Archive for June 4th, 2010

04
Jun
10

Job creation is still Photo ‘Bleak’

NEWS
Job creation is still Photo ‘Bleak’

Friday, June 4, 2010

U.S. job creation by private companies grew at the slowest pace of the year in May, even while the hiring of temporary census workers drove overall payrolls up 431,000.

The unemployment rate dipped to 9.7 percent as many people gave up searching for work.

The Labor Department’s new employment snapshot released on Friday suggested that outside of the burst of hiring of temporary census workers by the federal government many private employers are wary of bulking up their work forces.

That indicates the economic recovery may not bring relief fast enough for millions of Americans who are unemployed.

Virtually all the job creation in May came from the hiring of 411,000 census workers.

Such hiring peaked in May and will begin tailing off in June.

By contrast, hiring by private employers, the backbone of the economy, slowed sharply.

They added just 41,000 jobs, down from 218,000 in April and the fewest since January.

‘Although the economic outlook is improving, the recovery is still pretty tepid,’ said Paul Ashworth, senior U.S. economist at Capital Economics.

President Barack Obama acknowledged that temporary census jobs drove the overall payroll gain. But he said private sector hiring is growing.

He noted five straight months of job gains after devastating losses from the recession.

He said the recovery is still in its early stages, and that it will be uneven in the months ahead.

‘Things never go completely in a smooth line,’ Obama said during a speech on Friday.

‘This report is a sign that our economy is getting stronger by the day.’

However, Wall Street took the report as a disappointing setback.

Many investors had grown optimistic in recent days that the economy was gaining strength and that would be reflected in the May employment data.

They hoped a strong U.S. jobs report would put aside some concerns that Europe’s debt crisis could upset the U.S. recovery.

The weak private-hiring data sent a reminder that economic obstacles at home and abroad remain.

The Dow Jones industrial average tumbled about 180 points, or 1.8 percent, in mid-morning trading.

As stock prices sink, consumers may become more reluctant to spend more.

And if consumer spending falters, employers could become even more reluctant to ramp up hiring.

The unemployment rate, which is derived from a separate survey than the payroll figures, fell to 9.7 percent from 9.9 percent.

The dip partly reflected 322,000 people leaving the labour force for a variety of reasons.

All told, 15 million people were unemployed in May.

Counting people who have given up looking for work and part-timers who would rather be working full time, the ‘underemployment’ rate fell to 16.6 percent in May from 17.1 percent in April.

That reflected fewer people forced into part-time work.

Still, the high underemployment figure shows how difficult it is for jobseekers to find work.

The number of people out of work six months or longer reached 6.76 million in May, a new high.

They made up 46 percent of all unemployed people, also a record high.

Employers across a range of industries last month added jobs at a slower pace – or cut them.

Factories, professional and business services, leisure and hospitality companies, and education and health care firms all slowed hiring.

Financial services, construction companies and retailers all pared jobs.

Government, however, led the way in hiring, adding a whopping 390,000 positions last month.

Job gains in April were the same as first reported, while payrolls in March were slightly less – 208,000 versus 230,000.
» Related: President Obama on the May Jobs Numbers
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04
Jun
10

BP caps one of leaks from rig

NEWS
BP caps one of leaks from rig

Friday, June 4, 2010

Earth

••• In the first breakthrough in its labourious bid to curb the worst U.S. spill in history, BP says a cap placed on a ruptured pipe is working and should capture most of the oil.

The news came on Friday as U.S. President Barack Obama was heading back to the stricken Gulf of Mexico region for his third visit since an explosion tore through the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon rig more than six weeks ago.

Remote-controlled submarines grappled the cap into place over a sawn-off riser pipe nearly 1.6km below the surface late on Thursday, in the latest of several attempts to contain the oil belching into the Gulf.

Admiral Thad Allen, the official in charge of the U.S. government response to the spill, said the upside-down funnel-like container was already collecting about 1,000 barrels a day of oil.

But he cautioned this was a rough estimate.

‘Production is slowly moving up. It’s around 1,000 barrels a day right now,’ said Allen.

A live video feed showed clouds of oil still gushing from the pipe, making it hard to determine how much progress was being made.

Government scientists have estimated that 12,000 to 19,000 barrels a day are pouring from the pipe.

‘I’m pretty confident this is going to work,’ said BP chief operating officer Doug Suttles, speaking on ABC.

‘It probably won’t capture all of the flow. But it should capture the vast majority.’

The containment device has four vent valves on the top to prevent the formation of hydrates, which doomed an earlier attempt at containing the flow.

Workers are ‘slowly closing the vents and increasing the flow of oil,’ Allen said.

BP on Thursday sliced off the fractured well pipe with a pair of giant shears after a diamond-blade saw got stuck. But they left a jagged edge, meaning the cap will be a looser fit than had been hoped.

Obama meanwhile is set to return to the Gulf Coast, amid mounting anger at the disaster with at least 20 million gallons of crude spewing into the sea since the drilling rig exploded on April 20, killing 11 workers.

The scale of the disaster forced Obama to postpone a trip to Australia and Indonesia for the second time in a clear sign that the catastrophe is forcing changes in the president’s crowded political agenda.

Shocking images of pelicans and seabirds writhing in oil along the Louisiana coast broadcast on U.S. television networks and splashed on the front pages of newspapers underscored the rising environmental costs.

Some 60 birds were on Thursday found to have been coated with oil when the leak hit the Queen Bess Island Rookery.

Of the affected birds, 41 were pelicans, Louisiana’s state bird, US officials said.

BP chief executive Tony Hayward warned in a call with investors that the cost of the spill would be ‘severe,’ but would not estimate the final price tag.

Obama has been increasingly criticised for appearing disengaged from the public outrage and showing no emotion at BP’s repeated failure to stem the leak.

‘I would love to just spend a lot of my time venting and yelling at people, but that is not what I was hired to do – my job is to solve this problem,’ Obama told CNN on Thursday, adding he was ‘furious at this entire situation’.

But he acknowledged the response from BP had not been as much as he would have liked.

‘What I haven’t seen as much as I’d like is the kind of rapid response’ on BP’s part, he said.

Spreading in oily ribbons, the slick is now threatening Alabama, Mississippi and Florida after contaminating more than 125 miles of Louisiana coastline.
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