First time claims for unemployment spiked last week. As Bloomberg reports:
Jobless claims climbed by 15,000 to 297,000 in the week ended July 4, a Labor Department report showed today in Washington. The median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg projected claims of 275,000.
Parades, fireworks, patriotic songs, 150 million hot dogs consumed, 41 million car trips of more than 50 miles -- and heightened security in reaction to Islamist terrorist threats to disrupt our celebration with murder and mayhem as part of their celebration of their holy month of Ramadan. That’s all part of the celebration of our independence from Britain, which at that time specialized in governing us by executive fiat.
One reads of the crisis in Greece. And the one much closer to home in Puerto Rico. The crisis, that is, that inevitably comes after spending too much and taking on more debt than it is possible even to service, much less pay down. One thinks of how unfortunate it is for the people who will now redeem with pain, the promises made by the politicians of previous generations.
We have been hearing, for so long now, that the end is nigh in the crisis of the Greek economy that it is hard to take another such warning seriously. The problem of Greece, like so many others, seems to have no end, no resolution and, even, no point. Unless, that is, you are a citizen of Greece. Then it is your life.
On Friday we learned that the U.S. economy surprised on the upside by adding 280,000 new jobs in May, and that 32,000 more jobs had been created in March and April than originally reported. The fact that economic growth is still sluggish, while more and more workers are finding jobs, suggests that productivity -- output per man-hour -- is slowing.
The latest jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the unemployment rate ticking up to 5.5 percent and that the economy added 280,000 jobs:
Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 280,000 in May, and the unemployment rate was essentially unchanged at 5.5 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Job gains occurred in professional and business services, leisure and hospitality, and health care. Mining employment continued to decline.
That negative 1st quarter GDP has been widely passed off as the effect of a particularly severe winter. Things, we were assured, were not that bad and would be getting better as the weather warmed. Well, not so fast. The Commerce Department came out this morning with a report on factory orders that was supposed to be in positive territory.
There is an important difference between European and American appetites, in addition to those for fast foods: risk taking. “Investments in Start-Ups Pick Up Pace,” reports the New York Times after surveying the high-tech financing scene here in America. “Europe Struggles to Foster a Startup Culture,” reports the Wall Street Journal. It seems that in contrast with “multiple rounds of fund-raising [in the U.S.] in months, rather than years,” Europeans are “valuing prudence … and leisure time over flamboyant risk-taking.”