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Mike:  Jobless Claims numbers were released today at 8:30 Eastern. The estimate was for another 620,000 to sign up for unemployment. As you can see from the below graph, the jobless claims numbers are moving in an increasingly harmful direction:
* Feb. 19 (Bloomberg) — The number of Americans collecting unemployment benefits jumped to 4.99 million two weeks ago, breaking a record for a fourth straight time, signaling the job market is still deteriorating.

Total benefit rolls surged by 170,000 in the week ended Feb. 7, the Labor Department reported today in Washington. First-time applications for unemployment benefits were unchanged at 627,000 last week, higher than economists projected.

via Worldwide. Economic Calendar Economic Calendar


Mike: Instead of me doing a rant, I’ll let that chore go to Rick Sanrelli, who has an angle that hits home for many: 







Microsoft/Google/IBM and other Rumors & News


yahoo* Yahoo, Microsoft, and AOL each carved out a little more U.S. search market share in January, but Google still had the biggest piece of the pie, according to a report Wednesday by ComScore.

Yahoo Web sites accounted for 21 percent of the market (up half a percent) compared to the month before, while Microsoft grabbed an 8.5 percent slice (up 0.2 percent), and AOL nabbed 3.9 percent of the market (a 0.1 percent increase).

Google, while still holding the largest slice of the market by far, accounted for 63 percent of the search industry in January, down half a percent.

via Yahoo, Microsoft, AOL search up; Google down | Digital Media – CNET News.


General Economic News


The following job related reports re due today with jobless claims being the most important: Economic Calendar.


Jobless Claims
8:30 AM ET
* NEW YORK ( — The number of Americans filing for first-time unemployment benefits was unchanged last week, remaining near a 26-year high, according to a government report released Thursday.

The number of initial jobless claims was 627,000 in the week ended Feb. 14, according to the Labor Department. That was unchanged from the revised level of the previous week.

Economists polled by were expecting the number to come in at 620,000 for the most recent week.

The number of workers receiving unemployment checks for one week or more rose to a record 4,987,000 in the week ended Feb. 7, the most recent data available.

via Jobless claims hold at a high level in recent week – Feb. 19, 2009 .

Mike: While most of the other Leading Indicator reports offer tales of good times ahead, this one below is more realistic of how this improved number should be interpreted, but in fairness, I add the happier scenario below the realistic article:
Despite what the indicators say, no one believes the financial system is actually improving in any meaningful way. Most of the improvement in the LEI in the past two months has been due to the massive expansion of the money supply engineered by the Federal Reserve. It’s been rising at an 18% annual rate since Lehman collapsed.

Normally, pumping hundreds of billions of dollars into the economy would have a big impact where people actually produce and consume goods and services. But so far, the surge in the money supply hasn’t had any impact on growth. The Fed is flooding us with money, but that cash is ending up in bank accounts and in mattresses. It is not being put to productive use.

via Leading indicators are a head fake – MarketWatch .


* Indications that the economy may start to improve later this year surfaced in a report Thursday showing a surprising leap in economic activity in January. It marked the second consecutive monthly increase of those economic indicators.

The Conference Board, a private group, attributed most of the 0.4 percent rise in its monthly index of economic indicators to a jump in the money supply, a result of the Federal Reserve increasing its lending and buying of securities.

via Washington Times – Glimmer of hope in the economy .


Factories in the Philadelphia region reported declining business in February for the 14th month in the past 15, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia reported Thursday. The Philly Fed index dropped to negative 41.3 in February from negative 24.3 in January. It’s the lowest since October 1990. Readings below zero show that more manufacturing firms reported worsening conditions than reported improvements.

via Philly Fed index plunges to 18-year low in February – MarketWatch

Mike: And it would be terrible if these overpaid, corrupt, taxpayer swindling bank execs quit and let some honest types take over????

bny-kellyFeb. 19 (Bloomberg) — Bank of New York Mellon Corp. Chief Executive Officer Robert Kelly said he opposes a limit on bankers’ bonuses because it could make senior executives quit.

