IN A NUTSHELL: “The current economic slowdown, that hopefully can be blamed on the weather, is widespread.”
WHAT IT MEANS: January can be a cruel month and this year it is especially so. Job gains were mediocre, unemployment claims are above where we would like to see them, retail sales were pathetic and not surprisingly, manufacturers reacted by cutting back production sharply. Industrial production was off moderately in January but only because utilities had to produce massive amounts to heat our homes, offices and plants. Manufacturing output tanked as fifteen of the nineteen industry groups posted declines.
After seeing a technology project fall $60 million over budget and 42 months behind, state Labor and Industry Secretary Julia Hearthway has decided it’s time to pull the plug on a contract to modernize the state’s unemployment compensation computer system.