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December 15th, 2010
05:00 PM ET

Do you expect to be better or worse off one year from now?

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FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

As millions of Americans continue to suffer from the troubled economy, there are signs that things may be looking up. It's very slow going, but there are some glimmers of hope.

For millions of Americans it's about a job - and unemployment remains stubbornly high, at just under 10 percent.

But economists have a more optimistic outlook for 2011: They're predicting three percent growth in GDP next year. It's not a runaway train, but not terrible either compared to where we've been. Experts have also reduced the odds of a double-dip recession to only about 15 percent.

However, the Federal Reserve struck a cautious note on economic recovery yesterday, saying it is "continuing, though at a rate that has been insufficient to bring down unemployment."

The extension of the Bush tax cuts - which passed the Senate a few hours ago - will likely become law soon, as will the extension of unemployment benefits. These measures should bring added relief to nearly everyone.

As for government spending, there's a new sheriff in charge of the Congress.

Republicans are vowing to tackle spending next year after the tax cut extension goes through. It remains to be seen how serious they are about spending cuts - or if they too will continue to add to our $13-plus trillion national debt.

For investors, the stock market is behaving okay, and businesses have a lot of cash on hand. If they ever become convinced things are finally on the mend, they can start hiring and investing.

So how do you think all these ripples in the economy will affect you and your family?

Here’s my question to you: Do you expect to be better or worse off one year from now?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Longevity • Recession • Unemployment • Unemployment / Economy
November 9th, 2010
04:55 PM ET

Calif. borrowing $40 million/day for unemployment benefits

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Unemployed people search for jobs in an employment office in the southern California town of El Centro. (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

California is borrowing $40 million a day from the federal government to pay unemployment benefits.

That means California is borrowing $40 million a day from you and me to pay unemployment benefits.

The Los Angeles Times reports the state will have a $362 million bill for interest alone due on a total debt of $10 billion next fall.

Thanks to the recession and poor management, California is an economic disaster zone, with one in every eight workers unemployed. More than 1.2 million Californians have lost their jobs since the start of the recession, and they're staying out of work for longer periods of time.

Plus in 2001, state lawmakers nearly doubled unemployment benefit levels without raising taxes. That was smart.

The result of all this is that if California keeps borrowing from the federal government, employers could face a steep hike in their unemployment taxes.

California is not alone here. 32 states in total have been borrowing from the federal government to pay unemployment benefits. The total is $41 billion. Some of these states are asking the feds for a deferral on repaying the loan until the economy improves.

The solution to this is fundamental: either increase contributions or decrease benefits - or both. Want to bet neither one happens?

Here’s my question to you: Should California borrow $40 million a day from the federal government to pay unemployment benefits?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

September 23rd, 2010
02:45 PM ET

Do you feel like recession is over?

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FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

It's unlikely there were all that many champagne corks popping across the country when we learned this week that the recession officially ended more than a year ago.

And maybe that's because it doesn't feel like the recession has ended…not at all.

A new Gallup Poll shows that 88 percent of those surveyed say now is a "bad time" to find a quality job.

That number is as high as it was one year ago... and higher than it was at this time in 2008, when the recession was under way. Only 55 percent felt this way in 2007, before the recession started.

The bottom line is Americans are waiting for the jobs to come back. It may be a very long wait, and, in fact, a lot of the lost jobs will never come back.

The national unemployment rate is 9.6 percent, and there are no signs it's going to improve significantly for a while. Since the recession started - more than seven million jobs have been lost. Almost two and a half million homes have been repossessed.

But the National Bureau of Economic Research says the recession, which began in December of 2007, ended in June of 2009. This makes the 18-month long recession the longest and deepest downturn since the Great Depression.

Add in weak economic data in the past few months and concerns about a possible double dip recession are growing.

According to CNNMoney.com, a group of top economists say there's a 25 percent risk of a double dip recession in the next year. That's up from a 15 percent chance just six months ago.

