Article 43


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Where The Fed Is Heading

By Anthony Randazzo
Reason Foundation
October 15, 2010

Fed Chairman Bernanke gave an important POLICY SPEECH this morning at a Boston Fed event, laying out what he is seeing in the economy today. The speech was intended to provide some confidence boost for the market by giving a peek at what he and the Fed are likely to do at their next meeting (in November), though his comments were cryptic betraying the reality that there isn’t full consensus inside the Federal Reserve as to what the government can do.

Real Time Economics BROKE DOWN four key takeaways from the speech:

1. Unemployment is way too high, and unlikely to fall much without some help from the government.

2. Inflation is too low and unlikely to return to the Feds target of a bit below 2% without some help from the Fed.

3. The first round of bond buying - aka Quantitative Easing - worked. There are risks to doing more, but they aren’t going to stop him from doing more.

4. The Fed is thinking about publicly pledging to keep short term rates near zero for a REALLY long time.

It is unlikely, but the Fed’s best move now would be to begin the process of exiting from its loose monetary policy, ending its subsidies for the market now, and letting the market shake loose once and for all the toxic waste that is part of our economic deluge. Unfortunately, the Fed view is largely to move the opposite direction, the debate is over how much and when.

But the Fed is going to do something, if only because Bernanke wants to help solve this problem:

Consumer spending in the quarters ahead will depend importantly on the pace of job creation but also on households’ ability to repair their financial positions. Some progress is being made on this front. Saving rates are up noticeably from pre-crisis levels, and household assets have risen, on net, over recent quarters, while debt and debt service payments have declined markedly relative to income.1 Together with expected further easing in credit terms and conditions offered by lenders, stronger balance sheets should eventually provide households the confidence and the wherewithal to increase their pace of spending. That said, progress has been and is likely to be uneven, as the process of balance sheet repair remains impeded to some extent by elevated unemployment, lower home values, and limited ability to refinance existing mortgages.

See the whole speech HERE.


Posted by Elvis on 10/17/10 •
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Saturday, October 16, 2010

Blighted Titles


Tampa Bay, Miami and Orlando are among the top five metro markets nationwide with the fastest-growing mortgage delinquency rates a harbinger of coming foreclosures.
- Robert Trigaux - Saint Petersburg Times

October 2, 2010

If you think the housing crisis is over you would be WRONG.  Do you think the banks are out of trouble? You would be wrong again.  BANK OF AMERICA BECAME THE THIRD LENDER TO HALT FORECLOSURES because of BAD PAPERWORK following GMAC and JP Morgan Chase.

Bank of America, the countrys largest mortgage lender by assets, said on Friday that it was reviewing documents in all foreclosure cases now in court to evaluate if there were errors.

It is the third major lender in the last two weeks to freeze foreclosures in the 23 states where the process is controlled by courts.

But Bank of America went further than the first two lenders, GMAC Mortgage and JPMorgan Chase, which have said they will amend paperwork only in cases they think were improperly done. So far, that has amounted to only a handful of cases.

Bank of America, in an e-mailed statement, said it would “amend” all affidavits in foreclosure cases that have not yet gone to judgment.

That could mean tens of thousands of foreclosure cases would be in limbo for months or, if the consumers in default hire lawyers, years.

No where is it as bad as it is in FLORIDA and it is actually THREATENING THAT STATE’S ECONOMY.

There’s no polite way to put this. A growing cancer is infecting the backlogged legal process of foreclosing on hundreds of thousands of homes in Florida.

It’s endangering the legal and economic STABILITY of this state. And it’s exposing an appalling lack of leadership, first for allowing such a breakdown in the legal system and, now, for failing to own up to this mess and get it fixed.

How bad is it? Laws governing who actually owns a foreclosed home are becoming so suspect a new buzzword is emerging: blighted titles. Even the tepid rebound of Florida’s economy may face crippling delays in resolving hundreds of thousands of foreclosures in the Sunshine State.