Pay caps would discriminate between domestic banks and other financial firms such as international banks or asset managers that wouldn’t be covered by the restraint, Kelly said in an interview in Dubai today.

via Worldwide


chairman-r-allen-stanford* Feb. 19 (Bloomberg) — Stanford International Bank Ltd., accused by U.S. regulators of defrauding investors, relied on more than high interest payments to sell $8 billion of what it called certificates of deposit.

The Antigua bank, founded by Stanford Group Co. Chairman R. Allen Stanford, attracted clients with assurances that its CDs were as safe as U.S. government-insured accounts, if not safer, investors said.

“Security was the key aspect,” said Pedro, a 62-year-old software engineer in Mexico City who invested $150,000 in CDs issued by Stanford International.

“They told me that they had insurance. The broker told me not to worry and that the bank was safe,” said Pedro, who asked that his last name not be used because he didn’t want to anger bank officials.

via Worldwide.


gm22* Hummer – Gone!!!

General Motors will make a financial decision about Hummer soon. Either way, it seems it won’t be a GM brand anymore. It will be sold, or it will be phased out.

Hummer had the worst sales fall-off of any brand in America last year, dropping by half to 27,485 vehicles.

For now, GM isn’t planning to do anything with Saturn beyond the life-cycles of its current models. If no one steps forward wanting to take Saturn over when the models are done in 2011, the brand is done to

via Brands: What Stays, What Goes- Yahoo! Autos Article Page.


Ben Sargent - Feb 19

Ben Sargent - Feb 19



Municipal News


calif3SACRAMENTO (AP) — The California Assembly has joined the state Senate in approving a long-awaited budget, sending the package to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger after an epic battle that involved several all-night sessions and political concessions.

The budget flew through the Assembly less than an hour after it won approval by a single vote in the Senate after late-night horse trading to win over a final Republican.

The budget included a combination of spending cuts, tax increases and borrowing, intended to close a projected $42 billion budget deficit and to stop a fast-arriving fiscal disaster for the state.

via The Associated Press: California legislators approve new budget.




viginia* The Virginia Department of Transportation plans to cut up to 1,450 salaried and hourly workers by summer 2010, according to a VDOT document obtained by The Roanoke Times.


washington-state* Statewide, about 170 of the Wildlife Department’s roughly 1,550 full-time positions are expected to be eliminated, according to a Tuesday e-mail to all personnel from interim director Phil Anderson and deputy director Joe Stohr.

via Layoffs projected at Fish and Wildlife – Outdoors – The Olympian – Olympia, Washington.


* SHREWSBURY – Superintendent Anthony Bent told the School Committee that 32 school employees have been notified they will lose their jobs at the end of the school year.

via Schools cut 40 full-time jobs – Shrewsbury, MA – Shrewsbury Chronicle.


texas11* GALVESTON — Galveston public school district trustees on Wednesday cut 55 administrator and support personnel positions, including two of the district’s top-paid employees.

via The Galveston County Daily News.


az* The Arizona Department of Revenue has announced they will have to layoff workers in both the Phoenix and Tucson offices.

Although the exact numbers of layoffs are unclear, the decison to trim the payroll was made official when the email detailing the cuts was sent Thursday.

via Tucson workers included in Dept. of Revenue layoffs.


US and some Canada News


avon* Feb. 19 (Bloomberg) — Avon Products Inc., the world’s largest door-to-door cosmetics seller, said 2,500 to 3,000 positions will be eliminated as part of a new restructuring program designed to create annual savings of about $200 million by 2013.


rockwood-holdings* Rockwood Holdings Inc (ROC.N) posted a better-than-expected quarterly profit and said cost cutting measures implemented in 2008 would result in the reduction of about 9 percent of its global workforce.