Here’s my question to you: Do you feel like the recession is over?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Recession • Unemployment • Unemployment / Economy
September 22nd, 2010
05:45 PM ET

Only 55 jobs created with $111 million in stimulus money?

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An aerial photo of downtown Los Angeles. (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Here's yet another glaring example of government inefficiency:

Two Los Angeles departments that received $111 million in federal stimulus money have only created 55 jobs so far. 55.

Reports by the city controller show that the Departments of Public Works and Transportation moved too slowly in spending the stimulus money - partly due to all the red tape. These agencies say they plan to create or retain 264 jobs once they spend all of the money.

The Department of Public Works, which got $71 million in stimulus money, has plans for projects like resurfacing streets and bridges and rebuilding sidewalks and storm drains.

That all sounds good - but these reports show it took eight months to put together bids, review them and then award the contracts.

As for the Department of Transportation, it's received almost $41 million to buy new buses, upgrade railroad crossings and put in new traffic signals. But the controller's report shows it took nearly a year to get approval to buy some of these buses.

Almost a year. Meanwhile, unemployment in Los Angeles is above 12 percent.

According to The Los Angeles Times, city officials wouldn't comment on the audit - but pointed to newer figures they have showing stimulus dollars at work.

Just imagine what the private sector could do with $111 million. For a $50,000 salary, you could directly hire more than 2,000 people. Not 55.

Here’s my question to you: Should two Los Angeles departments have been able to create more than 55 jobs with $111 million in stimulus money?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

August 25th, 2010
05:00 PM ET

Striking similarities between Great Depression & today?

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In this photo from the 1930s, a group of boys on a residential street run after their homemade go-kart.  (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

While the White House insists this is a "recovery summer," others say it looks a lot more like the Great Depression.

CNBC reports that economist David Rosenberg says like today, the Great Depression also had its high points - including big stock market gains and a series of positive GDP reports. Yet in both cases, these signs of recovery were unsustainable and gave people a false sense of stability.

According to Rosenberg, the U.S. economy is in "a depression, and not just some garden-variety recession." He compares how both during the 1930s and today people have a "euphoric response" to any glimmer of good economic news.

He says in the 1929-1933 depression, there were six quarterly bounces in GDP. So far, we've had four this time around.

Several top analysts have slashed their GDP projections for 2010... down to the 1.5 and two percent range.

The president of the Chicago federal reserve says that the risk of a double dip recession is growing, adding that the government programs meant to help homeowners aren't working.

Existing home sales plunged more than 27 percent last month - twice as much as analysts expected. And new home sales also fell by more than 12 percent to their slowest pace ever.

Economists warn that a double-dip in housing prices is also just around the corner - which could slow the recovery even more.

Add in the fact that there are no jobs, unemployment remains stuck near 10 percent, and the outlook is dark.

To top it off, Morgan Stanley says a global debt crisis is just beginning, and the bond market tussle we saw in Europe this past spring is just the beginning.

Here’s my question to you: What might it mean that there are striking similarities between the Great Depression and today's economy?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Economy • Unemployment • Unemployment / Economy • United States
July 20th, 2010
05:00 PM ET

Extend unemployment benefits without a way to pay for them?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

After weeks of haggling - the Senate is one step closer to extending unemployment benefits.

Pres. Obama speaks to the press at the White House Rose Garden after calling on Congress to extend long-term unemployment benefits to assist Americans still out of work.

Pres. Obama speaks to the press at the White House Rose Garden after calling on Congress to extend long-term unemployment benefits to assist Americans still out of work.

Two Republicans joined Democrats - in breaking the GOP filibuster - against extending the benefits through November. Republican leaders had earlier blocked a vote several times. They argue that any benefits extension should be offset by spending cuts. And they have a point.

This nation is quickly headed down the road to insolvency. We're more than $13 trillion in debt. And because the Democrats didn't bother to offer a way to pay for the benefits extension, another $34 billion will simply be added to the deficit.