What’s wrong? The accuracy and truthfulness of an immense flood of legal documents and affidavits some lenders and their hired lawyers use to foreclose on homes have come under such critical attack that some major banks are suspending their court cases pending internal reviews.

If the title the lender holds is questionable that represents a new problem.

Here’s a big one: Title insurance companies may be scared away from offering “clear title” guarantees on foreclosed homes. That would throw into doubt who actually owns many thousands of houses - those going into foreclosure and those purchased out of foreclosure all across the state.

Who’s going to buy a home if they don’t have a guarantee that they will legally own it?

Old Republic National Title has already announced it will not issue policies on GMAC foreclosures.



Banks Suing Based on Counterfeit Court Summons in Foreclosure Lawsuits

Washington’s Blog
September 29, 2010

I received the following email from a source on the Hill who has a lot of knowledge about foreclosures.

Attached is a court order quashing a case because of a counterfeit court summons. Apparently whats happening is that private process servicer companies may not be serving people with summons, and are simply counterfeiting the documents so they can keep the fees without doing the work. That means that you could theoretically be foreclosed on without ever knowing there was even a foreclosure case against you.

This judge got wise to it.

Below are two more stories about the problem. The first is from the Florida Bar News, and the second is from prominent financial blogger Mike Konczal on the rampant violations of property rights.


Key quote: “If we had everyone defending their foreclosure, wed never get through this.”


Given that the IMF and others believe a large part of the “structural unemployment” in our country is related to the struggling housing market and underwater and barely-hanging on homeowners, what is to be done? One option is to allow for options like lien-stripping in bankruptcy courts, reseting mortgages by zip code, etc. Another option is for courts to accelerate foreclosures by ignoring due process, proper documentation and legal process in order to kick people out of their homes and preserve the value of senior tranches of RMBS while giving mortgage servicers a nice kickback.

What option do you think our country is taking?

We should all be very concerned about the foreclosure situation in Florida. If you are a homeowner or potential homeowner, you should find it offensive that people’s property rights are being violated in such a flagrant way. If you are an investor, either as bond vigilante or someone with a generic 401(k), you should be worried that servicers have gone rogue and the incentive structure to maximize value instead of fees associated with foreclosures has broken down.

And if you care about basic Western liberalism, the classical kind, with a Lockean understanding of freedom to own property along with freedoms of speech and religion - you should be pissed off. This is a clear-cut instance of the rich and powerful decimating other peoples property rights, rights that are supposed to protect the weak from the strong, in order to preserve their wealth and autonomy. Unless you think property rights are mere placeholders for whatever the financial sector demands are, this should be resisted. This should be viewed as a problem an order of magnitude larger than Kelo v. City of New London.

The short problem is that banks are foreclosing without showing clear ownership of the property. In addition, ғforeclosure mills are processing 100,000s of foreclosures a month without doing any of the actual due diligence or legal legwork required for the state to justify the taking of property and putting people on the street. Even worse, many are faking documentation and committing other fraud in the process. The government is allowing this to happen both by not having courts block it from going forward, but also through purchasing the services of these mills. As Barney Frank noted: “Why is Fannie Mae using lawyers that are accused of regularly engaging in fraud to kick people out of their homes?”

And the worst part is the lack of conversation about this. Thanks to Yves Smith at naked capitalism for following this story from the get-go; her blog has become the place for anyone interested in this topic (that link is a catch-up post). The rest of the media is starting to catch up to where she was weeks ago. Here’s the Washington Post with the story of an individual caught in one of these nets.

Also Dean Baker just wrote a good SUMMARY OF THE SITUATION for the Guardian:

As a number of news reports have shown in recent weeks, banks have been carrying through foreclosures at a breakneck pace and freely ignoring the legal niceties required under the law, such as demonstrating clear ownership to the property being foreclosed.

The problem is that when mortgages got sliced and diced into various mortgage-backed securities, it became difficult to follow who actually held the title to the home. Often the bank that was servicing the mortgage did not actually have the title and may not even know where the title is. As a result, if a homeowner stopped paying their mortgage, the servicer may not be able to prove they actually have a claim to the property.

