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January 29th, 2009
11:38 AM ET

Financial Dispatch: Nearly 4.8 million on unemployment

People buying Girl Scout cookies like these on their Web site this year can expect fewer cookies in the packages.

People buying Girl Scout cookies like these on their Web site this year can expect fewer cookies in the packages.

Andrew Torgan
CNN Financial News Producer

The number of people receiving unemployment benefits is at an all-time record high as layoffs spread throughout the economy. The Labor Department says the number of Americans continuing to claim unemployment insurance for the week ending Jan. 17 was a seasonally adjusted 4.78 million, the highest on records dating back to 1967.

Meanwhile, the number of Americans filing first-time claims for jobless benefits rose for the third consecutive week - by 3,000 to 588,000 - for the week ended Jan. 24.

And the parade of layoffs continues… Eastman Kodak says it will cut 2,000 to 3,000 more jobs in 2009, bringing to 3,500 to 4,500 the number of positions it will eliminate this year. That’s 14% to 18% of Kodak’s workforce.

Ford’s finance unit will eliminate 20 percent of its workforce, or about 1,200 jobs. Oshkosh, the Wisconsin-based builder of fire engines, dump trucks and military vehicles, announced 1,050 new job cuts in addition to the more than 1,300 announced last year.

Starbucks late Wednesday said it’s cutting 6,700 additional jobs and closing another 300 stores as a weak economy weighed on sales. And electronics parts maker Jabil Circuit plans to eliminate approximately 3,000 jobs.

Ford Motor says its ongoing losses soared in the fourth quarter, but the company maintains it still does not need any of the federal bailout money already received by rivals Chrysler and GM.

Ford reported a net loss of $5.9 billion, up from a loss of $2.8 billion in the same quarter a year ago. For the full year, Ford lost $14.6 billion, and the company has now lost nearly $30 billion over the past three years.

Orders to factories for big-ticket manufactured goods have fallen for the fifth straight month in December, closing out a dismal year in which demand dropped by the largest amount since the recession year of 2001. Durable goods orders dropped 2.6% in December. And for the year, the government says orders fell 5.7 percent, the second biggest drop on record, exceeded only by a 10.7 percent plunge in 2001.

Sales of newly constructed homes plunged in December to the lowest level on records going back to 1963. New home sales fell to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 331,000 in December. That's down nearly 15% from a revised annual rate of 388,000 in November. December’s sales pace was also nearly 45% below the same month one year ago.

Gas prices rose 1-tenth of a cent overnight at $1.843 a gallon. 4 states have regular unleaded gas prices of $2 and higher. The highest gas prices are in Alaska ($2.512). 46 states and the District of Columbia have regular unleaded gas prices below $2. The cheapest gas prices are in Wyoming ($1.517)

Finally, eating an entire box of Girl Scout Cookies in a single sitting will be a little bit easier this year. The Girl Scouts of the USA confirm they've reduced the number of cookies per box because of rising transportation and baking costs.

Michelle Tompkins, a national Girl Scout spokeswoman, said that "the cost of baking a cookie today is significantly higher than it was even a year ago, and our bakers cannot continue to absorb these rising costs." She also said transportation costs have increased 30% to 40% from a year ago.

That means there will be two to four fewer cookies in boxes of Thin Mints, Peanut Butter Sandwiches, Shortbread Cookies, DoSiDos, and Trefoils, Tompkins said.

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Filed under: Andrew Torgan • Economy • Finance • Gas Prices • Oil • Wall St.
soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. Sheila

    Catapiller is laying off in Peoria. but aren't they opening a new facility in San Antonio???? sounds fishy....

    January 29, 2009 at 9:24 pm |
  2. jarrod

    who makes the pink slips?........I need a job seems to be booming!

    January 29, 2009 at 8:40 pm |
  3. Annie Kate

    Girl Scout cookies were getting expensive anyway – about 3 dollars a box and I can remember a time when they were 35 cents a box and it wasn't that long ago! I hate to say it but cutting back on these cookies isn't a bad idea especially for our waistlines. If you are only buying the cookies to support the Girl Scouts, give a donation instead – the Scouts get all of a donation while they only get something like 35 cents a box on a 3.00 box of cookies.

