This Good News Just Got “Real”: 203,000 Jobs in November, Participation Rate Increases

The Labor Department’s Jobs Report released this morning indicates 203,000 new jobs and the unemployment rate is at 7.0%.  Revisions to previous reports were mild (-1.9% in October, +7.4% in September).  Sectors like transportation and warehousing, healthcare and manufacturing added the most jobs (which is a nice departure from the retail and hospitality gains in the past).  Also, people are throwing a Taper Tantrum over the participation rate: it grew! (from 62.8% to 63%)  Then again, this doesn’t really help: The Commerce Department is reporting that consumer spending made slight gains in October (0.2%, even though hours and earnings are up) but inflation was mute.  In fact, over the past 12 months prices have risen 0.7%, the smallest increase since October 2009.  However, consumer sentiment jumped up pretty high in December to 82.5 from 75.1 at the end of November.  Interestingly enough, “all of the improvement was among households from incomes below $75,000, with upper income households showing no gain from last month’s reading.”  Seems like a possible correlation to the Black Friday/Thanks-Purchase-Then-Giving Walmart shoppers crowd who are likely to be in this category as well.  Sentiment towards both current and expected economic conditions was high.

Income Inequality and Higher Education

Earlier this week, President Obama made a speech about income inequality in America, calling it the “defining challenge of our time” and even saying that “it drives everything I do in this office.”  Just so, The Congressional Budget Office has released a report predicting that the wealthiest 1% of Americans are actually earning less and paying more in taxes in 2013.  The President might want to consider, however, the connection between education and incomes in the United States: “nearly 70 percent of Americans at the bottom end of the income scale have a high school degree or less, while just 10 percent have a college degree or more…At the top end of the income scale, nearly 80 percent of high-income households have a bachelor’s degree or higher, while less than 10 percent have only a high school diploma.”  Meanwhile, Governor Christie is making it harder for undocumented immigrants to go to college.  But hey, if a 10 year old can do it?

CVX: Chevron’s $6.4 Billion China Gas Project Pushed Back Again

Chevron’s Chuandongbei project won’t produce gas until the second half of 2014 thanks to disagreements with PetroChina over how to develop the oil fields.  Chuandongbei’s natural gas fields contain high levels of hydrogen sulphide, thus dubbed a “sour gas” development.  And since a sour gas blowout in 2003 turned the local Chinese countryside into “a lethal zone, killing 243 people and poisoning thousands as they slept or scrambled to escape a toxic cloud of hydrogen sulphide,” let’s just say people are taking their time with this one.

Global: Battered Gold Miners Take Another Look at Hedging

“Barrick Gold Corp. has signaled a potentially titanic shift in the gold-mining industry: a second look at hedging.”  Which is significant since a change in the hedging practices of gold producers means they are anticipating changes in the gold market.  The price of gold has decreased about 26% in 2013.  John Thornton, the next chairman at Barrick and former President of Goldman Sachs says “hedging isn’t a dirty word.”  That’s nice.

Boeing: Bidders Dangle Goodies to Win 777X Jetliner

“Boeing has requested proposals for the jetliner program from more than a dozen states after the unionized machinists in Washington state last month roundly rejected a labor contract that would have guaranteed the plane was built there.”  South Carolina, Alabama, California and Georgia are all stepping up to claim Washington’s prize.  A leaked copy of Boeing’s bid request suggests that they are preparing to “spend up to $10 billion on a new, 4.2 million-square-foot factory, and wants to be near rail, highway, air and sea ports.  It also wants land for free or at a very low cost.”

Happy Friday: What Detroit Really Needs Is More Graffiti

Fed: The Federal Reserve’s New Website

Showing off your brand new fully functional federal agency website, huh?  Touché, Federal Reserve.

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