US Gains 288k Jobs, Most In 2 Years; Rate 6.3 Percent

WASHINGTON (AP) – U.S. employers added a robust 288,000 jobs in April, the most in two years, the strongest evidence to date that the economy is picking up after a brutal winter slowed growth.

The Labor Department also said Friday that the unemployment rate sank to 6.3 percent, its lowest level since September 2008, from 6.7 percent in March. But the drop occurred because the number of people working or seeking work fell sharply. People aren’t counted as unemployed if they’re not looking for a job.

In addition to the burst of hiring in April, employers added more jobs in February and March than previously estimated. The job totals for those two months were revised up by a combined 36,000.

Employers have now added an average of 238,000 jobs the past three months, up from 167,000 in the previous three.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20140502_ap_8f84a138e20f4ac28ac7183f68972fba.html#8ZcZ0H6uK0amdHP5.99

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Staples To Shutter 225 Stores As Sales Move Online

Staples (Canada)

Staples (Canada) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

FRAMINGHAM, MA (AP) – Staples will close up to 225 stores in North America by the end of next year as it seeks to trim about $500 million in costs annually by 2015.

The nation’s largest office-supply retailer said Thursday that nearly half of its sales are now generated online, so it will aggressively cut costs to become more efficient.

Company shares dropped more than 10 percent before markets opened.

The recession did heavy damage to the industry, which is now under increasing pressure from online retailers as well as discount stores.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20140306_ap_77eb92fd166d43918b55776a4cd110bf.html#y7MAZEw1cUTxW8ok.99

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RadioShack Corp. To Close 1,100 Stores, Company Reports

English: A Radio Shack store in the Plaza Cara...

English: A Radio Shack store in the Plaza Caracol shopping center on Boulevard Francisco Medina Ascensio in the city of Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

RadioShack Corp. said it plans to close up to 1,100 stores in the U.S. and reported a wider quarterly loss after a disappointing holiday season.

Its stock tumbled 24 percent in premarket trading today and was down 11 percent at 2.42 after opening on the New York Stock Exchange.

CEO Joseph Magnacca said in statement that the store closings would leave RadioShack with more than 4,000 U.S. stores, including more than 900 dealer franchise locations. The company didn’t immediately identify which stores will be closed or how many jobs would be affected.

There are several stores in the Lehigh Valley, including stores within a mile of each other in Palmer Township.

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/breaking-news/index.ssf/2014/03/radioshack_to_close_1100_store.html

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J.C. Penney Closing 33 Stores – 2 In Philadelphia Suburbs

English: JCPenney store at the Holiday Village...

English: JCPenney store at the Holiday Village Mall in Great Falls, Montana, taken March 4, 2007. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Struggling department-store operator J.C. Penney Co. announced it will cut 2,000 jobs and close 33 stores – including its stores in Exton and Burlington – as it tries to get back on the path to profitability.

The news raises concerns that Penney’s holiday season sales were not what the company hoped for and that the chain needs to do even more to recover from a turnaround plan that has had disastrous results.

J.C. Penney said earlier this month said it was pleased with its holiday results but declined to give sales figures, raising worries among Wall Street analysts about how the season actually fared.

Penney has 116,000 staffers and operates more than 1,100 stores.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20140116_Penney_closing_33_stores_-_2_in_Phila__suburbs.html#uJtvJ5BOgUjA4UKO.99

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Macy’s To Cut 2,500 Jobs, Close Stores

Macy's logo

Macy’s logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Macy’s Inc. is cutting 2,500 jobs as part of a reorganization to sustain its profitability.

The announcement comes on the heels of a strong holiday shopping season for the department store chain.

Macy’s said Wednesday that it will reassign or transfer some workers and add some positions, leaving its workforce level at about 175,000.

The Cincinnati-based company plans to close five stores and open eight others, leaving it with 844 stores nationwide once the changes are complete.

Read more: http://www.inyork.com/community/ci_24868130/macys-cut-2-500-jobs?source=rss

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Merck Files Notice Of 500 Montco Layoffs

Location of Upper Gwynedd Township in Montgome...

Location of Upper Gwynedd Township in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The drugmaker Merck & Co. will lay off 500 people from its facility in West Point, Montgomery County, between Dec. 23 and Jan. 5.

Merck said on Oct. 1 that it would eliminate 8,500 jobs from its worldwide workforce beyond the 7,500 it had not yet cut from an earlier restructuring plan, but company officials were not specific about where and when.

