Posted tagged ‘Furlough’

Retail Sales in the US…Rise?

February 12, 2009

U.S. retail sales jumped 1 percent in January, reversing a six-month declining trend and defying economists’ expectations by posting the biggest increase in 14 months.

From the Associated Press:

The data are a glimmer of hope for a recession-hit economy, but higher gasoline prices and sales, and buyers snapping up other items on post-holiday discounts, appeared to aid last month’s results. Analysts cautioned that the relief is unlikely to last.

The Commerce Department reported Thursday that January retail sales rose 1 percent from December after having fallen for six straight months. Wall Street economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters had expected January sales to show a drop of 0.8 percent. They plunged a revised lower 3 percent in December, which marked the weakest holiday selling season since at least 1969.

“This is a big surprise, though the net rise in sales is less impressive than it looks because (December and November) were revised down by 0.3 percent each,” Ian Shepherdson, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics, wrote in a research note. “The headline relief today is welcome but it is unlikely to last.”

The January report shows strong increases in sales of automobiles and in general merchandise stores — the “big box” outlets — though sales by department stores, carrying fewer varieties of items, posted a decline. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world’s largest retailer, is an example of a discounter that has benefited from strapped consumers’ focus on necessities like groceries and on bargains for other items.

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Furlough Friday Begins in California

February 6, 2009

California’s first-ever furloughs began today with more than 200,000 state workers staying home without pay amid the state’s fiscal crisis.

From the Associated Press:

Among the offices forced to close Friday were the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Department of Consumer Affairs. The governor’s Office of Emergency Services also was dark as part of the cash-saving move ordered by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Critical and revenue-generating agencies remained open, including fire stations, parks and employment centers that process unemployment insurance claims. California’s unemployment rate is 9.3 percent, a 15-year high.

At the state Department of Transportation, a handful of engineers showed up to work without pay because they didn’t want to get behind on projects they said were important to public safety.

Stan Slavin, an electrical engineer working on a traffic project in the San Francisco Bay area, said his partners at local agencies will be on the job so he was, too.

State agencies scrambled in the days before the furloughs took effect to avoid confusion for the public, such as people trying to register vehicles or obtain professional licenses.