    The jobs news just gets worse. Are we generating any new jobs at all right now or are we only generating pink slips?

    January 29, 2009 at 8:31 pm |
  4. jim Fallbrook CA

    The figures check out. However it only slightly higher than in 1982 when the worst president in history was voted out of office. Percentage wise, it was worse in 1982. It seems like the liberal media and journalists forgot about Jimmy Carter's record purposely. They just want to get George W. Bush. Since I was there when Carter was president, I would consider Bush's record to be outstanding compared to Carter.My knowledge of history for that cannot be flawed. I will give one example of Carter's incompetence. The mortgage rates under Carter was 21%. I think even the most left wing liberal would think that is bad. Surely didn't help the poor and middle class!!!!

    January 29, 2009 at 7:43 pm |
  5. jarrod

    the problem with unions is it is not american by any standard what they allow is for a group to go in front of you and wage war against corporations for pay and benifits for them to come back and say you can't keep a cleanwork area because it is not you your job and the fact IS it takes five persons to change one light bulb all this raises the costs of business.............when americans where building this country through barter on fields and craftsmanship you farmed your land, built your goods, made your crafts all on your own and took it market that was the american dream through corporation and government we have lost sight of this and become the america we call today and to over come this we need to adhere to the old days of barter and build a better AMERICAN MADE SOCIETY i am only thirty one my grandfather was born in 1916 and his understanding of making money was through hard work and willingness and until we as a country understand that we don't need all of this income and every evil that is created by this we are going to continue to find ourselves drowning in money that is no good and fighting over essentials of life food, water, shelter the rich will be envious and the poor will be inventive welcome to our new society but as poor people do they will take the newly poor/rich people and help them as they will not us today THOSE POOR PEOPLE ARE MORE RICH AMERICAN TODAY THAN ANY RICH PERSON IS ANY DAY!!!

    January 29, 2009 at 7:08 pm |
  6. Paul Ernest Show

    I strongly believe in this stimulus package. We have to spend to bring back the economy, to life again. After that is achieved, we should then slowly tackle the deficit, incrementally. Inaction is not the solution, as republicans would suggest. No money can be too much to fix an economy like ours, that is linked to world economies, in many ways.
    That is what it would take to create they jobs we all need. What I cannot understand is companies laying off employees because their profit dropped. That is greed, at its worst.

    January 29, 2009 at 6:34 pm |
  7. Tammy, Berwick, LA

    Is there anything happy going on in the nation? Starbucks and Girl Scout cookies. It's bad when the comfort foods and beverages are being impacted. What I haven't seen is a break down on how many of these jobs being cut are full-time positions with salaries and benefits and how many of these jobs are part-time minimum wage positions with little or no benefits. It matters. If hundreds of thousands of full-time professional benefit providing jobs are going down the tubes, I'm going to be a bit more freaked out than I would be by part-time unskilled workers losing jobs. It's the level of severity in the loss that is of importance. If a convenience store clerk loses a job and is forced to get trained for a career in something else that is more permanent and pays more in the long-run, so be it. However, if a whole staff of nurses lose work, we're in a bit more trouble.

    January 29, 2009 at 5:47 pm |
  8. Brandon Greene

    Their is a solution to the enviorment, economy, and creating jobs. But, it might look unethnical to some but i am pretty sure that it will work. If you open up shops to sell and have farmers farm it, you can help get people to be friendly and not fighting, erase some of that debt, use the profit to rebuild the schools, roads, bridges. It would allow the police to focus on finding the murders and it would cut down on the crime rates dramatically. it would even open up new trades with country's that we wouldn't think. It will bring peace to almost everyone and it doesn't have any bad side effects. On top of that, it grows quickly and you can use it to make it into different things. Like rope, paper, food, and clothes. And it will help get people to stop smoking tobacco. sounds to good to be true? It's not. you can get all of this out of just growing a plant called marijuana.