The company, which expects to cut 893 jobs, said it would continue to implement previously announced cost reduction programs.

via UPDATE 2-Rockwood Q4 profit beats Street; to cut 9 pct jobs | Reuters .


suit* * NEW YORK, Feb 18 (Reuters) – S & K Famous Brands Inc, which operates the S & K Menswear retail chain, gained bankruptcy court approval on Wednesday to begin closing 30 of its remaining 136 value-priced men’s clothing stores.

via S&K Menswear gets court OK to close 30 stores | Markets | Bonds News | Reuters .


* HASTINGS — The Armour-Eckrich Meats plant in Hastings, which employs about 370 people, will close in July as part of a restructuring plan by Smithfield Foods.

via The Independent > Archives > News > Local > Hastings pork processing plant to close in July with loss of 370 jobs.



hp* Hewlett-Packard workers fired up their PCs this morning to find a long memo from Mark Hurd explaining why he was imposing wide-ranging pay cuts in an effort to prevent further job losses at the computer vendor.



comdata* Comdata Corp. has laid off 43 employees at its Brentwood headquarters, according to company spokeswoman Trisha Torrado.

via Comdata lays off 43 in Brentwood – Nashville Business Journal: .


walt-disney-co* BURBANK, Calif. (AP) — Walt Disney Co. on Wednesday said it will lay off an unspecified number of workers as it restructures its U.S. theme parks in the wake of declines in attendance and revenue.

Jay Rasulo, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, said in a statement the changes “reflect today’s economic realities.” The latest job cuts follow Disney’s offer last month of voluntary buyout packages to about 600 executives in the parks division.

via The Associated Press: Walt Disney restructures theme parks, cuts jobs.


owens-corning* Owens Corning expects the weakness in construction to persist in 2009 and said it plans to cut capacity, reduce jobs and delay projects such as its previously announced expansion in Russia.

via UPDATE 3-Owens Corning Q4 trails Street, shares down | Deals | Regulatory News | Reuters .


Mercy and Mercy Southwest hospitals are laying off about 10 managers and anticipate cutting about 50 other jobs of varying types within months, officials announced Wednesday.

via Mercy announces job cuts – Today’s Paper > Local News | – Kern County news, events, shopping & search .


goodyear2* DANVILLE — Goodyear is proposing to cut about 400 union jobs at its Danville plant among 5,000 to be eliminated companywide this year.

via Goodyear proposing to cut 400 jobs in Danville | Culpeper Star-Exponent.


* Deep cuts have hit G4’s flagship show X-Play, sources tell us, and the five-day-a-week program has been cut back to three times a week.

We’ve heard that us much as half of the staff of the X-Play show have been laid off. We’ve emailed and spoken with G4 officials, but they were not yet able to answer our questions.

via Disturbance In The Workforce: Cuts Hit X-Play, Show Drops to Thrice Weekly [Update].


* The Denver Post shook up its editorial team Wednesday, forcing out two managing editors who oversee the paper’s print edition and its website as well as four other editors.

via Denver Post cuts senior editors – Denver Business Journal: .


* Akron General Health System laid off 20 managers on Tuesday and announced plans to reduce salaries for all other executives as part of ongoing efforts to reach a healthier bottom line.

via – Akron General lays off 20 managers, cuts salaries of others .


An agency that helps at-risk families in Tucson and across Arizona laid off 63 employees Tuesday, a loss that cuts deeply into a program that helps protect newborn babies.

via Agency aiding kids slashes staff | ®.


* A Butte biofuel business is losing six top-paying jobs.     

Biosource Fuels on Dewey Street was the scene of a visit by Governor Brian Schweitzer just two weeks ago. The company is asking for the governor’s help to build a fifth biofuel plant, but it’s just not happening yet.

via Montana’s News Station – Fair. Accurate. To the Point. -Butte biofuel company cuts jobs.


* The Standard-Thomson factory, a fixture on Grove Street for more than 60 years, is scheduled to close its doors by the end of next month.

