Hot Topics: Gloomy Employment Report Sets Stage for Obama Jobs Plan
U.S. workers got more bad news today: The country added the equivalent of no new jobs during August, falling below economists' forecasts. It was the job market's worst showing in close to a year but not surprising given the events of the past month, including the debt ceiling standoff, stock market gyrations and Hurricane Irene.
August's 9.1 percent unemployment rate reflected continued strong hiring in the health-care industry, which added 30,000 jobs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Those gains, however, were negated by government layoffs and a telecommunications workers' strike that temporarily lowered employment in that industry.
Midcareer and older workers fared slightly better than younger members of the work force. The unemployment rates:
- for people over 45 dropped slightly, to 7 percent from 7.2 percent in July and 7.8 percent a year ago.
- for people over 55 fell to 6.6 percent, down from 6.9 percent the previous month and 7.3 percent a year ago.
- for people 65 and older rose slightly to 6.9 percent, up from 6.7 percent in July, but dropped from 7.3 percent in August 2010.
The August employment report comes six days before President Obama is scheduled to announce his plan for boosting job growth in a prime-time, televised speech that was postponed by a day after protests that it would conflict with a Republican presidential candidates' debate slated for the same night. Economists, pundits and other financial analysts have speculated that the president's plans might include:
- Extending payroll tax cuts
- Extending unemployment insurance benefits
- Boosting construction jobs by providing federal funds to repair public schools
- Employer tax cuts
- Reducing industry regulations and signing trade agreements
- Spending on roads, bridges, mass transit and other transportation infrastructure
- Supporting private-public sector partnerships to create alternative energy jobs in rural communities
In advance of the announcement, Obama tapped Princeton University economist Alan Krueger, an expert on work force issues, to lead the White House Council of Economic Advisors. He also has consulted with "the Oracle from Omaha," Warren Buffett,and Ford Motor Co. head Alan Mulally about how to stimulate the economy.
The president still must persuade Corporate America that his ideas will work. At least one recent poll shows that companies remain reluctant to hire white-collar workers. Of executives surveyed in staffing firm Robert Half International's quarterly employment report, 82 percent said they didn't expect to hire professional-level staff in the fourth quarter. Of the remainder, 12 percent expected to bring on new staff, with hiring strongest for legal, marketing and advertising positions. Five percent of executives surveyed foresaw cutting back on professional staff.
No Summer Vacation for the News: Between the hunt for Libya's leader, the London riots, Steve Jobs' resignation, Wall Street's mood swings and natural disasters, August was closer to hyperactive puppy than dog days of summer. According to business researcher Factiva, 7.85 percent more news was published in August than would normally be expected, the largest such jump over the past 10 years. The next newsiest August came in 2004, which saw a 5.37 percent bump in news published ahead of that year's presidential election, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Adults' Social Networks Use Mushrooms: A third of all U.S. adults 50 to 64 visit Facebook, Twitter or other social networks every day, up from 20 percent a year ago, according to a new Pew Research Center poll. In all, 65 percent of U.S. adults are on social networks, up from 61 percent in 2010. The bulk of that growth is from people 65 and older, whose social media use grew 150 percent in the past year. During the same time, 50- to 64-year-olds' social media use doubled, to 51 percent from 25 percent, according to the survey.
TechCrunch Founder Steps into Venture Role: When Michael Arrington talks, Silicon Valley listens. Now they might invest, too. Arrington, 41, started TechCrunch in 2005 and built it into one of the most influential blogs covering the U.S. tech industry before selling to AOL last year for a reported $30 million. Arrington says he'll launch a $20 million venture fund backed by AOL and resign as TechCrunch's managing editor.
Mom of 11 Heads to Harvard: Thirty years after Allyson Reneau dropped out of college to get married and start a family, the Oklahoma mother of 11 is headed to Harvard University's graduate program in international studies. Reneau, 50, was a stay-at-home mom for 20 years before re-enrolling at the University of Oklahoma, where she maintained a 4.0 grade point average while raising her children, now ages 6 to 29. It's not Reneau's first major accomplishment. According to a FoxNews profile, Reneau is also a former world champion baton twirler and owns a gymnastics studio. With support from a generous benefactor, she'll fly to Harvard's campus every Monday for classes before heading home again on Tuesday. "I've got one life to live," Reneau says. "I'm going to live it and give it all I've got."
70-Year-Old Breaks Channel Swim Record: Retired British surgeon Roger Allsopp became the oldest person to swim the English Channel, coming ashore in France on Aug. 31, after finishing the 21-nautical-mile swim in 17 hours, 51 minutes. Allsopp is 70 years old and four months; the previous record-holder was 70 years old and four days. "I've never been one to sit on my laurels," Allsopp tells FoxSports.com. "Retirement has been wonderful, but I know how important it is to keep active in mind and body to live a healthy retirement, and so I set myself physical challenges to ensure that I keep as fit and healthy as I can."
Happy Birthday, Keanu Reeves. The Speed and Matrix star turns 47 today. According to The Wrap, Reeves recently finished filming 47 Ronin, an adaptation of a Japanese martial arts movie, and is negotiating funding for a second martial arts film called Tai Chi Man that he wrote and hopes to direct.
Website of the Week: Discount designer website ideeli offers daily deals on Burberry, Versace and other mid- and high-end labels. The fashion etailer has been such a hit that Inc. recently named it America's fastest-growing private company of 2011.
Last Word: "A good marriage is a bit like a pet boa constrictor: either you feed it every day or bad things happen." -- writer Ty Wenger on MSN, about the lifestyles of super happy couples
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