DETROIT — The auto industry is about to go on a hiring spree as car makers and parts suppliers race to find engineers, technicians and factory workers to build the next generation of vehicles.
The new employees will be part of a larger, busier workforce. From coast to coast, the industry is in top gear. Factories are operating at about 95 percent of capacity, and many are already running three shifts. As a result, some auto and parts companies are doing something they’ve been reluctant to consider since the recession: Adding floor space and spending millions of dollars on new equipment.
“We’re really bumping up against the edge,” says Michael Robinet, managing director of IHS Automotive, which forecasts auto production. “So it really is brick-and-mortar time.”
The auto industry’s stepped-up hiring will help sustain the nation’s job growth and help fuel consumer spending. On Friday, the government said U.S. employers added 175,000 jobs in May, roughly the monthly average for the past year and a sign of the economy’s resilience.
At 7.6 percent, U.S. unemployment remains well above the 5 percent to 6 percent typical of a healthy economy. Growth is still modest, in part because of higher taxes and government spending cuts that kicked in this year and weak overseas economies. But the housing market is strengthening, and U.S. consumer confidence has reached a five-year high.
The auto industry’s outlook is bright. Vehicle sales for 2013 could reach 15.5 million, the highest in six years. To meet that demand, automakers must find more people. Hundreds of companies that make parts for automakers have to hire, too, just to keep up.
Bank profits topped $40.3 billion in the first three months of the year, according to the FDIC, attesting to a strong recovery… in the banking sector. “The banks are back,” Moody’s Analytics chief economist Mark Zandi told the Washington Post Wednesday. “Only four years after the banking system was literally looking into the abyss, it is highly profitable again.” The biggest banks, including Wells Fargo, Bank of America and Citigroup, accounted for most of the industry’s profits. Here’s what that looks like, via the Post:
The wider economy hasn’t shared the banking sector’s return to prosperity. Yes, the unemployment rate has dropped a little. Consumer confidence is up. The housing market is healthier. But the current share of the population that is employed is still well below what it was before the recession.
President Obama will sit for interviews with eight local reporters on Wednesday, as he continues to ratchet up his pressure on lawmakers to take action to prevent automatic spending cuts from taking effect on March 1.
“The president will take the case directly to the American people in markets across the country about how their leaders in Congress must act to protect our nation from a self-inflicted wound that would hurt our recovery and the middle class,” the White House said in a statement.
Picking up where he left off Tuesday with a brief speech delivered with first responders joining him on stage, Obama “will make clear that the only reason that these devastating cuts would hit is if congressional Republicans choose to protect loopholes that benefit the wealthy and big corporations rather than compromise to reduce the deficit in balanced way and protect American families.”
The White House sees the interviews as an effective way to reach people across the country who don’t pay much attention to national news but who do keep up with what’s happening in their hometowns. It’s a strategy the White House used throughout the presidential campaign and also employed in December as Obama rallied Americans to support him and to push Republicans to act as the fiscal cliff loomed.
More: Obama to Sit for 8 Local Interviews on Sequester
Here is the meat from his speech yesterday:
I agree with the laser like focus here: this is about Congress doing their damned job and anything else is just distracting blabber. I’m normally a Paul Krugman fan, but I really don’t like the shiny bauble he threw in front of the press because they are just going to obsess over the coin idea now and lose focus of the real story.
I HAD high hopes for the American economy after the Federal Reserve’s policy shake-up in September. It looked to me like a shift in framework that signalled increased tolerance for inflation, one that could potentially allow for a shift up in the trajectory of the recovery. Revisions may vindicate this view, but Friday’s jobs numbers, for the month of November, show an expansion stuck on course. The economy added 146,000 jobs last month. The Bureau of Labour Statistics helpfully noted, “Since the beginning of this year, employment growth has averaged 151,000 per month, about the same as the average monthly job gain of 153,000 in 2011.” Since late 2010, growth in employment and nominal output has been strikingly, impressively, and disappointingly stable.
Will the economy ever manage to do any better? Goldman Sachs economist Jan Hatzius reckons there’s a chance it will turn a corner late next year, provided that Congress doesn’t drive the country back into recession. In an interview with Business Insider’s Joe Weisenthal, he describes his sectoral balances approach to business cycles:
[E]very dollar of government deficits has to be offset with private sector surpluses purely from an accounting standpoint, because one sector’s income is another sector’s spending, so it all has to add up to zero. That’s the starting point. It’s a truism, basically. Where it goes from being a truism and an accounting identity to an economic relationship is once you recognize that cyclical impulses to the economy depend on desired changes in these sector’s financial balances…If the business sector is basically trying to reduce its financial surplus at a more rapid pace than the government is trying to reduce its deficit then you’re getting a net positive impulse to spending which then translates into stronger, higher, more income, and ultimately feeds back into spending.
U.S. homeowners are getting better about keeping up with their mortgage payments, driving the percentage of borrowers who have fallen behind to a three-year low, according to a new report.
Still, the rate of decline remains slow, credit reporting agency TransUnion said Wednesday. The percentage of mortgages going unpaid is unlikely to return anytime soon to where it was before the housing market crashed.
Some 5.49 percent of the nation’s mortgage holders were behind on their payments by 60 days or more in the April-to-June period, the agency said. That’s the lowest level since the first quarter of 2009.
She will be missed until she does comes back.
U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords announced her plans to step down from Congress Jan. 22, 2011.
Transcript of video:
“Arizona is my home, always will be. A lot has happened over the past year. We cannot change that. But I know on the issues we fought for we can change things for the better. Jobs, border security, veterans. We can do so much more by working together. I don’t remember much from that horrible day, but I will never forget the trust you placed in me to be your voice. Thank you for your prayers and for giving me time to recover. I have more work to do on my recovery so to do what is best for Arizona I will step down this week. I’m getting better. Every day, my spirit is high. I will return and we will work together for Arizona and this great country. Thank you very much.”
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DeMint (ed) seems willing to go to the limit to make an economic crisis to stop the weak recovery we are in.
Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) said Wednesday night that Republicans should maintain their hardline position in the debt-ceiling debate even if it results in “serious disruptions” to the economy.
“What I’m advocating here is, let’s use this as a point of leverage, give the president an increase, but don’t come away without real cuts from real caps and spending, and without a balanced budget,” DeMint said on FOX Business Network.
“We’re at the point where there would have to be some, you know, some serious disruptions in order not to raise [the debt ceiling],” he said. “I’m willing to do that.”
The president pushed the economy into “crisis” mode, according to DeMint. He said the president has been “burning time” with the deficit negotiations led by Vice President Biden, when the looming debt ceiling and budget deficit could have been addressed last year.
Gabrielle Giffords Snapped outside the hospital
Two photos of a smiling Rep. Gabrielle Giffords were released early Sunday by her office, her hair shorn short but few other telling signs of her gunshot wound to the head.
The Facebook photos, taken May 17 outside her Houston hospital, are the first clear snapshots of Giffords since the shooting five months ago during a constituent meet-and-greet in a Safeway parking lot in Tucson.
The photos showed how far she has come since she was wounded in the left side of her forehead, but her spokeswoman, Pia Carusone, has cautioned that Giffords still has a long way to go in her recovery.
They show the congresswoman outside, the greenery of the hospital lawn in the background. She smiled directly into the camera in one, while in the other she smiled downward as she sat next t