President Obama tore into Republicans ahead of the vote... arguing that they were operating on a "misguided notion" that a new bill would discourage people from looking for work. Mr. Obama says the unemployed aren't looking for a handout, that they desperately want to work. The president described the GOP as hypocrites for voting for these benefits under Pres. Bush... but not now.

But Republicans insist it's all about fiscal responsibility. They insist they're not against unemployment benefits... they've said they'll support the bill, but only if it's paid for...

More than 2.5 million Americans have run out of unemployment benefits since the deadline passed in June.

The national unemployment rate is hovering just below 10 percent; and many economists expect it to stay high well into next year.

Here’s my question to you: Should unemployment benefits be extended without a way to pay for them?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

June 22nd, 2010
06:00 PM ET

Some companies only interested in applicants who already have jobs

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

As if life isn't difficult enough for millions of unemployed Americans, check this out: Companies are increasingly interested in hiring only applicants who already have a job.

CNNMoney.com reports that some job postings have restrictions like "unemployed candidates will not be considered" or "must be currently employed."

In some cases - the companies have removed these restrictions from their job postings after media outlets, like CNN Money, pressed them on it.

Other employers may not spell out in a job listing that they won't consider someone who is unemployed; but it's pretty much a given that they rule these candidates out immediately.

It's rather shocking that with the unemployment rate at almost 10 percent - that some companies are outright shutting the door on so many Americans.

One New Jersey human resources consultant says that when she suggests candidates for openings, often the first thing recruiters ask her is if the person currently has a job. If the answer is no, the candidate usually won't get an interview.

She says employers sometimes think the unemployed have been laid off for "performance issues," but that's a myth in a time of 10 percent unemployment. Lots of people are losing their jobs through no fault of their own.

Others suggest employers are ruling out the unemployed because they're overwhelmed with applications; in other words, weeding out the unemployed is a short-cut for them.

Sadly, none of this is against the law.

Here’s my question to you: What if some companies not interested in hiring unemployed?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

June 11th, 2010
05:00 PM ET

What if high unemployment is here to stay?

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FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

What if this time is different? What if 10 percent unemployment is the new normal.

Fortune Magazine has a sobering piece that explores whether in today's economy there is no fix for high unemployment.

In addition to all the jobs that have disappeared overseas never to return, it's all about technology. We've already seen computers and robots wipe out lots of manufacturing jobs, as well as clerical and administrative jobs. And it could just be the tip of the iceberg.

Advanced technology might one day replace not only factory workers - but also professionals and jobs that require a college degree or specialized skills.

Skeptics suggest that while new technology might eliminate some jobs - it also creates new employment sectors. Fine… but here's the catch: innovation is likely to erase jobs in more labor-intensive professions... while creating new ones that rely more on technology and don't employ as many people.

Also, whereas in the past, new technological advances would wipe out jobs in one industry at a time - for example agriculture - this time around it's expected to hit hard everywhere.

If all this is true - it could mean the U.S. needs to fundamentally change the way our economy works. Higher unemployment would likely mean a drop in consumer spending, and that's the engine that drives our economy.

It could also mean people relying more on government social safety nets - while there are fewer tax dollars coming in and our deficits are exploding.

And - Fortune Magazine suggests that mainstream economists are "completely oblivious" to the fact that the jobs may never come back. Doesn't bode well for the rest of us.

Here’s my question to you: What if high unemployment is here to stay?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Unemployment
June 2nd, 2010
06:00 PM ET

How do you define 'job' in 2010?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The good news is: Jobs are finally starting to come back... the bad news: they're not the kind of jobs many Americans are used to.

CNNMoney.com reports that many new jobs out there are temporary or contract positions instead of traditional full-time jobs with benefits.

And employers can afford to do this... because with unemployment at nearly 10 percent... there are people lined up willing to take any kind of work they can find.

