Saturday, January 22, 2011

JobWatch: Minnesota and the Dakotas: What Washington Can Learn From These States -- Not a Bakken Story

NOTE: see next note. I had planned to discontinue this page for the reason cited. However, with the impending ObamaCliff in play, it will be interesting to see how it impacts jobs, so for now, the page continues. December 6, 2012.

NOTE: tentatively, the November 1, 2012, update will be the last update for "Job Watch." After the election, it is likely that the "job watch" will no longer interest me. But I could be wrong. Perhaps I will update periodically if news warrants updates.

Instead: go to the "Doomsday: The US Worker"
Also, check out daily job cuts


First time claims, unemployment benefits: 400,000 (> 400,000: economic stagnation)
New jobs: 200,000 (however, now I see that the goal posts have been moved to 120,000) --  
Economists estimate the labor market needs to create about 125,000 jobs a month to keep the unemployment rate steady, though estimates vary -- Reuters
As of August 2, 2012, two data points:
  • The unemployment rate is expected to have held steady at 8.2 percent in July. It has been stuck above 8 percent for more than two years, the longest run since the Great Depression.
  • The total number of people employed is 4.9 million lower than before the 2007-09 recession.

December 6, 2012: weekly -- 370,000; four-week moving average: 408,000. Gallup, unadjusted, unemployment takes huge jump; back to 8.3%; government figures: only 7.7%. Non-farm jobs added: 151,000. Remember: the magic number is 200,000. Wow, talk about "spin," this story suggesting Obama is creating more jobs than Bush. The delta: 460,000. At one trillion dollars in stimulus, that's $2.2 million/job. Well, that's good. And it should be noted that the recession was beginning under Bush; the economy has apparently "been recovering" under the Obama administration. Some recovery. WSJ: tepid job growth fuels worry.

December 5, 2012: new jobs being added -- going down; unemployment numbers -- going up

November 29, 2012: 393,000, down from revised 416,000 the week before; the report anticipates, but does not yet include the 18,500 employees who lost their Hostess/Twinkie jobs this past week; it is amazing how journalists see this drop as a good sign -- but 393,000! Remember, 400,000 is the magic number --> economic stagnation.  393,000 is nothing to get excited about. Foreshadowing the Great Recession of 2013.

November 25, 2012: deadline for long-term unemployed loom, WSJ.

November 21, 2012: the less-volatile four-week average has approached the magic number: 396,250.

November 15, 2012: post-Sandy, jobless claims soar to 439,000; the moving 4-week average increased to 383,750.

November 1, 2012: claims fall 9,000 but numbers estimated for DC and NJ due to storm; 

October 25, 2012: last week's number revised up to 392,000 -- remember, the magic number if 400,000. Hmmm.  And then a 23,000 drop this past week. The moving 4-week average UP to 368,000.

October 18, 2012: remember that "best number" last week. Smoke and mirrors. California phoned it in. Today we get the real numbers -- after the first two debates. Jobless claims takes biggest jump in months: jobless claims increased by 46,000 to 388,000. The median forecast was for 365,000. Wow.

October 11, 2012: best number in 4.5 years. Down to 339,000. Problem: no one believes it; one large state did not process / report data (the actual story is confusing).

October 4, 2012: claims rise less than expected; up 4,000 to 367,000!
September 27, 2012: huge drop; applications fell 26,000 to 359,000; lowest number since July, 2012; Labor official says tropical storm Isaac did not have material effect on the numbers; see September 13, 2012 report. Unrelated: Campbell Soup to close Sacramento plant; Comcast to close all northern California call centers, citing high cost.
September 20, 2012: no tropical storm this time to blame the increase in jobless claims; decreased less than expected; still at 382,000; previous week's figures raised up to 385,000.
September 13, 2012: stunningly high increase in jobless claims blamed on ... a tropical storm; rose 15,000! to 382,000. [Revised upward to 385,000 one week later.]
September 6, 2012: moving average inches upward.
August 30, 2012: trend worsens; last week's revised upward by 3,000; this month down to 365,000.
August 23, 2012: jobless claims rise; long-term trend worsens; Yahoo/Reuters see silver lining