The closing will result in job losses for most of the 86 employees.

via Standard-Thomson factory to close at end of March – Waltham, MA – The Daily News Tribune.


albertsonsThe slowing economy is spawning store closures and layoffs in Southern California’s typically solid grocery industry.

On Friday, Albertsons will shut the first four of nine stores closing between now and April 9. About a dozen workers are losing their jobs, and the chain is working to reassign hundreds more to other stores.

Ralphs is demoting more than 150 meat cutters to clerks, slashing their pay by more than a third to $13.47 an hour.

Vons has fired 97 workers this year, including 21 last week, and is reclassifying almost 200 full-time workers to part time, a move that could slice their wages as much as 40%.

via Albertsons to close 9 supermarkets – Los Angeles Times.


* Bruno’s Supermarkets LLC, which filed for bankruptcy earlier this month, said on Wednesday it would close about 15 percent of its stores and reduce about 30 corporate positions as part of its restructuring.

via UPDATE 1-Bruno’s to close 10 stores, reduce 30 positions | Industries | Consumer Goods & Retail | Reuters .


us-steel2* GRANITE CITY — Most of the remaining steel workers who have been keeping the coke furnace burning at U.S. Steel Corp.-Granite City Works will soon find themselves out of work.

U.S. Steel Corp. spokesman John Armstrong said Wednesday that within the next three weeks, 390 union and nonunion workers will be temporarily cut from their jobs.

via U.S. Steel to lay off 390 at Granite City plant – Metro-east news – Belleville News-Democrat.


* QUESTA, N.M. — In Northern New Mexico, hundreds learned Wednesday they are now jobless.

Chevron Mining announced it is laying off 230 people. The layoffs come on the heels of another 75 contractors who were laid off last week.

via Mine Lays Off 230 Workers – Albuquerque News Story – KOAT Albuquerque.


* CHICAGO The Daytona Beach (Fla.) News-Journal reported Wednesday that it has laid off nine employees in the news department while it continues negotiations with a possible buyer.

via Daytona Beach News-Journal’ Lays off 9 More in Newsroom .


* OTR Wheel Engineering Inc. has laid off 13 employees in Rome and four in other states over the last three to four months, Robert Owens, chief financial officer, said Wednesday.

via Rome News – Tribune.


goodrich* TROY — Goodrich Corp. confirmed Wednesday, Feb. 18, it is temporarily laying off 50 hourly maintenance and production workers at its aircraft wheels and brakes plant, effective March 2.

via Goodrich lays off 50 hourly workers.


gm23* JANESVILLE, Wis. — General Motors Corp. says it will lay off about 113 workers from its Janesville plant starting in April.

via GM to lay off 113 more from Janesville plant – .


modeling* MIAMI BEACH, Fla. (AP) A South Beach modeling agency that was once the subject of an MTV reality show has closed its doors, citing the poor economy.

Irene Marie Models laid off its last six employees Friday and will allow models to pick up photos and other materials this week.

via Florida Wire – .


western-forgeUp to 75 Western Forge employees could be looking for new jobs.

The long-time Colorado Springs manufacturing company is laying off 10 to 20 percent of its production workforce.

via Western Forge Announces Layoffs / Colorado Springs,  from KKTV 11 News .


* White-collar jobs continue to disappear in Richmond. PrecisionIR, an investor relations technology company based in Chesterfield, let go about 40 workers yesterday, including 16 in Richmond.

via Second round of layoffs at PrecisionIR | Richmond BizSense.


* Locally-based food distributor Performance Food Group is downsizing its purchasing division. About 98 people will lose their jobs, according to paperwork filed with the Commonwealth of Virginia.

via Food distributor laying off almost 100 | Richmond BizSense.


* Chicago – Touch and Go Records, the veteran, Chicago-based independent music label and distributor, has announced plans to lay off an undisclosed number of its 25 staffers and end manufacturing and distribution services it provided to some 20 label partners, the Chicago Tribune reported.

via Indie Label Touch and Go Cuts Staff, Halts Distribution Services | Digital Media Wire.


thompson-hine* The old saw that law firms prosper in good times and bad isn’t always true today.

