More jobs numbers…
Unemployment claims figures for the week ending December 22 fell to their lowest point since March 2008, with the number of first-time applicants decreasing to 12,000 from 350,000. But those numbers could have been impacted by the holiday, with the Labor Department unable to pull together all data from offices that were closed on Monday and Tuesday.
“The recent decline in unemployment benefit applications suggests companies are not yet slashing jobs because of concerns over the ‘fiscal cliff,'” the AP (via USA Today) reports. “Still, unemployment remains high and companies are reluctant to ramp up hiring.”
Last we checked, monthly unemployment numbers (a better barometer for the state of the economy) had reached a four-year low of 7.7 percent in November. The AP notes that there are other signs of improvement, like orders coming in for manufactured goods, and more construction jobs, signaling a stronger housing market.
But stymied holiday sales numbers indicate that consumers are still worried about whether their taxes are going to go up if we go over that aforementioned fiscal cliff.
Unemployment numbers for the black community have consistently been higher (in some cases, double) those of the nationwide average. Right before Christmas, BET founder Robert Johnson called on President Obama to do something about closing that gap.
“Johnson, the billionaire chairman of the RLJ Companies and founder of Black Entertainment Television, said the disparity could be narrowed if Obama encouraged U.S. corporations to voluntarily embrace a plan to interview at least two qualified minority candidates for every job at the vice president level or above,” reported The Washington Post. “He said companies should also interview two minority-owned firms for vendor supply and other contracts.” A similar rule is in effect for the National Football League, the article continues.