If the servicer followed the law on carrying through foreclosures then it would have to go through a costly and time-consuming process of getting its paperwork in order and ensuring that it actually did have possession of the title before going to a judge and getting a judgment that would allow them to take possession of the property. Instead, banks got in the habit of skirting the proper procedures and filling in forms inaccurately and improperly in order to take possession of properties.

And the situation in Florida is worse than most assume. The specially-created courts see it as their purpose to clear out the foreclosures, as Yves Smith covers here (must read). The most obvious takeaway is that homeowners arent being given the chance to have their documents properly viewed, have the challenges and proper legal hurdles to putting someone on the street vetted by the courts, and instead are being bribed with an additional month of house time if they don’t ask too many questions.

And the biggest fear is that the fraud uncovered at GMAC is the tip of the iceberg for what is going on nationwide. Keep your eye on this situation.



From a Maine House, a National Foreclosure Freeze

by David Streitfeld
NY Times
October 15, 2010

DENMARK, Me.  The house that set off the national furor over faulty foreeclosures is blue-gray and weathered. The porch is piled with furniture and knickknacks awaiting the next yard sale. In the driveway is a busted pickup truck. No one who lives there is going anywhere anytime soon.

Nicolle Bradbury bought this house seven years ago for $75,000, a major step up from the trailer she had been living in with her family. But she lost her job and the $474 monthly mortgage payment became difficult, then impossible.

It should have been a routine foreclosure, with Mrs. Bradbury joining the anonymous millions quietly dispossessed since the recession began. But she was savvy enough to contact a nonprofit group, Pine Tree Legal Assistance, where for once in her 38 years, she caught a break.

Her file was pulled, more or less at random, by Thomas A. Cox, a retired lawyer who volunteers at Pine Tree. He happened to know something about foreclosures because when he worked for a bank he did them all the time. Twenty years later, he had switched sides and, he says, was trying to make amends.

Suddenly, there is a frenzy over foreclosures. Every attorney general in the country is participating in an investigation into the flawed paperwork and questionable methods behind many of them. A Senate hearing is scheduled, and federal inquiries have begun. The housing market, which runs on foreclosure sales, is in turmoil. Bank stocks fell on Thursday as analysts tried to gauge the impact on lenders’ bottom lines.

All of this is largely because Mr. Cox realized almost immediately that Mrs. Bradbury’s foreclosure file did not look right. The documents from the lender, GMAC Mortgage, were approved by an employee whose title was “limited signing officer,” an indication to the lawyer that his knowledge of the case was effectively nonexistent.

Mr. Cox eventually won the right to depose the employee, who casually acknowledged that he had prepared 400 foreclosures a day for GMAC and that contrary to his sworn statements, they had not been reviewed by him or anyone else.

GMAC, the country’s fourth-largest mortgage lender, called this omission a technicality but was forced last month to halt foreclosures in the 23 states, including Maine, where they must be approved by a court. Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and other lenders that used robo-signers - the term caught on instantly - have enacted their own freezes.

The tragedy of foreclosure is that some homeowners may be able to stay where they are if their lenders are more interested in modification than eviction. Without a job, Mrs. Bradbury is not one of them. Her family, including her 14-year-old daughter and 16-year-old son, lives on welfare and food stamps.

“A lot of people say we just want a free ride,” Mrs. Bradbury said. “That’s not it. I’ve worked since I was 14. I’m not lazy. I’m just trying to keep us together. If we lost the house, my family would have to break up.”

It has been two years since she last paid the mortgage, which surprises even her lawyers.

“Had GMAC followed the legal requirements, she would have lost her home a long time ago,” acknowledged Geoffrey S. Lewis, another lawyer handling her case.

GMAC, which began as the financing arm of General Motors, has received $17 billion from taxpayers in an effort to keep it from failing and is now majority-owned by the federal government. A spokeswoman for the lender declined to comment on Mrs. Bradbury’s case because it was still being litigated.