The Thompson Hine law firm, headquartered in Cleveland, laid off 46 staff on Wednesday — 12 lawyers, five paralegals and 29 support staff, including legal secretaries.

via Cleveland law firms hit with layoffs – Business –


corning2* Reacting to the downturn in the automotive industry, Corning Inc. plans to cut 61 hourly employees at its manufacturing plant in Christiansburg by March 31, a company official said this morning.

via Corning to cut 61 hourly jobs, additional salaried positions –


blackwater* MOYOCK, N.C. (AP) — Blackwater Worldwide’s reorganization under the new brand name Xe (zee) includes layoffs designed to make the company leaner.

Xe spokeswoman Anne Tyrrell said Thursday the reorganization “has unfortunately required some staff reductions.”

via The Associated Press: Blackwater laying off staff as it adopts new name.


borders-group* Borders Group Inc. laid off another 136 people Thursday as the financially ailing bookseller continues to downsize and cut costs.

via Borders lays off another 136 people, many at its Ann Arbor headquarters – Ann Arbor Business –


goodyear3* Goodyear Manufacturing Communication Manager Amy Brei says 48 hourly employees will be laid off at the Asheboro plant as part of the national layoffs.

via 48 Employees From Asheboro Plant Included In National Layoffs | | Triad, NC | Local and State News Article.


* Saw maker M. K. Morse Co. said Thursday that it has laid off 42 employees because of the slowing economy.

via Saw maker M.K. Morse lays off 42 employees – Canton, OH –


The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) carried out its second resource action in three months yesterday. Laura Simanton, GIA’s spokesperson, told Rapaport News that GIA management had hoped its 11 percent workforce reduction in December 2008 would prove deep enough to avoid additional layoffs in the U.S.

via News – GIA Reduces U.S. Workforce 9% .


TitanX Engine Cooling has had to lay off around 100 employees since July because of the slowdown in the economy.

via Planning For The Future – | News, Sports, Jobs, Community Information – Jamestown | Post-Journal.


* Comcast Corp. laid off nearly 3,300 people in the third and fourth quarters of last year because of a reorganization of its cable-television operations, its chief financial officer, Michael Angelakis, said in its earnings conference call Wednesday.

via Comcast laid of 3,300 in the second half of last year – Sacramento Business Journal: .


* The Post Falls company has shut down its sawmill and planer indefinitely, affecting 17 employees, co-owner John Malloy said.

Malloy said the sawmill at Ceda-Pine Veneer in Samuels north of Sandpoint is also scheduled to close at the end of the week, affecting another 14 people.

via Bonner County Daily Bee – Your source for Sandpoint Idaho news and information .


* “It is an unfortunate fact in today’s economy that no business or law firm can rule out adjustments to their overall workforce levels. This includes Pillsbury, and, among other cost cutting measures, we will be implementing reductions to ensure that our resources are aligned with our business needs. We apologize for the unfortunate manner in which our deliberations about reductions have become public.”

via The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times : Pillsbury Layoffs Leaked By Partner on Train.


* Sears Canada Inc. has confirmed it laid off 300 employees today, half of them in its head office in Toronto, citing challenging business conditions.

via | Business | 300 laid off at Sears Canada .


best-buyBest Buy Co. Inc. said Thursday that 250 workers at its corporate headquarters in suburban Minneapolis would lose their current jobs as the electronics chain pares its work force, though most might get new positions with the company.

via Best Buy cuts 40 jobs at headquarters –


* Update: Auto parts supplier Federal-Mogul Corp. is closing its plant in Summerton, but county officials say the company’s auto brake manufacturing plant in Orangeburg is remaining open.

The plant employs about 400, according to the Orangeburg County Development Commission Web site’s list of county industries.

via | Federal-Mogul closing Summerton plant.


