank to its lowest monthly reading since 1949.

via Manufacturing index drops to 28-year low: Financial News – Yahoo! Finance.


Municipal News


* Not everyone is celebrating the New Year.

Eleven city of Muskegon Heights police officers were officially laid off as of 6 a.m. today.

via Muskegon Heights police layoffs take effect – Muskegon News – The Latest News, Blogs, Photos & Videos – MLive.com 


* BOSTON – January 01, 2009 – The Boston Police Department could be forced to lay off up to 200 police officers because of the shrinking city budget.

The Boston Globe reports the layoffs would amount to 9 percent of the force, and would be the first police layoffs in 27 years.

via Boston Police Face Major Layoffs (WBUR).


* Transit Management of Washoe is contracted to supply the Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) with drivers.

The Transit Management of Washoe will be laying off six part-time and ten full-time drivers without severance packages on January 3, according to spokesman Mike Steele.

via Reno bus driver supplier announces job-cuts – KRNV-TV- msnbc.com.


* There wasn’t much celebration going on New Years Day in the police and fire departments in Warren.

The mood is kind of somber, no one really talking too much. It is sort of emotional, we lost a few, three on this turn,” said Fire Department Captain Dave Sponaugle.

The city laid off 11 firemen and 20 policemen starting January 1, in order to balance the budget.

via Warren Layoffs – 33 News – We Believe in This Valley .


* Contra Costa supervisors issued the pink slips last month to become effective December 31st. Starting New Year’s Day, the county has 65 fewer child welfare workers which is a sobering thought this New Year’s, especially to those who workers used to work every day to keep kids safe.

via Budget cuts lead to foster care workers laid-off – 1/01/09 – San Francisco News – abc7news.com.


* Twenty-six police officers currently patrol the 8 square miles and 11,000 residents of the township. That number will drop to 17 officers on Jan. 16. The commissioners voted to cut all part-time officers and two full-time officers.

via North Versailles Cuts Police Officers – News- msnbc.com.


* CLEVELAND — The Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s office laid off 18 deputies and three security monitors, Sheriff Gerald McFaul said in a news release.


US and some Canada News


* LINDEN, Ala. (AP) – Caraustar Industries is closing its plant in Linden, Ala., which will idle about 20 workers.

Human Resources Director Frank Snyder says the closing will occur before the end of the first quarter of the year. He blamed it on economic conditions.

via WTVM.com and WTVM News Leader 9, Columbus, GA | Caraustar plant closing in Linden, Ala..


* The landscape of NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series is about to change — radically.

According to reports on FoxSports.com and SceneDaily.com, Petty Enterprises is expected to lay off the majority of the 39 employees remaining at its shop in Mooresville, N.C., in anticipation of a merger with Gillett Evernham Motorsports. An announcement of the merger is expected Monday, the FoxSports.com story said, although spokespersons from both organizations declined comment on the report.

via SportingNews.com – Your expert source for NASCAR Auto Racing stats, scores, standings, blogs and fantasy news from NASCAR Auto Racing columnists.


* Workers at a Macon County glass factory will start off the new year in the unemployment line. Over 40 workers at Pittsburgh Plate Glass were handed pink slips this week.

via  –Over 40 workers at Pittsburgh Plate Glass were handed pink slips this week.


* La. – Nurses, corrections officers and student workers could lose their jobs as state government trims the $30 billion budget.

Public Safety and Corrections Secretary Jimmy LeBlanc said Wednesday he is dismissing 70 workers hired for a nursing unit at Elayn Hunt Correction Center in St. Gabriel. The workers include nurses and correction officers.

via 2theadvocate.com | News | State plans layoffs — Baton Rouge, LA.


* YOUR HEALTH | Beggs cites economic slowdown as fewer seek hospital services

By Kandra Wells

Six employees were laid off by McAlester Regional Health Center Tuesday in the latest cost-cutting measure to keep the hospital’s books in balance.

The six included two nurses, a secretary and three supervisory employees, said CEO Shaun Beggs, and followed the elimination of another 15 positions over the last month. Overall, about 30 positions have been eliminated over the past six months, representing a workforce reduction of more than 2 percent of the hospital’s staff.

via McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK – Cash-strapped hospital hands out pink slips.


* Junction City-based Country Coach notified workers in a letter that the RV factory will permanently shut down unless new financing is obtained before March. The letter from CEO Jay Howard, dated Dec. 30, was obtained Wednesday by The Register-Guard newspaper of Eugene.

Even if Country Coach obtains a loan, the company expects layoffs starting around March 1, Howard said.

via AP Wire – Oregon | kgw.com | News for Portland Oregon and SW Washington .