    January 29, 2009 at 5:42 pm |
  9. Sandy

    We have got to get people back to work and they have to have decent paying jobs. Buying from overseas may seem to be cheaper but then we send our money there and they buy things they make at very low wages and only the rich manufacturing owners profit. Our government is suffering, too. If our people do not have jobs they cannot pay payroll taxes, social security taxes, gas taxes, property taxes, etc. We cannot afford to educate our children, improve our infrastructure, or profit in any way. The money we spend on locally made goods comes back locally. The money we spend on foreign goods goes to foreign governments, foreign individuals and the fat cat owners who have transferred their manufactyuring plants overseas to make a bigger buck. I remember the days when everyone everywhere longed for "made in America" goods. There aren't many of those left and what there are we are steadily losing. The term "free trade" is so misleading...it is definitely not free – it is costing us plenty!

    January 29, 2009 at 4:54 pm |
  10. Dianna

    I would like to know why I am on unemployment and am unable to get the stimulus for 2009 it is said by the irs that unemployment is not considered earned income credit. Many of us at this point have no choice but to be on unemployment. The billions of dollars that go out within the year are going to go to the very fortunate people that have held onto there jobs. There are millions of people laid off or cannot find a job due to the lack of employment. So my question is exactly how does the government expect to stimulate the economy when millions and many more expected to be on unemployment do not receive the stimulus payment? If anyone knows how I might go about retrieving this information please respond to this comment. I will be watching.

    January 29, 2009 at 4:28 pm |
  11. Dianna

    The big problem is that everyone relies on someone else in this country whether it be the president, or the government or even your parents. The United States of America does not have the drive or morals that our four fathers once had. We have not caught up to this new era and it is ashame so instead of going backwards we must as a whole find a way to come together and fix what we all as a whole (not bush or anyone person) have done. In this time everyone always finds a way to blame another but the truth is we have known for sometime that there has been problems and we relied on our government to fix it all so now maybe just maybe obama is right he can't do it alone so lets come together and make this right.

    January 29, 2009 at 4:12 pm |
  12. Mary V., Salt Lake City, UT

    I know things are dire, terrible, scary, etc.! But as a 50-something I have seen this before. In the 70's and again in the 80's and early 90's. We have been in deep recessions!

    Even though the media likes to focus on the BAD news, we have over 300,000 million people in our Nation! MOST of us have jobs, pay our mortgage and our bills!

    Folks, WE WILL GET THROUGH THIS! PLEASE DON'T DESPAIR...... KEEP THE HOPE ALIVE.

    January 29, 2009 at 3:16 pm |
  13. patali

    Do you believe i am jobless since February 2008. Applying ..........searching..............applying. I am so frustrated ...... disappointments. ..
    I moved to this country for better living, employment and better health. I worked on Information technology field. From Jan 2008 to now.. I had couple of interviews and that’s it. Vendors are not responding at all.
    Now my husband's job is also almost over (contract). How to pay bills?

    I am getting so much mental tension, loosing confidence and should I look for an entry level job now? Since I am job less for more than 1 year................

    What is going on about Outsourcing issue? I still have some hope if government will do something about outsourcing I will be able to get a IT job here.

    January 29, 2009 at 3:14 pm |
  14. SP

    Corporations should resort to salary cuts rather than job cuts. And salary cuts should be higher at executive levels, than at the floor level. By announcing job cuts, the corporations are reducing the demand for their own goods and services, which will spiral down their sales.

    Job cuts leads to less demand for goods and services, which result in low sales, which results in low profitability for the industry, which results in more job cuts. This is a viscious cycle, and it needs to be broken immediately.

    January 29, 2009 at 2:51 pm |
  15. Cynthia Bautista

    We know that there are plenty of unemployed out there and we sympathize with them. What we don't understand is why there is $6M funding for ACORN in the stimulus bill. I think they should publish the entire bill as is so ordinary citizens like myself can comment. Let us keep them honest!

    January 29, 2009 at 2:40 pm |
  16. Josh

    The stock market "share holders" will always press for the cheapest cost and labor is a cost. There needs to be some better legislation to pertect labor. It will come when enough families go down the drain and people wake up the american spirit. I think the day will be soon. And you ask the pro family republican, how do you live with yourself.