August 17, 2012: unemployment rates rose in 44 states last month (July). Out of 57 50 states.
August 16, 2012: initial claims increase 2,000, to 366,000. Reuters says this suggests the economy is healing. WTF?
August 9, 2012: fell 6,000 to seasonally adjusted 361,000. Does anybody care any more?
August 3, 2012: unemployment rate rises to 8.3%. Forty-one (41) consecutive months with unemployment rate above 8 percent. The only thing that surprises me is that Ohio is still a toss-up between the President and Romney.
August 2, 2012: "The claims number is not that bad." The increase was less than expected.

July 20, 2012: From CarpeDiem, North Dakota leads nation in jobless rate, June: 2.9%.

July 18, 2012: Hope fades for long-term unemployed -- Hussein BO.

July 18, 2012: Obama's job council has not met in 6 months. They've either given up, or they are working on their own resumes pending the November election. Regardless, they have a fairly easy job to do and could solve the major "job problem" with one simple "recommendation": require all EPA regulations to be reviewed by the jobs council before posting the new regulations. And only if the Jobs Council concurs.

July 6, 2012: US jobs data for June, 2012 -- things are getting worse.

July 2, 2012: US manufacturing declines for first time in three years. Then this inane observation: "adding to signs that economic growth is weakening." Ya think."

June 22, 2012: Arch Coal idling 750 workers. Coal states that vote for the president for re-election are baking their own cake, as they say.  This coal analyst says the same thing and suggests that the Powder River Basin could become the next "Appalachia," not a pretty picture.

June 21, 2012: four-week moving average highest since December 3, 2011; Nokia to cut 10,000 (on top of previously announced 14,000)

June 10, 2012: long-term unemployed is a crisis or an emergency according to the New York Times. The story at the link describes a national tragedy. Ideology has resulted in worse recession recovery in history. The president is either beholden to a) socialist beliefs; b) beholden to those around him and has no beliefs of his own; c) truly thinks renewable energy will produce more jobs than the oil and gas industry; and/or d) is in over his head. The article at the link is very, very telling: it's a fairly long article and almost everyone and every government agency is mentioned except two: president, and Obama.

May 29, 2012: something tells me this will have an effect on unemployment numbers going forward.
Hundreds of thousands of out-of-work Americans are receiving their final unemployment checks sooner than they expected, even though Congress renewed extended benefits until the end of the year. 
Congress extended the benefits if states qualified, but made it more difficult for states to qualify.  The article states that since the extension, the jobless in 23 states have lost up to 5 months' worth of benefits.

May 25, 2012: highest rate of teenage joblessness in 20 years; hope and change; killing KXL1

May 23, 2012: H-P to lay off 26,000 workers

May 4, 2012: 115,000 jobs added; expectation - 168,000 jobs These are atrocious reports.

April 12, 2012: first time unemployment claims rise to highest level since January; Easter blamed. One would think that would have been factored in; again, analysts surprised; they had forecast a modest drop.

March 29, 2012: Best Buy to close 50 big box stores. I'm surprised "they" lasted this long. I've never understood the allure of high-priced inventory; high-pressure sales people. It was just a matter of time before their customers migrated to Amazon. And when you get right down to it, other than televisions, the only brand one needs is Apple; and Apple will soon be selling television software.

March 29, 2012: initial jobless claims fall less than expected; 359,000 vs expected 350,000.

February 9, 2012: Pepsico to cut 8,700 jobs.

January 19, 2012: nice headline but then reality sets in.

January 12, 2012: So much for the "good news" stories of the past week or so when folks thought employment picture improving.
The Labor Department said initial unemployment claims jumped to 399,000 in the first week of 2012, the highest in six weeks, from an upwardly revised 375,000 in the prior week. [Remember, the critical figure is 400,000, which may or may not be meaningful, but the number the mainstream media uses to assess whether things are improving or not.]

