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Jon Talton

Analysis and commentary on economic news, trends and issues, with an emphasis on Seattle and the Northwest.

May 6, 2009 at 9:17 AM

Jobs report might indicate a bottom, if not a recovery

Top of the News: A potentially very good sign for the economy comes with a report from ADP Employer Services that the U.S. lost “only” 491,000 jobs last month. Such numbers would be sobering in a normal recession. In this one, they’re cause for cautious optimism. In March, the economy lost a revised 708,000.

The official Labor Department unemployment report comes out Friday, but the ADP soundings have generally been in line with the government. While the April number still points to 491,000 individual catastrophies, it was lower than expected. And, if it signals a new trend, it would mean the scary drop in jobs over the past few months might be easing.

That’s a long way from recovery — and recent recessions have seen long rebound times for hiring to resume. Still, if the job loss lower number is echoed Friday, it’s cause for relief. Some other potential signs of a bottom, locally and globally: King County house sales get a bounce; oil prices hit a 2009 high of $56 a barrel; global manufacturing seems to be contracting less severely, and other commodities are stabilizing.

Midweek bits: The Center for Public Integrity has released its report on “Who’s Behind the Financial Meltdown,” and local pride may be hurt. The top 25 lenders responsible for subprime loans doesn’t include Washington Mutual. I want a recount!

–Speaking of subprime, Bloomberg has an interesting take on affluent buyers finding their own subprime-like trap as foreclosures rise for jumbo loans.

–Save the date: Seattle Pacific University is holding a two-day event on microfinance, the tool that has been effective in aiding Third World entrepreneurs, on Friday and Saturday. For information, www.spu.edu/microfinance

Financial Times has a fascinating piece on the link between tax havens and complex speculation that caused the current unpleasantness. Worth a look.

Today’s Econ Haiku:

Google ‘board members’

The feds found the search troubling

When Apple popped up

Comments | More in Jobs/Unemployment, Washington Mutual

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