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Latest Jobs Reports Suggest Growth In Economy

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WASHINGTON (5/6/13)--The U.S. economy added an estimated 165,000 jobs in April, the Labor Department said Friday.

That job growth, along with a national unemployment rate of 7.5%--a four-year low--suggests steady but measured economic growth, and indicates employers are upbeat about the economic outlook amid federal budget cuts (The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and Bloomberg.com May 3).

April's payroll gain follows an upwardly revised 138,000 in March, an increase from an initial estimate of 88,000, according to Labor Department figures.   

The economic recovery's erosion has been greatly exaggerated, Eric Green, global head of Research at TD Securities Inc. in New York, told Bloomberg. The job market is not imploding and is in better condition than generally thought, although it is in a soft spot, he added.

However, many new jobs were in lower-paying sectors such as food services and retail. Restaurants added 38,000 employees in April, and retail stores added 30,000 workers, Steve Blitz, chief economist at ITG, told the Times

Although the current hiring is good, the economy is not generating high-income jobs, Blitz added.

Retirees' Pension Advances Have High Rates

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NEW YORK (5/6/12)--Some companies targeting retirees with  pension advance offers are getting scrutiny from regulators because the companies charge steep interest rates, they aren't disclosing their fees in their ads or contracts,  and their operations fall outside state and federal banking regulations, according to The New York Times (April 27).

The Times conducted a study of more than two dozen pension-based loan contracts and found that after factoring in fees, the interest rates on these loans ranged from 27% to 106%. To qualify for the loan, the borrowers were sometimes required to take out an insurance policy naming the lender as the sole beneficiary.

The companies are courting retirees with public pensions--such as military veterans, police officers, firefighters and teacher--and offering to make short-term loans. They advertise through online and local newspaper ads, and circulars. 

Legal aid offices in several states--Arizona, California, Florida and New York--said they've received a surge in complaints. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Senate's Committee on Health, Education Labor and Pensions are examining the loans, said the Times.