Economy Watch: Another Positive Employment Index

Everyone's U.S. employment index is looking up these days.

May 11, 2010
By Dees Stribling, Contributing Editor

Courtesy Flickr Creative Commons user totalAldo

Everyone’s U.S. employment index is looking up these days. On Monday the Conference Board said that its Employment Trends Index now stands at 94.7, up from March’s revised figure of 93.9. The index is up 7.1 percent from a year ago.

The organization is predicting so-so job growth in the months ahead, however. “Going forward, we do not expect job growth to accelerate much beyond this month’s rate, as the overall increase in economic activity is likely to moderate during the second half of 2010,” said Gad Levanon, associate director, macroeconomic research at the Conference Board, in a statement.

The Employment Trends Index aggregates eight labor-market indicators. This month’s increase was driven by positive contributions from six out of the eight components. The improving indicators were: Percentage of Respondents Who Say They Find “Jobs Hard to Get,” Percentage of Firms with Jobs Not Able to Fill Right Now, Number of Temporary Employees, Job Openings, Industrial Production and Real Manufacturing and Trade Sales.

Fannie Mae Hits Up Feds Again

About a week after Freddie Mac came to the federal government, hat in hand, its big sister GSE was knocking on the door too. After its first quarter 2010 loss of $11.5 billion, Fannie Mae asked for $8.4 billion.

Since this time last year, Fannie Mae has received about $84.6 billion from the government; together with Freddie Mac, the GSEs have received about $127 billion. Just for the sake of comparison, the Greeks will be receiving about $145 billion from the EU and the IMF for their bailout.

Various members of Congress are now grumbling that something should be done about the GSEs and their money-sucking ways, but there’s little agreement about what to do, especially ahead of mid-term elections. Rep. Scott Garrett (R.-NJ) told Bloomberg on Monday that he sees “absolutely nothing happening in the area of GSEs” before the end of 2010.

Euro-Optimism on Wall Street

Call it the euro-bounce, or maybe euro-euphoria, on Wall Street on Monday. The Street seemed pleased at the prospect of quarantining the Greek contagion with a trillion-dollar fence, and investors were just as eager to buy as they had been to sell late last week.

Just another example of rational investing, or of the lemming effect? A reasonable rebound, considering the force with which the EU seemed to deal with the Greek contagion, or merely another upswing inspired by wishful thinking? Any of these descriptions could be true, but no one will know for sure until a few more trading days are past.

In any case, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained a whopping 404.71 points, or 3.9 percent, on Monday. The S&P 500 did even better with a 4.4 percent, and the Nasdaq recorded a blockbuster gain of 4.81 percent.