John J. Aromando of the firm of Pierce Atwood in Portland, Me., the lawyer for GMAC and Fannie Mae, the mortgage holding company that owns Mrs. Bradbury’s loan, did not return calls for comment on Thursday.

Fannie Mae and GMAC, which serviced the loan for Fannie, have now most likely spent more to dislodge Mrs. Bradbury than her house is worth. Yet for all their efforts, they are not only losing this case, but also potentially laying the groundwork for foreclosure challenges nationwide.

“This ammunition will be front and center in thousands of foreclosure cases,” said Don Saunders of the National Legal Aid and Defender Association.

Just a few miles from the New Hampshire border, this slice of Maine does not have much in the way of industry or, for that matter, people. Mrs. Bradbury grew up around here, married and had her children here, and married for a second time here. Her parents still live nearby.

In 2003, her brother-in-law at the time offered to sell her a house on property adjacent to his. It was across from a noisy construction supply site. But it was ringed by maple, evergreen and willow trees, and who does not want to be a homeowner, especially when GMAC Mortgage will give you a loan for the entire purchase price and then another loan to improve the property?

“I was very happy,” she remembered. “It was a new beginning.”

But Mrs. Bradbury lost her job as an employment counselor in 2006 and did part-time work after that. Her husband, Scott, was in poor health and had other problems. He could not work as a roofer. She fell behind and got a modification from GMAC. It increased her monthly payments and provided no relief.

Finally, in late 2008, she stopped paying altogether, and GMAC asked a court to approve her eviction without a trial. By the summer of 2009, this removal was well under way when Mr. Cox picked up her file.

Mr. Cox, 66, worked in the late 1980s and early 1990s for Maine National Bank, a subsidiary of the Bank of New England, which went under. His job was to call in small-business loans. The borrowers had often pledged their houses as collateral, which meant foreclosure.

“It was extraordinarily unpleasant, but it paid well,” he said. “I had a family to support.”

The work exacted its cost: his marriage ended and a serious depression began. He gave up law and found solace in building houses. By April 2008, he said, he was sufficiently recovered and started volunteering at Pine Tree Legal.

By the time Mr. Cox saw Mrs. Bradbury’s case, it was just about over. Last January, Judge Keith A. Powers of the Ninth District Court of Maine approved the foreclosure, leaving the case alive only to establish exactly how much Mrs. Bradbury owed.

Mr. Cox vowed to a colleague that he would expose GMAC’s process and its limited signing officer, Jeffrey Stephan. A lawyer in another foreclosure case had already deposed Mr. Stephan, but Mr. Cox wanted to take the questioning much further. In June, he got his chance. A few weeks later, he spelled out in a court filing what he had learned from the robo-signer:

“When Stephan says in an affidavit that he has personal knowledge of the facts stated in his affidavits, he doesn’t. When he says that he has custody and control of the loan documents, he doesn’t. When he says that he is attaching ‘a true and accurate’ copy of a note or a mortgage, he has no idea if that is so, because he does not look at the exhibits. When he makes any other statement of fact, he has no idea if it is true. When the notary says that Stephan appeared before him or her, he didn’t.”

GMAC’s reaction to the deposition was to hire two new law firms, including Mr. Aromando’s firm, among the most prominent in the state. They argued that what Mrs. Bradbury and her lawyers were doing was simply a “dodge”: she had not paid her mortgage and should be evicted.

They also said that Mr. Cox, despite working pro bono, had taken the deposition “to prejudice and influence the public” against GMAC for his own commercial benefit. They asked that the transcriptbe deleted from any blog that had posted it and that it be put under court seal.

In a ruling late last month, Judge Powers said that GMAC, despite its expensive legal talent and the fact that it got “a second bite of the apple” by filing amended foreclosure papers, still could not get this eviction right.

Even the amended documents did not bother to include the actual street address of the property it was trying to seize, reason enough, the judge wrote, to reject the request for immediate foreclosure without a trial.

