News Day: MN unemployment up to 8.2 percent / Foreclosures dip / Preventing the NEXT economic meltdown – or not / more

Illustration of a graph where the figures go through the roofMN unemployment up to 8.2 percent Minnesota’s unemployment rate rose to 8.2 percent in May, up from 8.0 percent in April but still below the national rate of 9.4%, according to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. DEED’s press release this morning led with the announcement that MN employers had cut only 1,600 jobs in May, the smallest number since October. Total job losses in May were more than 10,000, but that number was offset by some job gains, including 7,100 in the leisure and hospitality industries and 900 in construction.

Nationally, there are enough new numbers on unemployment to support plenty of conclusions. Here are some of the current numbers, from the Department of Labor and AP:

• New unemployment claims rose slightly last week, to a seasonally adjusted 608,000.
• Unemployment – which is reported monthly, not weekly – remains at 25-year high of 9.4%.
• Businesses eliminated 345,000 jobs in May – a figure also reported monthly.
• The total number of people receiving unemployment compensation (which is a lot lower than the total number of unemployed workers) fell slightly, for the first time in 19 weeks. The number dropped 148,000 to 6.69 million in the week ending June 6.
• But wait – the 6.69 figure includes only people on the regular, 26-week unemployment comp rolls. Another 2.36 million have run out of regular benefits and are on emergency supplemental benefits. And beyond that, millions are receiving no unemployment comp at all.

Home foreclosures dip in MN MPR reports that home foreclosures fell slightly in the first quarter of 2009, compared to the first quarter of 2008. But that may not be a meaningful change, because many lending institutions put a freeze on foreclosures for the first few months of the year. Now the freeze is over, and foreclosures will probably go back up. Is the pace of foreclosure slowing? Or is this a temporary blip? Nobody knows for sure, but with 5,200 foreclosures in the state during the first three months, there’s still plenty of pain going around.

Catching up on court cases The lawsuit against 3M for PFC pollution? The Strib reports that th jury said no to the plaintiffs, so 3M walks away. Since this case went nowhere, the likelihood of any other litigation is low. The company has spent $15 million on cleanups so far, and could spend as much as another $50 million, so it’s not exactly getting a free pass.

The jury should get the case today, in the retrial of a Minnesota woman who allegedly engaged in illegal sharing of copyrighted music, reports AP.

World/National News

Preventing the NEXT economic meltdown – or not The Obama administration is rolling out its regulatory reform proposals, and the verdict is that they are underwhelming. That’s alarming, because regulatory failure allowed the financial and banking crimes that caused the current recession/depression. Except that there were no crimes – because laws, regulation and enforcement, from anti-trust to Glass-Steagall had been rolled back or repealed by Republican and Democratic administrations willing to do anything that business asked.

After the 1929 stock market crash and the ensuing Great Depression, the government established the Securities and Exchange Commission to regulate the stock market, the FDIC to insure bank deposits and regulate the banking industry, and the Glass-Steagall act to separate commercial banks and investment banking.

In recent years, many government regulations have been eased or eliminated — not only on financial institutions but also on airlines, telephone services, broadcasters, and more. The 1999 gutting of the New Deal-era Glass-Steagall regulation of the banking industry is a commonly-cited example. The Commodities Futures Modernization Act of 2000 is another: it essentially removed federal regulation of derivatives and credit default swaps and pre-empted state regulation at the same time.

You’d think that the current meltdown provided enough warning to inspire new regulatory zeal. Not so. For perspectives on the watered-down reform plan, here and here. If you haven’t bookmarked
Baseline Scenario
yet, it’s worth doing so – they offer smart, clear analysis. For a much more optimistic spin, go to the Washington Post.

Iran Protests continue in Iran, as opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi calls for a day of mourning for the eight people killed after Monday’s protests, and for the release of jailed opposition politicians and journalists, reports BBC. On Wednesday, an estimated 50-70,000 protesters marched silently through downtown Tehran. The Guardian Council scheduled an extraordinary session for Saturday and invited candidates to to take part in the session.

War Reports

Somalia Somalia’s Security Minister Omar Hashi Aden was among ten people killed in a bomb attack north of the capitalat a hotel in Beledweyne, reports BBC. Ten more people were killed in a separate bomb attack on a mosque in Mogadishu.

Pakistan A U.S. airstrike in South Waziristan killed nine people, reports BBC. The strike targeted a house in a village near the Afghan border, and Taliban militants were reportedly among the dead.

The New York Times reports on the plight of an estimated three million internal refugees from the current fighting inside Pakistan. While the UN is aiding refugees living in camps, most are outside the camps:

All of this puts the burden on their host families, who, according to a survey conducted by Save the Children, have taken in more than two families each. (The average family size is 10.)

It is a colossal act of charity. The survey found that only a third of refugees were living with relatives. The rest were staying with friends and even strangers.

India? Government paramilitary troops were headed for a part of West Bengal taken over by Maoist rebels, reports BBC. Ten communist party workers are dead, apparently killed by the rebels.

The tribespeople-dominated Lalgarh area in West Bengal’s West Midnapore district has been under the virtual control of the Maoist rebels since last November.

Over the past few days, villagers backed by the rebels have taken over more villages in the area and burnt down and demolished offices belonging to the ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist), or CPI(M).

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One response to “News Day: MN unemployment up to 8.2 percent / Foreclosures dip / Preventing the NEXT economic meltdown – or not / more

  1. Pingback: News Day: Reading the job numbers – carefully / Slash and burn the cities / Eviction, filesharing / Get out of town « Mary Turck

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