* IC Corporation’s parent company, Navistar, announced 300 layoffs at its Conway plant in January. The layoffs were a result of an industry-wide downturn in demand for buses caused by new emissions standards placed on the industry by the Environmental Protection Agency, a company spokesman said.

via TheCabin.net ·· 9: IC Corp. lays off 300 employees 01/01/09.


* Magna TEAM Systems, which produces front-end assemblies for the Toledo-made Jeep Wrangler, has notified the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services that it intends to lay off 140 employees as early as Monday.

via toledoblade.com — Jeep Wrangler supplier to lay off 140 by Jan. 18.


* A faltering economy and increasing competition have stacked the odds against the Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack for 2009, according to President and Chief Executive Officer Jim Simms.

This week, 27 jobs – most of them management positions – were eliminated there as track officials seek to better position the business for the coming months.

via Island Track to Cut 27 Jobs – News, Sports, Jobs – The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register.


* Harsco Corp. will spend $25 million to $35 million to cut its global work force, close facilities and cancel contracts in 2009.

via Harsco to cut jobs, shut facilities – PennLive.com.


* Jan. 1–Haas Automation Inc., the Oxnard machine tool builder, plans to cut 200 jobs in January.

The company plans to permanently end the work assignments of 200 temporary employees at its Oxnard plant starting Jan. 20, according to Haas’ letter announcing the cuts to the Ventura County Human Services Agency.

via Haas Automation to cut 200 jobs: Oxnard company’s clients include Ford, GM, other troubled firms.


* ST. JOHNSBURY — NSA Industries of St. Johnsbury has laid off 35 workers and officials say more cuts may be coming.

Chan Morgan, president of the sheet metal fabrication, welding and precision machining operation, says Wednesday’s layoffs were driven by a dramatic reduction in business.

via St. Johnsbury plant lays off 35 | burlingtonfreepress.com | The Burlington Free Press.


Heckethorn Manufacturing Co., a division of BHM Technologies, announced recently that it would be laying-off approximately 100 of its employees and adjusting its work schedule.

via Dyersburg State Gazette: Story: Heckethorn Manufacturing Co. announces layoffs.


Starting Monday, more than 2,000 salaried workers at Visteon Corp. will shift to a 4-day workweek and see their pay cut 20%.

via Visteon to slash hours, cut pay | Freep.com | Detroit Free Press.


* BROOKLINE – Comcast plans to close down its studios in Brookline this weekend as it ends broadcasting of the CN8 network in New England.

About 50 jobs will be cut with the closure of the Amory Street studio.

via Comcast to close Brookline studio, cut 50 jobs – Brookline, MA – Brookline TAB.


* Teleflex Electrical Systems will close its Lakewood Ranch, Fla., manufacturing plant this year, eliminating 100 jobs.

via Teleflex division closing Fla. plant – Philadelphia Business Journal: .


* NISKAYUNA — Longtime WRGB reporter Mary Beth Wenger has lost her job at the television station.

Station sources said Wenger, who began working at CBS6 in 1981 and anchored weekend newscasts for about 20 years, was told her contract would not be renewed on Wednesday.

Two other employees, a news producer and station web site worker, also were laid off.

via Wenger among three laid off at CBS6.


* State regulators have ordered Tampa Bay Academy in Riverview to stop accepting patients as it investigates abuse complaints, and the child and adolescent residential treatment facility has responded by laying off 150 people.

via Embattled treatment center lays off work force – Tampa Bay Business Journal: .


* ST. JOHNSBURY – NSA Industries of St. Johnsbury has laid off 35 workers and officials say more cuts may be coming.


International News


* MADRID (Reuters) – Tensions mounting between native job-seekers and immigrants competing for a declining pool of work in Spain will intensify in 2009 as generous benefits for those laid off reach the end of their fixed terms.

Unemployment at 12.8 percent in November, a 12-year high and by far the highest rate in the European Union, could reach 20 percent of the workforce in 2010 as a slump in construction spreads into the wider economy, economists say.

via Unemployment a social time bomb for Spain | Lifestyle | Reuters .


* Due to deteriorating market scenario in the US and Europe, India`s export-oriented leather industry employing 2.5 million people may face job cut of around 0.5 million workers in the next 3-4 months, reports Economic Times.

via Leather export units may cut 0.5 mn jobs in 3-4 mnths.


* LONDON (AP) — Manufacturing activity contracted for the seventh month running in December for the countries using the euro, falling at its sharpest rate for at least 11 years, a closely-watched survey found Friday. The figures reinforced expectations that the European Central Bank will cut interest rates again this month.


The monthly purchasing managers’ index was revised down to 33.9 in December from the initial estimate of 34.5, down from 35.6 the previous month.