Several big pharmaceutical companies with operations in the area are cutting jobs. Message boards devoted to Merck have been full of discussions about which units would lose people, but official public notice of the 500 job cuts at the West Point facility came because of a federal law called the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN).

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20131102_Merck_files_notice_of_500_Montco_layoffs.html#S8XhpVChWKLAmKe5.99

What’s Lost In Gaining An Hour

Time change at the end of Daylight Saving Time...

Time change at the end of Daylight Saving Time Nederlands: Tijdsverandering aan het eind van de zomertijd (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At 2 a.m. Sunday, by arbitrary human decree, time will stand still for one hour.

While this rare interstice of being and nothingness offers great opportunities for philosophical musing – Who knows where the time goes? Does anybody really know what time it is? And is time really on our side? – a price must be paid for messing with the universe.

For with this annual lapsing of daylight saving time comes a constellation of ill health effects, from the mildly uncomfortable to the nearly nightmarish.

Studies have found that on the Monday after the time changes, more people kill themselves, hurt themselves on the job, and lose money in the stock market.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20131102_What_s_lost_in_gaining_an_hour.html#lcw8rvcBfCelIK9p.99

Alcoa Has Profitable Third Quarter

English: HABS No. PA-6724-2. View of entrance ...

English: HABS No. PA-6724-2. View of entrance to ALCOA Building from southwest. ALCOA Building (a.k.a. Regional Enterprise Tower), 425 Sixth Avenue, Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. Entrance pavilion built of glass and aluminum. Design by Harrison and Abramovitz. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Alcoa today reported a small profit in the third quarter, saying productivity improvements offset lower sales and falling aluminum prices.

The company said it earned $24 million, or 2 cents per share, on sales of $5.77 billion vs. a loss of $143 million, or 13 cents per share, and sales of $5.83 billion in the year-ago quarter.

The results included $109 million in after-tax restructuring charges related to shutting down smelters in the face of a glut in aluminum supply. Alcoa said it has idled 274,000 metric tons of high-cost capacity in the last five months.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/business/news/alcoa-has-profitable-third-quarter-706729/#ixzz2hARy0Nrl

US Employers Add 169K Jobs; Rate Falls To 7.3 Percent

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. employers have yet to start hiring aggressively — a trend the Federal Reserve will weigh in deciding this month whether to slow its bond buying and, if so, by how much.

Employers added 169,000 jobs in August but many fewer in June and July than previously thought, the Labor Department said Friday. Combined, June, July and August amounted to the weakest three-month stretch of job growth in a year.

The unemployment rate dropped to 7.3 percent, the lowest in nearly five years. But it fell because more Americans stopped looking for work and were no longer counted as unemployed. The proportion of Americans working or looking for work reached its lowest point in 35 years.

All told, the report adds up to a mixed picture of the U.S. job market: Hiring is steady but subpar. Much of the hiring is in lower-paying occupations. And many people are giving up on the job market in frustration.

Read more: http://bigstory.ap.org/article/us-employers-add-169k-jobs-rate-falls-73-pct

Confidence On Upswing, Mergers Make Comeback

The mega-merger is back.

For the corporate takeover business, the last half-decade was a fallow period.  Wall Street deal makers and chief executives, brought low by the global financial crisis, lacked the confidence to strike the audacious multibillion-dollar acquisitions that had defined previous market booms.

Cycles, however, turn, and in the opening weeks of 2013, merger activity has suddenly roared back to life.  On Thursday, Berkshire Hathaway, the conglomerate run by Warren E. Buffett, said it had teamed up with Brazilian investors to buy the ketchup maker H. J. Heinz for about $23 billion.  And American Airlines and US Airways agreed to merge in a deal valued at $11 billion.

Those transactions come a week after a planned $24 billion buyout of the computer company Dell by its founder, Michael S. Dell, and private equity backers.  And Liberty Global, the company controlled by the billionaire media magnate John C. Malone, struck a $16 billion deal to buy the British cable business Virgin Media.

Read more:  http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2013/02/14/confidence-on-upswing-mergers-make-comeback/?hp

Vignettes Of Black Friday

With promotions, discounts and doorbusters already well under way on Thanksgiving Day itself, many big-box retailers are making Black Friday stretch longer than ever.  The Lede is checking out the mood of American consumers in occasional vignettes Thursday and Friday as the economically critical holiday shopping season kicks off.