The four-week average of claims also marched higher to 381,750 from 374,000.

The U.S. unemployment rate has fallen sharply in recent months and was 8.5 percent December, but some economists worry the drop has been due in part to discouraged workers dropping out of the labor force.
And that's why the administration wants to increase the length of time for benefits; keep those folks from re-entering the job market when the benefits run out. 

December 27, 2011: Sears to close up to 120 stores; lousy sales results.

November 23, 2011: US Cranes, LLC, company policy -- "No hiring, until Obama is gone."  The company's CEO says they cannot afford to hire new employees under the Obama administration. 

November 18, 2011: Obama halts drilling in Ohio / Utica; at risk -- 200,000 jobs. Illinois unemployment rate edges up to 10.1 percent. 

November 17, 2011: Seven-month low; 388,000. The four-week average is 396,750, the first time this average dropped below 400,000 since April, 2011.

November 10, 2011: First-time jobless claims drop to 390,000 -- lowest since April.

November 4, 2011: Dismal report no matter how you spin it. Unemployment rate ticks down from 9.1 to 9 percent. As if.  The Labor Department says the economy added 80,000 jobs last month, the fewest in four months and below September's revised total of 158,000.

October 28, 2011: Maytag to cut 5,000.

October 27, 2011: Stuck in neutral.

October 17, 2011: While the president continues to talk about programs to generate new jobs, Lowe's announces it will close 20 stores and lay off 2,000 employees.

September 22, 2011:  Continued disappointing numbers; "surprising" analysts -- again. Only 55 percent of young Americans have jobs.

September 20, 2011: From The New York Times -- prepare for another round of huge layoffs -- USPS (120,000) and Bank of America (30,000). I didn't read the entire article, but at least George W. Bush was not mentioned in the first few paragraphs. Nor was President Obama for that matter.

September 16, 2011: Yup, the unemployment rate in Illinois jumped to 9.9 percent following loss of jobs in manufacturing sector and layoff of just under 3,000 state employees. Nationwide, unemployment remains steady at 9.1 percent.

September 06, 2011: Illinois to lay off thousands of state workers by end of the week.

September 04, 2011: California employment sinks to record low
The percentage of working-age Californians with jobs has fallen to a record low, and employment may not return to pre-recession levels until the second half of the decade, according to a research group.

Just 55.4 percent of working-age Californians, defined as those 16 or older, had a job in July, down from 56.2 percent a year earlier and the lowest level since 1976.
August 23, 2011: GE announces slashing 81 jobs in Wisconsin as part of its medical devices headquarters move to China.  GE/CEO is President Obama's economic czar.

August 23, 2011: Illinois lost more jobs than any other state in the union this past July. To do worse than California takes a lot of work, no pun intended.
llinois lost more jobs during the month of July than any other state in the nation, according to the most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics report. After losing 7,200 jobs in June, Illinois lost an additional 24,900 non-farm payroll jobs in July. The report also said Illinois’s unemployment rate climbed to 9.5 percent. This marks the third consecutive month of increases in the unemployment rate.

Illinois started to create jobs as the national economy began to recover. But just when Illinois’s economy seemed to be turning around, lawmakers passed record tax increases in January of this year. Since then, Illinois’s employment numbers have done nothing but decline.

Data released today by the bureau confirms this downward trajectory. When it comes to putting people back to work, Illinois is going backwards. Since January, Illinois has dropped 89,000 people from its employment rolls.
August 19, 2011: California's jobless rate jumps two-tenths of a percent, up to 12%. Open up drilling, and watch the jobless rate fall overnight.

August 14, 2011: NY Times headline --  "White House Debates Fight on Economy" -- for heaven's sake, quit with the speeches; enough of the policy papers; cut taxes, cut regulations, and embrace the natural resources this country has to offer.

August 12, 2011: USPS (postal service) getting ready to axe thousands of jobs; could be as many as 220,000 over four years. Certainly we are talking tens of thousands by the end of this year.

July 29, 2011: Boston-based Boston Scientific Corp is cutting US jobs and moving overseas (China). ObamaCare simply too taxing. 