It's estimated that in the next 10 years more than 40 percent of jobs could be such temporary positions; and that within the next few decades, full-time employees might become the minority of workers in this country. That means most workers won't have benefits like health care, paid vacation and retirement plans - all things many of us have taken for granted for years and years.

Some temporary workers suggest that employers are taking advantage of the weak labor market... and make them feel like 2nd class citizens... we'll find out just how weak that labor market is with a big jobs report due out Friday.

But the fact of the matter is that major changes in demographics also make it easier for employers to rely on temporary workers or independent contractors. For example, lots of younger people are okay with the idea of not being tied to one employer.

Also, with baby boomers becoming eligible for Medicare... they don't need to depend on their employer for health care.

Finally, it's worth pointing out that President Obama's health care plan will require employers to provide health benefits for employees - but not for contractors.

That translates to huge savings for employers who hire fewer full-time workers.

Here’s my question to you: How do you define "job" in 2010?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Kevin in Florida writes:
J.O.B. = Just Over Broke. With unemployment rising and an administration doing nothing about it, I see most of us begging in welfare lines. It's time the working and middle class make yet another big American stand and send all of these people packing in Nov. before it's too late!

Michael in New Mexico writes:
What you described as the current situation is what I have been living with since 1976 when I first entered the workforce. I worked in kitchens for 30 years. I had no benefits. I had no regular schedule. I had no livable wage. I had jobs, too many to remember, that used me up and threw me out. Currently I am a security guard. Same deal as before.

Jayne writes:
A job is that place you used to go to at 8 o'clock in the morning and stay until 5, 5 days a week, 50 weeks a year. Now it's that place far, far away where the Chinese worker – possibly a child – works at your job for 18 hours a day, 7 days a week, for a small percentage of your former salary and without benefits. The wealthy CEO, by the way, still has his job and probably got a 6 figure bonus for outsourcing yours.

T.S. writes:
Is this not a good trend? Did anyone believe we would go from posting job losses to job gains without a period where we had to adjust? Give me a break. Will it go back to exactly how it was? Probably not, but as always we will adjust.

Kay in Camarillo, California writes:
Jack, Any work that pays a person's bills and keeps them out of bankruptcy!

P.S. – Those employers who claim that an "employee" is really an "independent contractor" should count on a visit from the IRS. Falsely classifying an employee as a contractor carries hefty penalties.

Mark in Houston writes:
Jack, When used as a transitive verb, it's exactly what Congress and its related cronies have done to this country.

Scott in Ft. Bragg, North Carolina writes:
Jack, The answer is simple. Ozzie and Harriet don't live here anymore. Neither does their culture.


Filed under: Recession • Unemployment • Unemployment / Economy
April 6th, 2010
06:00 PM ET

Why unemployment among blacks & Hispanics significantly higher than whites?

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Unemployed Americans line up to speak with prospective employers at the Los Angeles Career Fair on March 23, 2010. (PHOTO CREDIT: MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

"Shockingly" and "unacceptably" high... that's how a top Obama economic aide describes the unemployment rate for minorities in this country.

He's got a point. The jobless rate for whites in the United States in March was 8.8 percent. For blacks it was nearly double - 16.5 percent; and for Hispanics 12.6 percent. These unemployment rates increased for both minority groups from the previous month - while it stayed steady for whites.

Officials say minority unemployment is so high because of a drop in certain sectors of the economy - like construction and manufacturing.

The State of Black America report from the National Urban League is calling on the president to push for a so-called jobs surge for hard-hit minority communities.

The report expects to see continuing high unemployment in the short term. It says these high jobless rates are unacceptable when the government just spent tons and tons of money bailing out the banks and auto companies.

The National Urban League recommends spending an additional $150 billion for direct job creation in the hardest hit communities... with a goal of creating three million jobs.

They're also pushing for spending several billion more to hire as many as five million teens in inner-city areas as part of a summer jobs program.

Here’s my question to you: Why is unemployment among blacks and Hispanics significantly higher than among whites?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Unemployment
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