Is Corporate America Now Hiring?

As the sine qua non of recovery, the uptick in job creation reflected by the employment increase of 162,000 in March was widely greeted with optimism.

April 5, 2010
By Dees Stribling, Contributing Editor

Courtesy Flickr Creative Commons user Banalities

As the sine qua non of recovery, the uptick in job creation reflected by the employment increase of 162,000 in March was widely greeted with optimism. Considering that in March 2009, employers jettisoned some 663,000 employees — one of a very bad string of months about a year ago — there’s some grounds for optimism. Still, some 48,000 of those new jobs are temporary ones with the U.S. Census Bureau, and the entire increase isn’t actually enough to budge the unemployment rate, or the underemployment numbers.

Remarkably, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in construction held steady in March, after losing an average of 72,000 jobs per month in the prior 12 months. Other real estate-related job categories, such as transportation and warehousing; leisure and hospitality; and retail trade were also unchanged.

On the other hand, jobs that use a lot of office space didn’t fare so well in March. Financial activities shed 21,000 jobs, with the largest losses occurring in insurance carriers and related activities, down 9,000 positions. Employment in the information industry decreased by 12,000 jobs.

HUD Eases Rules For Public Purchases of Bum Real Estate

Cities, counties and states will have an easier time of buying residential properties in default, as well as uninhabitable homes with code violations, under a change of rules issued Friday by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The purchases will be through the $4 billion Neighborhood Stabilization Program, which had gotten off to a slow start.

According to officials involved in trying to buy properties with the program’s grant money, the rules for doing so weren’t altogether clear. All-cash buyers have been able to outbid cities, counties and states in many cases because of the hesitation inspired by the unclear rules. The new rules are effective immediately.

“It became clear to us that the Neighborhood Stabilization Program as originally designed was too restrictive and limited the ability of our local partners to put this funding to work quickly,” Mercedes Marquez, HUD’s assistant secretary for community planning and development, noted in a statement. “We need to be more flexible so our local partners can respond to market conditions.”

Wall Street was idle for the Good Friday holiday on Friday. However, the elevator to the 124th-floor observation deck of the world’s new tallest skyscraper, the half-mile-high Burj Khalifa in Dubai, was moving again over the weekend. In February, the elevator got stuck for the better part of an hour, stranding visitors between floors. The deck was closed afterwards. No official explanation for the stoppage has been ventured as yet.