July 29, 2011: GE is moving its health care device division to China. GE/CEO is President Obama's economic czar.

July 28, 2011: Businesses threatening to leave Chicago; tax base untenable.
CME Group Inc. is evaluating whether to move some operations to other states from Chicago to reduce its taxes, but it has not decided on an exact timeline, CEO Craig Donohue said Thursday.

"Our tax situation is untenable," Donohue told Reuters, noting that CME is taxed more heavily than any of its global competitors. The company is talking with at least three states -- Texas, Florida, and Tennessee -- about relocating some of its business to take advantage of lower tax rates there, Donohue said.
July 26, 2011: Nation's largest health care device maker moving its headquarters overseas. The nation's economic adviser is moving GE's health care unit headquarters to China. 

July 25, 2011: RIM (BlackBerry folks) announced 11 percent cut in workforce; not about the economy; all about Apple. First time this company has cut workforce in its history.

July 21, 2011: Analysts raise forecast for increased first time unemployment claims from 405,000 to 410,000, and it still was not enough.
First time claims rose to 418,000 --> 10,000 more than forecast. This is the 15th consecutive week where first time claims exceeded 400,000. NASA's space shuttle ends; screeching halt; thousands of jobs lost -- direct and indirect. Direct jobs said to be around 20,000, probably more. My hunch: total direct and indirect jobs lost to end of space shuttle program will exceed 50,000. You can bet that mainstream media will minimize NASA jobs lost. Reuters headline: "signs of struggle in jobs market." Well, duh. As long as we are piling on, Obama's legacy -- the withering American dream --
July 19, 2011: Steve Wynn (Wynn Resorts) has it right; Obama screwing up the economy; "redistribution" is Obama's mantra. Even Obama's pal Warren upset with talk about tax on corporate jets. Not to worry; Japan will make corporate jets if jobs move overseas.

July 18, 2011: US loses 17,200 jobs in one day -- Cisco axes 6,500; and Borders liquidates, costing another 17,500 direct jobs. 

July 11, 2011: Cisco may cut 5,000 jobs.

July 10, 2011: Another job killer in New Orleans -- the end of the space shuttle program. The end of this program will result in more jobs lost than were tained in June, 2011 (18,000 new jobs in June, 2011; projection of more than 30,000 jobs lost when space shuttle program ends).

July 8, 2011: Wow, wow, wow. Analysts expected 90,000 new jobs. Actual number: 18,000 new jobs. How can they be so far off? Revised figures for last month, down 44,000. Unemployment number actually increases slightly to 9.2 percent.  The president says he is ready to "roll up his sleeves." And do what? By the way, this horrendous job picture was predicted and is pretty much right on schedule. Analysts predicted a further loss of jobs once the stimulus money began to run out. The bulk of the stimulus money was used to "save" state government jobs, betting on a turnaround in the economy by the time the stimulus money began to run out. But that didn't happen, and now state and local governments are "bleeding" jobs -- Reuters' description, not mine. Good, bad, or indifferent, the loss in state and local government jobs is striking:
Local governments shed 18,000 jobs and state governments cut 7,000 in June. The level of local government employment -- 14.143 million employees -- is the lowest since June 2006. State government employment is the lowest since August 2006.

The National League of Cities, which represents civic officials, foresees further job cuts for at least the next 18 months. In a statement commenting on the Labor Department report, the group voiced concerns that continued public job losses will also dampen job growth in the private sector.

Cuts have been particularly deep in education. In June alone, local governments shed 12,600 education positions. Since last August, when concerns about mass layoffs at public schools spurred Congress to send states millions of dollars, local education has lost 124,300 jobs.
July 7, 2011: Mainstream headline writers try to spin story, but first-time jobless claims of 418,000 reported today is an awful number. Yes, the number dropped 11,000 from last week, but this is now the 13th straight week of greater than 400,000 first-time jobless claims.  "400,000" is a number generally associated with a "stable" labor market. "Stable" means no change; not only are we not keeping up with population growth, but there has been no progress made in restoring all those jobs lost during the recession.