But Judge Powers went further than that, saying that GMAC had been admonished in a Florida court for using robo-signers four years ago but had persisted. “It is well past the time for such practices to end,” he wrote, adding that GMAC had acted “in bad faith” by submitting Mr. Stephan’s material:

“Filing such a documentwithout significant regard for its accuracy, which the court in ordinary circumstances may never be able to investigate or otherwise verify, is a serious and troubling matter.”

It was not a complete loss for GMAC Judge Powers declined to find the lender in contempt ח— but nearly so. GMAC was ordered, as a penalty, to pay Mr. Cox personally what he would have been paid for his work on the deposition and related matters had he been charging Mrs. Bradbury. That, he says, is $27,000.

The court’s ruling on GMAC’s “bad faith” is already being taken up by foreclosure defense lawyers around the country. Mr. Cox “did a remarkable job of proving the lenders not only rubber-stamped these loans on the front end, but they rubber-stamped them on the back end,” said Mr. Saunders of the legal aid group.

GMAC, which this week expanded its foreclosure freeze to the entire country, is not giving up on Mrs. Bradbury. It will try for the third time to evict her when the case goes to trial this winter.

If Mrs. Bradbury is not quite victorious, she is still in her house, and for her that is the only thing that counts. If she can get her pickup fixed, she will go back to looking for a job.

“I am not leaving,” she said this week, standing out on her front lawn, the autumn splendor spread all around her. “We have nowhere to go.”


Posted by Elvis on 10/16/10 •
Section Dying America
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Running on Empty


Mortgage Rates Return To 1951. If Only We Could.

By Charles Feldman
Bigger Pockets
October 14, 2010

In 1951, television was in black and white, computers were the size of a 747, and the rate for a 30 year fixed-rate mortgage was just about 4.19%

This week, a new flat panel, 3D television that does not need special glasses was revealed, computers are married to telephones which fit in your shirt pocket, and the rate for a 30 year fixed-rate mortgage is just about 4.19%

You read that right. Mortgage rates are at record lows; the WSJ saying that Freddie Mac figures they havent been this low since before “I Love Lucy” first went on the air!

So, people should be flocking to their real estate agents buying up homes left and right. Right? Wrong!

One big difference between 1951 and 2010 (other than the fact that people, in general, are far less literate but do know the entire year line-up for “Dancing with the Stars") is that in 1951, people actually went to work each morning. They were able to do this because they actually had jobs. You remember jobs? That’s where you go , usually on a daily basis, to earn enough money to afford to buy a house while taking advantage of interest rates as low as 4.19%.

Now, unlike 1951, the unemployment rate remains steady and high; the economy shows little to no signs that it will produce lots of private sector jobs anytime soon; state and local governments are laying off workers; and the housing industry, especially in states such as California, Florida, Arizona and Nevada, remains shattered. And, thats a nice way of putting it.

But until people actually have jobs - and ones that pay wages that mean something - it doesn’t matter if the 30 year fixed rate drops to 1%. If you dont have a job, you are not going to buy a house. Simple as that.

In fact, the dropping rate is a bad sign - a temperature showing the patient is not making a recovery. Except, in this case, the lower the numbers go, the worst off it means the patient is. In this case, the patient, of course, is the economy.

The rates are so low because there is not much competition out there for new mortgages. In fact, most of those thus far taking advantage of the lower fixed rates are those who still have jobs and credit and are able to refinance. But that does just about nothing to get the economy going. Only sales of new or exisiting homes will do that and the figures there have not been very encouraging for a long time now.

1951. We were so innocent. We were so socially conservative. We were so employed!


Posted by Elvis on 10/16/10 •
Section Dying America
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Saturday, October 09, 2010

September 2010 Jobs Picture

Fifteen months since recessions official end, economy short 11.5 million jobs

By Heidi Shierholz
Research assistance from Kathryn Edwards and Andrew Green
Economc Policy Institute
October 8, 2010

The September 2010 employment report released this morning by the Bureau of Labor Statistics again showed positive but totally inadequate private sector employment growth, with the addition of 64,000 private-sector jobs in September.  State and local governments, their budgets crunched, lost 83,000 jobs.  The pain of the state and local budget problems are clear in these numbers: of the 83,000 state and local jobs lost, 58,000 were in education, as teachers and other education workers were not called back for the new school year.  September was the first month this year where, barring changes in temporary Census workers, the labor market lost jobs. The unemployment rate held steady at 9.6%. 