A reading below 50 indicates contraction, and the bigger the difference from 50 the greater the contraction. December’s reading was the lowest in the survey’s 11-year history.

via Euro-zone manufacturing contracts at record pace: Financial News – Yahoo! Finance.


* MADRID, Jan 2 (Reuters) – The Spanish manufacturing sector shrank at a record pace for the fourth month running in December due to a lack of new business as the country entered recession, the Markit Purchasing Managers Index showed on Friday.

The indicator fell to 28.5 from a previous low of 29.4 in November and marked the lowest level in the near 11-year history of the survey.

Around 43 percent of Spanish manufacturers in the PMI survey said they cut jobs in December to compensate for falling production, marking the highest level of layoffs in the series history and taking the employment indicator to a low of 29.4.

via Business Feed Article | Business | guardian.co.uk .


* The jobs carnage sweeping through British industry continued when it was revealed that a leading food manufacturer is to make savings at three factories which could lead to 400 posts being axed.

Bakkavor said it would restructure plants at Kirton, Holbeach and Spalding in Lincolnshire amid “worsening economic conditions.”

via The Press Association: 400 jobs under threat at food firm.


Mike: Many companies have instituted furloughs and temporary layoffs and as can be seen below, there is no guarantee that those jobs will return:

* DAYTON — EFTEC North America is closing its bonding and adhesives plant at 3345 Stop Eight Road, a union shop chairman said Wednesday, Dec. 31.

John Stallard, shop chairman for United Auto Workers Local 888, said the facility has been closed since Dec. 19 for an annual break. Workers were supposed to return to their jobs Jan. 5, but a letter from the company said the Dayton operation is being closed, Stallard said.

via EFTEC to close Stop Eight operation.


* VAN BUREN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — Automotive supplier Visteon Corp. says it will shift more than 2,000 workers to a four-day week and cut pay by 20 percent as tight credit and collapsing sales cause huge industry losses.

via Visteon cutting worker hours, pay: Financial News – Yahoo! Finance.


* THE combination of loss of harvests due to drought and poor management has led Malaca, one of Cartama’s most significant citrus producing companies, to bankruptcy. Malaca is now just a vacant warehouse, full of disused machinery.

Only a miracle can save the company, which has been running since 1979. The company has seen its production gradually diminish until bosses have had no option but to lay off the 80 employees who worked at several of the Valle del Guadalhorce plants.

via Factory closure leaves 80 workers unemployed – The Euro Weekly News, Newspapers Online.


Hiring News


* Even as unemployment in Utah is rising with the deepening recession, one of the nation’s largest financial institutions remains in hiring mode.

Next Tuesday, U.S. Bank, the sixth largest commercial bank in the country, will hold a job fair in Lehi to hire 80 workers for 21 in-store branch locations it is acquiring from Zions Bank. The branch offices, all within Smith’s Food and Drug stores in Utah including three in American Fork, Orem and Saratoga Springs, are part of a deal struck by U.S. Bank in September to assume the leases of a total of 49 in-store Zions branches in Utah and Nevada.

via Daily Herald – U.S. Bank hiring 80 workers in Utah.


Shooting the new $30 million movie, “Up in the Air,” will bring more than George Clooney to St. Louis. It will generate 500 jobs, book 6,000 hotel room nights and create an economic impact of at least $50 million for the region.

via Movie to create 500 jobs, $50 million for St. Louis – St. Louis Business Journal: .


* It may seem strange during these lackluster economic times, but jobs working on the U.S. Census are going begging in Duluth.

Kenneth Falk, the manager of the Duluth Census office, says he’s having a hard time filling positions in the territory’s 44 counties. His crews have been recruiting hard, but Falk says they often see only two or three people come to testing sessions instead of the 15 or 20 expected.

via Associated Press |  INFORUM | Fargo, North Dakota – Moorhead, Minnesota .


* Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine expects about 2,000 additional jobs in the Newport News area after Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding landed a piece of the Navy’s $14 billion contract for eight nuclear submarines.

via Virginia anticipates 2,000 new sub-related jobs – Related Stories – AIA dailyLead.


* Raleigh – Gov. Mike Easley announced this week that Covation LLC., a high-end customer support center for business telecommunications services, plans to open a facility in Hickory. The company plans to invest $5.47 million and create 913 jobs during the next two years. The announcement was made possible in part by a $600,000 grant from the One North Carolina Fund.


Mike: A relatively quiet start for the new year in the layoff department. With the holidays behind us, the upcoming week should prove to be very active in the employment department. I’ll publish a short Weekend Update to highlight some late breaking news and some financial happenings. Till then I’ll leave you with a little humor and a tune………..


Saturday Night Live Short




Joe Jackson – Friday (live 1980)





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