    January 29, 2009 at 2:37 pm |
  17. Gene Penszynski from Vermont

    I wonder how much of caterpillar's manufacturing infrastructure is in COMMUNIST CHINA and if the U.S. government doesn't stop them how much more of it will be going there along with U.S. Taxpayer dollars. I would love to see the Obama administration set an example here and penalize them in some way if they attempt to offsore anything. This would send a message loud and clear that this is not going to be business as 'usual' and that the times they are indeed achangin'.

    January 29, 2009 at 2:02 pm |
  18. Lisa

    Not that I agree by any means with the Dems adding pork to the stimulus bill, but how much is it costing us taxpayers to pay unemployment benefits? Isn't it more important to at least seriously work together to get the jobs stimulus portion of this recovery bill passed?

    If we can get back to work, we can at least try to work with the banks and credit card companies to reduce our payments so that we can stay in our homes and pay our bills, which in turn gives money to the banks to loan and puts money back into the economy.

    January 29, 2009 at 1:59 pm |
  19. andy

    The state governments are not broke-the elected officials are! they are out of ideas-innovations-commnity service can lead to jobs-small business can thrive without capital! nobody wants to step foward in state gov. and say enough is enough! all they want is gimme!-gimmee! rules &laws will be the death of this country- if the people who are wiling to move foward are stopped by people who gave up on this country a long time ago!

    signed andy

    January 29, 2009 at 1:20 pm |
  20. Heather,ca

    If there is one cookie I will buy for the rest of my life its Girl Scout cookies. Once a girl scout always one. Even if its one box for the year, Ill do it.

    Starbucks problem is they expanced to much and now paying five or six bucks for a cup of fancy coffee isnt worth it

    January 29, 2009 at 1:18 pm |
  21. jarrod

    I had to lay my last employee off (ME)

    January 29, 2009 at 1:04 pm |
  22. earle,florida

    Memo:Go to any large shipping port in the United States from Washington State,to California,into the Gulf of Mexico, and around the great peninsula of Florida,up the entire east coast to Maine, and what you'll see is, "Imports off-loading their Capitalist Products onto the American Consumer,with our Exports going out at a ratio of 1:10 as a Socialist By-Product"and you wonder why the unemployment number isn't even higher! Finally,for years the manufactures of cunsumer staples have been lightening up on there packaging by 10%+ as to keep the original price in par with inflation,oops,did I say inflation,my mistake,...?

    January 29, 2009 at 1:04 pm |
  23. elias

    I dont know about the rest of america but i think it would be a good idea for the goverment to have anyone who have a problem with the law to work off their debt to society by helping rebuild america bridges, roads, pipelines, all of them are failing apart. I think it would do tons of justice plus america was build on hard work and good family values. These days its all office jobs and fast food we need tto focus on the things this country was founded on.

    January 29, 2009 at 12:45 pm |
  24. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    The effects of corporate greed are finally effecting Americans-and believe me corporations and industries have an "unquenchable thirst" for greed--it is the time for the "have-nots" to pay for the "haves"---but we will make it through this.

    January 29, 2009 at 12:28 pm |
  25. Michelle

    2009 is off to a rough start. Let's hope things
    get better soon. The economy will not improve
    until the job situation is resolved. With layoffs
    topping more than 100 thou in one week so
    far. I do not think people will want to spend
    money. Remember our economy is 2/3
    consumer generated.

    January 29, 2009 at 12:10 pm |
  26. Emil from St. Louis

    Starbucks and Girl Scout Cookies are one thing, but Oshkosh and Catapiller are two manufacturing giants. Why can't the stimulus package buy Catapiller and keep people at work building bulldozers and heavy equipment. We're going to need them for the infrastructure work they want to do. Ever seen a road or bridge built without heavy equipment? And who will build our military vehicles, China? I am praying for President Obama, but with all the intelligent people we have in this country there have to be some better solutions out here somewhere. I get tired of seeing the same old faces on Capitol Hill everyday using the same tired old lines. We need some fresh thinking.

    January 29, 2009 at 12:06 pm |

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