While the private sector gained 64,000 jobs, the total number of payroll jobs decreased 95,000 in September due to government employment losses.  The federal government shed 77,000 temporary 2010 Decennial Census workers in September, while state and local governments lost 83,000 jobs. With only 6,000 temporary Census workers remaining, the effect of the Census on the payroll employment numbers has now run its course.  But with state and local government budget problems continuing, losses in public employment will continue.

Todays report included a preliminary estimate of the annual benchmark revision to payrolls.  The estimates show that when the revisions ultimately occur (with the release of the January 2011 data), they will likely show a downward revision of around 366,000--in other words, that the establishment survey overestimated job growth between April 2009 and March 2010 by 366,000.  This compares to a downward revision of over 900,000 last year.

Wages and Hours

Average hourly wages increased in September by a penny, from $22.66 to $22.67.  Nominal hourly wage growth had been generally slowing over the course of the recession.  For example, from 2010Q1 to 2010Q2, nominal wages grew at a 1.1% annualized rate, compared to a 3.2% rate during the year before the recession started.  However, wage growth picked up somewhat in the third quarter of this year, growing at a 1.9% annualized rate.  With unemployment expected to remain high for a long time, recent wage growth improvements are not likely to continue over the longer-term.

The length of the average workweek held steady in September, at 34.2 hours.  There has been no improvement in average hours since May, though average hours (for all private employees) are up 1.5% from their low of 33.7 last fall.  However, at the start of the recession in December 2007, the length of the average workweek in the private sector was 34.7 hours, so there remains a great deal to make up.  Simply restoring average hours worked by all 108 million private-sector workers from 34.2 back to 34.7 would be equivalent to adding 1.6 million new jobs.  The gradual restoration of average hours will therefore be an ongoing drag on new hiring.

Weekly wages, which combines the impact of changes in hourly wages and average hours, increased slightly in September, from $774.97 to $775.31.  After falling faster than hourly wage growth for the year and a half of the recession as hours were cut back, weekly earnings growth saw improvements from the summer of 2009 to the spring of 2010, driven in part by the increase in average hours between the fall of 2009 and the spring of 2010. However, as average hours have stalled out since May, so have weekly wages.  Weekly wages have grown at an annualized rate of 1.6% since May, after growing at an annualized rate of 3.2% in the six months before that.

Labor Force

The labor force increased by 48,000 in September, leaving the labor force participation rate unchanged at 64.7%.  The labor force participation rate is still far below its prerecession level of 66.0% in December 2007, so the pool of missing workers, that is, workers who dropped out of (or didn’t enter) the labor force during the downturn, remains large.  We can estimate its size in the following way.  The labor force should have increased by around 3.8 million workers from December 2007 to September 2010 given working-age population growth over this period, but instead it grew by 289,000. This means that the pool of missing workers now numbers around 3.5 million.  None of these workers are currently reflected in the official unemployment count, but as they enter or re-enter the labor force in search of work, this will contribute to keeping the unemployment rate high.

Long-term unemployment

The share of unemployed workers who have been unemployed for over six months dropped from 42% to 41.7% in September.  This improvement likely reflects workers dropping out of the labor force after exhausting unemployment insurance benefits.  Despite this, the long-term unemployed share remains the seventh-highest on record, and there are still 6.1 million workers who have been unemployed for longer than six months.  These dramatic figures are unsurprising given that there are still 4.6 unemployed workers per available job.  The median, or typical, unemployment spell rose from 19.9 to 20.4 weeks, and the average unemployment spell dropped from 33.6 to 33.3 weeks.


