Thursday, December 17, 2009

NNY Unemployment

Good job by the local media covering both the year over year increase in unemployment as well as the sequential increase. The good news is that unemployment locally is still below the national average, although slightly above the state average. I found this data from the Labor Department interesting...

"Since November 2008, the number of nonfarm jobs (private plus public sectors) in New York State decreased by 211,600, or 2.4 percent, and the number of private sector jobs decreased by 194,800 or 2.7 percent.

Sector with Job Gain:
Educational & Health Services +41,300

Sectors with Job Losses:
Trade, Transportation & Utilities -51,900
Manufacturing -42,600
Professional & Business Services -41,800
Construction -36,000
Financial Activities -30,600

I'd be very interested in seeing how an area with a high concentration of government related employment (perhaps the counties surrounding Ft. Bragg, Ft. Hood, Edwards Air Force Base, etc) weathered the last major economic tsunami in 1982. I suspect that the regions would have lagged the recovery in the private sector but the mid-80s also saw a meaningful increase in defense spending that might skew the data.

My point is that when the private sector ultimately rebounds in the US, the Federal and NYS government could lag by 2 to 3 budget cycles so hiring (post-stimulus 2.0, 3.0, etc) and that could impact our local unemployment picture. Given the relatively small population in NNY a change of just 500 jobs will move our unemployment rate by over 1 full percentage point (ie, lose 1,000 jobs and our unemployment rate jumps to 10.8% in Jefferson County).

There should be a pretty good tug of war tomorrow in the markets. The dollar strength is whacking the market, but surprising strength from Research in Motion (maker of Blackberry) should help tech stocks. I'll be interested in hearing more about how Blackberry is seeing higher demand in the face of droid, iPhone, google phone, etc.

On another market related topic, note that Citigroup accounted for almost HALF of all NYSE volume today. That's not a sign of a healthy market. It's also a sign that someone is dumping large volume of Citi and someone is defending the stock by buying every dip. It should be interesting to watch this battle unfold.

It's some pretty clever marketing from the boys and girls at TimeWarner with their "Roll over or get tough" campaign. The cable company implies that some of the networks are asking for a 300% hike in their fees. However, they don't identify which networks are requesting hikes this high. The rumored networks include E!, HGTV, Fox, etc., but I haven't seen a good list of who is requesting a higher fee.

The clever part is the marketing from TimeWarner. If TimeWarner keeps all of your channels as they are today, expect a meaningful hike in cable rates soon and TimeWarner will come off looking like the good guy because they've planted the phrase "300% hike" in your head. Maybe they'll increase rates 8% and while many will complain, the standard response will be "some of our costs went up 300% and we're only passing a portion of that cost on to you!". Again, it's probably some no name network that charged $1 last year asking for $4 this year, but the 300% figure will prove to be a marketing win for TimeWarner.

I love my $8/mth cable :)


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