Friday, June 5, 2009

Cheering the unemployment news

The unemployment rate is now at its highest point since July, 1983, surging from 8.9 percent in April to 9.4 percent in May. But a "glass-half-full" government report says the 345,000 jobs lost last month were the fewest since September and was far less than forecast.
But it was both a surge in new labor force entrants and a drop in employment that pushed the jobless rate up a half-percentage point. The May report showed a jump of 350,00 in the labor force. In April, the increase was just 120,000.
The good news, apparently, is that economists contacted by Briefing.com expected May's job losses to hit 520,000. They also expected the unemployment rate to reach 9.2 percent. So, even though the 9.4 percent jobless rate is 0.2 percent higher than expected, we can cheer the data for May.

And accompanying this pleasant surprise is the not-unexpected reaction of the dollar:
The dollar index (DXY 80.53, +1.12, +1.41%) , which measures the performance of the greenback against a basket of currencies, rose to 80.520, up 1.3% from 79.446 in North American trade Thursday afternoon.
Meanwhile, the DOW turned positive for the year and hated Wal-Mart had this announcement:
Wal-Mart surprised investors Friday at its annual meeting, announcing that it authorized a new program to buy back $15 billion of its shares, replacing a similar program from June 2007 that had only $3.4 billion of remaining authorization. This comes a day after the world's biggest retailer said it would hire 22,000 new employees.

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