The underemployment rate, or the U-6 measure of labor underutilization, is a more comprehensive measure of labor market slack than the unemployment rate because it includes not just the officially unemployed, but also jobless workers who have given up looking for work and people who want full-time jobs but have had to settle for part-time work (note, however, it does not include people underemployed in the sense that they have had to take a job that is below their skills, training, or experience level).  This measure increased by 0.4 percentage points to 17.1% in September, meaning that more than one in six U.S. workers was either unemployed or underemployed.  The number of involuntary part-time workers increased by 612,000, while the number of marginally attached workers (jobless workers who have given up looking for work), increased by 139,000.  In September, there were a total of 26.8 million workers who were either unemployed or underemployed

Demographic breakdowns

All major demographic groups have experienced substantial increases in unemployment over this downturn, though men, racial and ethnic minorities, young workers, and workers with lower levels of schooling have gotten hit particularly hard.

In September, unemployment was 17.9% among workers age 16-24, 8.7% among 25-54 year olds, and 7.2% among workers 55 and older (increases of 6.1, 4.6, and 4.0 percentage points, respectively, since the start of the recession in December 2007).

Unemployment was 16.1% among black workers, 12.4% among Hispanic workers, and 8.7% among white workers (increases of 7.1, 6.1, and 4.3 percentage points, respectively, since the start of the recession).

Unemployment was 10.5% for men, compared to 8.6% for women (increases of 5.4 and 3.7 percentage points since the start of the recession).

For workers age 25 or older, unemployment reached 10.0% for high-school-educated workers and 4.4% for those with a college degree (increases of 5.3 and 2.3 percentage points, respectively, since the start of the recession).

Industry sectors

All of the gains in private-sector jobs were in service-providing industriesservice-producing industries added 86,000 jobs while goods-producing industries lost 22,000 jobs.  Restaurants and bars added 33,900 jobs, one real bright spot.  Health care added 23,900 jobs, on par with what it added in the prior three months.  Temporary help services added 16,900, close to what it added in August.  Retail trade added 5,700 in September, an improvement over its performance in the last four months, in which it averaged a loss of 3,200.

Construction lost 21,000 jobs, after adding an average of 7,000 jobs a month over the prior three months.  Manufacturing lost 6,000 jobs in September, after adding an average of 18,000 a month for the first eight months of the year.  Septemberגs loss was all in non-durable goods.

In the public sector, aside from changes in temporary Census jobs, the shedding of jobs at the state and local level remains an ongoing drag on employment growth.  In September, state and local governments shed 83,000 jobs (-7,000 state, -76,000 local).  The pain of the state and local budget problems are clear in these numbers: of the 83,000 state and local jobs lost, 58,000 were in education, as teachers and other education workers were not called back for the new school year.  Since their peak in September 2008, state and local governments have shed 410,000 jobs (-57,000 state, -353,000 local). 


The labor market remains an estimated 8.1 million payroll jobs below where it was at the start of the recession in December 2007.  This number includes both the 7.8 million jobs lost in the payroll data as currently published plus the announced preliminary benchmark revision of -366,000 jobs to last Marchs employment level.  And even this number understates the size of the gap in the labor market by failing to take into account the fact that simply to keep up with the growth in the working-age population, the labor market should have added around 3.4 million jobs since December 2007.  This means the labor market is now roughly 11.5 million jobs below the level needed to restore the pre-recession unemployment rate (5.0% in December 2007).  To get down to the pre-recession unemployment rate within five years, the labor market would have to add around 300,000 jobs every month for that entire period. In September, excluding changes in temporary Census hiring, the labor market lost 18,000.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that without the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the unemployment rate would be up to 2 percentage points higher than it is right now, and we would have up to 5.2 million fewer full-time equivalent jobs.  In other words, ARRA worked, but was never big enough given the scale of the crisis.  With a deficit of 11.5 million jobs, a 9.6% unemployment rate, a private sector failing to provide robust job growth, and a recovery act now fading out, Congress and the Federal Reserve Board need to take action to stimulate the economy and create jobs.