July 4, 2011: White House admits -- its stimulus bill cost $278,000/job saved or created. Over the past six months, the economy would have added or saved more jobs without the “stimulus” than it has with it. 

June 30, 2011: 12 straight weeks that first time unemployment claims above 400,000. The number this week was 428,000 (last week, 429,000) while analysts forecast the number dropping to 420,000. Didn't happen.  The four-week moving average of unemployment claims, a better measure of underlying trends, nudged up 500 to 426,750. The number 400,000 is the widely agreed-upon number that above/below marks improving/worsening jobs picture.

June 23, 2011: Unemployment claims up to 429,000; higher than expected.

June 17, 2011: Unemployment picture worsens across the nation. Despite headline writer trying to obfuscate the true picture. 

June 3, 2011: Unemployment edges up to 9.1%. Horrendous job report. Horrendous.

May 6, 2011: Unemployment back up to 9.0%.

April 28, 2011: After weeks of talking about "better" unemployment news, the CNBC noted that today's increase in unemployment claims to 429,000 is now the third week or so of increasing claims.  For newbies, "400,000" is the number to watch: higher than that, and unemployment is increasing, below that, employment is not improving. 

February 17, 2011: Unemployment benefits jump to 410,000. It is interesting to see that extending unemployment benefits out to 99 weeks has had the intended consequences.

January 21, 2011: Under pressure to energize the economy, President Barack Obama will put job creation and American competitiveness at the center of his State of the Union address, promoting spending on education and research while pledging to trim the nation's soaring debt.
Tracking The Progress 
June 3, 2011: the bar has been lowered.

January 31, 2011: New jobs so far mostly low-paying.

January 24, 2011: JC Penney to end its catalogue operations, close at least six stores and two call centers.

January 23, 2011: More jobs, but not if related to new refineries. No new refineries if the President  has anything to say about it

January 21, 2011: On same day that President Obama announces his new focus on jobs, Boeing announces 1,000 job cuts.  Obama announces that his new economic adviser will be the head of General Electric: expect to see more wind turbine subsidies.
Original Post
January 21, 2011

President Obama will focus on jobs this year, he says, as the 2012 election approaches.

He might want to talk to Senator Al Franken (D) from Minnesota to find out what's happening out in the trenches.

For one thing, a very well-respected company and, should we say, an icon of Minnesota has recently expanded, building three new plants on the North Dakota side of the border.
Warroad-based Marvin Windows and Doors has opened North Dakota plants in Fargo, West Fargo and Grafton.
Marvin’s John Kirchner explained why the firm expanded to North Dakota in the last several years: “The regulatory and tax climate in North Dakota ... tend to be more friendly toward the business."
Also, Kirchner said, it takes too long to get state permits, delaying expansion plans.
While pledging that “we are not going to walk away from Minnesota” and saying Warroad will remain Marvin’s home and biggest factory, North Dakota is a good location for company manufacturing plants, he said. 
Wow, wow, and wow.
  • Regulatory climate.
  • Tax climate.
  • Too long to get state permits.
Wow, wow, and wow.

If I didn't know better, that sounds like Washington and the federal government.

If President Obama wants to keep jobs in the US from moving overseas he should note that it is not just the corporate taxes everyone seems to talk about.  And it's not just just the regulatory climate. But it's also the phenomenal delay to get anything done, generally due to a) bureaucratic inefficiencies; and, b) legal delays on minor or technical issues.

How long can it take? Well, just to get the environmental impact statement completed can take five years. Not five months, not even a year. But five years.


  1. what he didn't say about north dakota:


  2. There is a move in the Minnesota legislature to change that:

  3. is a link to a jobs fair web site in Rapid City SD which will hold a fair on March 7, 2012. I was surprised to see no employers from the WB looking for employees. I would think the Black Hills area would be a potential resource for companies looking for workers in the WB.

    1. If the site included a list of employers I did not see it. I didn't search the whole site quickly; involved with NASCAR race.