Friday, March 4, 2011

Morning Brief: Economy adds jobs, as legislators warn of layoffs; Trinity Mirror to launch apps, but no paywall

Some decent news this morning on the economic front as the US economy added 192,000 jobs in February. Job gains, according to the report, occurred in manufacturing, construction, professional and business services, health care, and transportation and warehousing.

The unemployment rate ticked down to 8.9 percent, though the civilian labor force participation numbers were unchanged in February, with 13.7 million Americans still out of work.

The "official" unemployment rate represents the U-3, total unemployed, as a percent of the civilian labor force. One year ago the seasonally adjusted U-3 stood at 9.7. The broader measure of unemployment, knows as the U-6, has been declining, as well. The government reports that last month that number was 15.9 percent, versus 16.8 a year ago.

Sensing improving job numbers, Paul Krugman, the NYT columnist and winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics, wrote this morning of his concerns that Republican legislators are working to slow the economy through their demands for severe budget cuts.
Krugman wrote this morning that the "clear and present danger to recovery, however, comes from politics — specifically, the demand from House Republicans that the government immediately slash spending on infant nutrition, disease control, clean water and more. Quite aside from their negative long-run consequences, these cuts would lead, directly and indirectly, to the elimination of hundreds of thousands of jobs — and this could short-circuit the virtuous circle of rising incomes and improving finances."

As if trying to prove Krugman write, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker told reporters that he was prepared to layoff 1,500 state workers unless the 14 state senate Democrats do not return to the state so that Walker can pass his bill which would eliminate collective bargaining rights for most state workers.

The governor, who wants to cut government spending, employment, and regulation anyway, desires to shift the blame for the impasse away from the Republicans who have so far showed no desire to compromise on their goal to end union rights in the state. Earlier the Assembly passed the "budget repair bill" by voice vote. The vote took was so short, approximately 17 seconds, that many representatives could not register their votes through the electronic voting system.

An even more draconian version of the union-busting bill is speeding its way through the Ohio state legislature.

Trinity Mirror plc chief executive Sly Bailey told The Guardian that the newspaper company has will be launching its first paid media apps for tablets soon, but will not be pursuing a web paywall strategy.

"Consumers are showing pretty much zero propensity for [paying for] general news content on the web, on a national or regional basis," Bailey told The Guardian's Mark Sweney. "We have no plans to introduce paywalls on our sites".

Trinity Mirror publishes three national magazines for Britain, and two for Scotland, as well as free and paid regional publications.