Posted by Elvis on 10/09/10 •
Section Dying America
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Sunday, October 03, 2010

Got a Job For a Highly-Skilled Layed Off NASA Worker?


Shuttle layoffs leave some workers adrift

By John Couwels
October 1, 2010

After 31 years and two months at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, John Bundy is joining the ranks of the unemployed.

He showed up for his last day at 7 a.m. Friday, turned in his employee badge and then left to go hunting.

“I’m very proud I was a part of this,” he said. “There were some challenging times, but I am glad I was part of this team.”

He is one of more than 1,200 United Space Alliance employees whose were laid off October 1: coincidentally, the same day NASA began operating in 1958.

Bundy, 50, started his career as a technician on the shuttle thermal protection system and then worked his way up to manager for Kennedy Space Center’s orbital processing facility.

Now, he’s updating his resume and taking welding classes at Brevard Community College in hopes of finding another job.

“I don’t know how to put 31 years into a sentence,” Bundy said.

McGinnis and the others who walked out the door of the Kennedy Space Center on Friday are some of the nearly 9,000 NASA employees whose JOBS WILL BE CUT as the SHUTTLE PROGRAM nears its end.

Some of those jobs may be extended if President Obama signs the $19 billion budget for the space agency, passed by Congress this week, that authorizes an additional shuttle launch.

But the extension comes too late for Bundy and the other United Space Alliance employees.

The ending came as no surprise: Six years ago, President George W. Bush announced that 2010 would be the last year for the shuttle program.

Because many NASA workers like Bundy have specialized jobs, it will be hard to transition from the space agency to other employment.

With the help of federal funding, Florida has set up a transitional program to help aerospace workers prepare for new employment.

Many of the NASA employees seeking employment help are “like deer in the headlights,” said Lisa Rice, president of Brevard Workforce, which runs the federally funded aerospace transitional program.

“First reaction: ‘Where do I go? What do I do?’ “ she said, describing NASA employees’ responses after being laid off.

Job loss, Rice explains, is kind of like a grieving process. With the help of the transitional program, aerospace employees are lead through the process of resume writing, sharpening interviewing techniques and developing skills needed for new jobs.

Many Kennedy Space Center workers, like Bundy, have not written a resume for more than 30 years. Transitional instructors teach workers how to include decades of experience into a one- or two-page resume.

“You need to have a plan B,” said transitional program director Judy Blanchard. “The shuttle is retiring, and the end is inevitable.”

Boeing aerospace engineer Juan Vazquez took the warning to heart, having worked on shuttles for 23 years.

This year, he opened two laundromats that he runs in his spare time. To ensure that he would succeed as a small-business owner, Vazquez completed the transitional program’s entrepreneur training class.

“I grew up on shuttle. I’ve been working on shuttle since I was 18 years old,” Vazquez said. “I pretty much live and breathe this stuff. I really enjoy what I do.”

Other shuttle workers have had a hard time coming to terms with the idea that there is no definite replacement for shuttle, according to Rice.

When Bush announced that the shuttle program would end in 2010, he said it would be replaced by the Constellation program to return man to the moon and beyond.

Many shuttle workers held out hope that they could find new jobs in the Constellation program, which would have included two new rocket systems and a new crew module to transport astronauts into space.

From the beginning, Constellation was plagued by underfunding. This year, Obama killed the program’s future funding because of budget overruns and because it was behind schedule.

That could affect more than 20,000 workers along Florida’s space coast, according to Rice.

“We are looking at 9,000 aerospace workers who will be affected with another 14,000 indirectly affected in community,” she said.

For Bundy, walking away from Kennedy Space Center was not as hard as he thought, he said Friday morning. He praised United Space Alliance for going “above and beyond to help their people adjust, from job placement to constant job fairs.”

But it’s more about just losing a job, he explained.

“I have a lot of friends, a lot of teammates,” Bundy said. “I wish them all the best, and I’m going to miss them all.”


Posted by Elvis on 10/03/10 •
Section Dying America
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