Shoppers waiting outside Sam’s Club in Eagan, Minn., for Friday’s 7 a.m. opening clung to free Starbuck’s Holiday Blend coffee as they endured freezing temperatures and biting winds and collected brightly colored vouchers for laptops and big-screen TVs.

The biggest draw: a 96-cent Samsung Galaxy S III smartphone.  Once inside, they also beelined for tickets for the 63 Samsungs in stock, which sold out shortly after the store opened.  Customers could make an appointment for later in the day or another day to purchase the phone, choosing from three carriers, Verizon, T-Mobile or Sprint.

“O.K., this is my last blue for Sprint,” an employee called out at 7:08 a.m.

Read more:  http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/22/coverage-of-black-friday/?hp

Amazon A Virtual No-Show In Hometown Philanthropy

SEATTLE — Conceived on Wall Street, born in a Bellevue, Wash., rental house, and based in a dozen buildings in downtown Seattle, Amazon has grown into one of the Internet’s most-recognized name brands.

But Amazon, which employed 1,381 in 2011 at its Breinigsville warehouse complex, cuts an astoundingly low profile in the civic life of its hometown.

It’s a minor player in charitable giving in the Seattle area. Some nonprofit officials say it can be difficult to find someone at Amazon to even talk with them. Other business leaders say they’re hard-pressed to name examples of Amazon playing a significant role on broader public issues.

And while Amazon’s logo smile appears on billions of boxes that criss-cross the globe, neither that smile nor its name can be seen on a single building at its sprawling new campus in Seattle’s South Lake Union area. The company, which turns 18 this summer, won’t even acknowledge how many employees it has in the area.

Read more: http://www.mcall.com/news/local/mc-amazon-charity-20120407,0,5273935.story

Yahoo To Lay Off 2,000 Employees

Deutsch: Logo von Yahoo

Deutsch: Logo von Yahoo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  Betcha nobody is yelling “yahoo” over this news!

(Reuters) – Yahoo Inc will lay off 2,000 people, or 14 percent of its workforce, in its deepest round of job cuts in years as new Chief Executive Scott Thompson tries to jumpstart growth with a leaner, more agile company while saving hundreds of millions of dollars.

Wall Street’s reaction was lukewarm, after two previous Yahoo CEOs failed to find an answer to rivals like Web-search leader Google and the Facebook social-networking site.

Sunnyvale, California-based Yahoo, which ended 2011 with some 14,000 employees, said it would save $375 million annually from the cuts and incur a pre-tax cash charge in the second quarter of $125 million to $145 million.

Read more: http://www.mcall.com/business/sns-rt-us-yahoo-layoffbre8330ly-20120404,0,1433746.story

Occupy Pottstown Stages Peaceful Demonstration To Raise Awareness

A group of concerned citizens staged a peaceful demonstration at the corner of South Hanover Street and College Drive this afternoon to raise awareness about the problems that are plaguing our society and Pottstown.  Occupy Pottstown is a diverse group of people brought together by the desire to promote social change.   The group varied in size over the nearly three-hour demonstration and included all age ranges.  A few dozen people came and went during the demonstration; with several people joining the group after getting home from work.  One person left early to go to work.  Contrary to what some believe, most people in Occupy Pottstown are employed and a good percentage are homeowners in the borough. 

The majority of people driving by had two reactions:  a.  they just looked or b.  they blew their horns in support!  There were a few who yelled clever things out their window like “get a job”, but they were a small minority.

The news media turned out to cover today’s event.  A reporter and photographer from the Fishwrap were present along with someone from Channel 69.

The next rally will be Saturday, November 27th aka Small Business Saturday, in downtown Pottstown.   Occupy Pottstown is looking to support downtown Pottstown merchants.  The rally will be from 10am until noon.

Here are some pictures from this afternoon’s demonstration.

Housing’s Dead — Is It Time to Buy?

A typical colonial-style single family home in...

Image via Wikipedia

BOSTON (The Street Ratings) — No one’s buying homes, never mind homebuilder stocks. Companies such as Pulte(PHM), DR Horton(DHI) and Lennar(LEN) may even be the most contrarian investment today.

The outlook for the housing market, as reported by the mass media, is not good. In case you’ve missed them, here are a few of the headlines from over the past several weeks:

“No recovery in sight for U.S. housing market”

“July real estate market fell short of expectation”

“Housing data shows sector is still weak”

To read the rest of the story, click here:

http://business-news.thestreet.com/berksmont-news/story/housings-dead-is-it-time-to-buy/11224534