Update: YRC Worldwide still will cut 302 jobs at its Roadway Express and Yellow Transportation terminals here beginning March 1.

via YRCW YRC ready to cut 302 workers.


banjo-kazooieBanjo Kazooie creator Rare has cut “around 12 positions” in both its art and engineering departments, reports

via Artists, Engineers Lose Jobs At Rare | Game | Life from


* CIGNA Corp. laid off 33 employees in Bloomfield and Windsor Locks Thursday and has cut roughly 45 positions so far this year in response to a sagging economy and its effects on health plan enrollment.

via 33 More CIGNA Workers Laid Off ––


* LAKEVILLE — The tightening of consumer purse strings has impacted retail stores nationwide, including Hingham-based clothing marketer Talbots. The company laid off over 100 employees at its Lakeville distribution center earlier this month as part of major cost cutting measures designed to streamline the organization.



International News


seco-tools* Seco Tools (STO:SECOB) has made 260 employees in its Swedish operations redundant in an effort to reduce costs and adapt production capacity to the declining demand from the manufacturing industry.



thorntons* Thorntons, which has more than 4,000 employees, said that most staff have had accepted one of its flexible working options, including sabbaticals, one week’s unpaid leave and working hours in line with peaks and troughs in store trade. The cost-cutting measures were revealed as Thorntons, which has 642 company-owned and franchise stores, posted interim pre-tax profits down 39 per cent to £7.3m for the |28 weeks ended 10 January.

via Thorntons cuts staff costs as profits fall 40 per cent – Business News, Business – The Independent.


air-jamaica* PRESIDENT and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Air Jamaica Bruce Nobles says staff cuts at the ailing national carrier will begin next month and continue through for 90 days as the airline restructures its operations in preparation for divestment.

via Air J starts staff cuts next month –


* ADVERTISING and marketing group STW Group is believed to have retrenched about 20 staff from the Ogilvy group of companies in Sydney since the beginning of the year.

via STW retrenches 20 to cut costs | The Australian.


* Irish drinks group C&C (GCC.I) said it on Thursday it will cut 120 jobs, largely at its Bulmers cider factory, to reduce costs as sales fall in Ireland and the UK.

via REFILE-UPDATE 1-Ireland’s C&C cuts 120 jobs as cider sales fall | Industries | Consumer Goods & Retail | Reuters .


wl-goreWATERPROOF clothing manufacturer WL Gore is to cut up to 90 jobs in Livingston.

via Clothes maker cuts 90 jobs – Edinburgh Evening News .


* Administrators to JJB Sports loss-making LifeStyle division has made 438 staff redundant following the closure of 45 stores.

via Administrators cut 438 jobs at JJB Sports’ Lifestyle division – Telegraph.


toyota1* Toyota is to cut jobs and look at reducing both pay and the working week in Britain after talks with unions, the company announced today.

Pay levels for all 4,800 employees at its car factory at Burnaston near Derby and its engine plant at Deeside in Wales are to be frozen for this year while the temporary suspension of workers is being considered.

via Toyota to cut jobs and freeze pay in Britain – Times Online .


* German auto parts maker BBS International plans to cut up to 150 jobs in 2009 due to the downturn in the automobile market, its parent Belgian industrial holding group Punch International (PUNC.BR: Quote, Profile, Research) said on Thursday.

via Punch International’s BBS to cut up to 150 jobs | Reuters .


embraer* Brazil’s Embraer plane maker will cut its work force by about 20 percent because the global financial crisis has sharply reduced demand for its mid-sized passenger jets and executive jets, the company said Thursday.


Hiring News


Mike: Another busy day for layoff news and the news picked up as the day progressed. Hopefully Friday is a little less hectic for us all. I’ll leave you with a copule Daily Show greatest hits…………


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more about “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Offic…“, posted with vodpod

[vodpod id=ExternalVideo.785807&w=425&h=350&fv=autoPlay%3Dfalse]

more about “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Offic…“, posted with vodpod





Mike Luckovich - Feb 18

Mike Luckovich - Feb 18





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