Trading Places

Inside views on the jobs market

from Neil Collins:

An unexpected bonus for National Statistics

"Mr Deputy Speaker, the UK economy contracted by 1.6 per cent in the last quarter of 2008. For the first quarter of this year, I expect the economy will again contract by a similar amount."

 Thus spake poor old Alistair Darling at lunchtime on Wedesday. Less than 48 hours later, the first (of many) of his Budget forecasts was proved wrong, as UK National Statistics reported that the economy shrank by 1.9 per cent in the first quarter.

This difference is a little matter of 4.5 billion pounds, and it makes his forecast of minus 3.5 per cent for this year look even less plausible.

Still, there's a certain grim satisfaction over at National Statistics. It proves that the accusations of ministers being allowed to see the figures before publication, to spin them they way they want, are unfounded. It's an ill wind...

from UK News:

Punters cash in on Darling’s budget tie choice

Smokers and top earners were clear losers in Britain's budget this year, as the government hiked taxes on cigarettes and the highest incomes.


But a lucky few must have been cheering in front of their televisions during the 51-minute speech.

from DealZone:

Investors long for UBS happy end

Die-hard UBS investors who have stayed with the bank through thick and thin are hoping new boss Oswald Gruebel (sitting) will return the Swiss icon to its former splendour thanks to a bitter medicine of thousands of new layoffs and heavy cost cuts announced on Wednesday.

But their patience is running out.

ubs"The only reason why we are still with UBS is because hope dies last. But if this carries on, we will not tolerate it anymore," said Blandina Heyne, a UBS investor for seven years, as she and her husband came to attend the bank's annual general meeting in Zurich.

RBS to cut up to 9,000 jobs


The idea that a job in the government is a safe place to ride out a recession clearly doesn’t hold if you’re working for a government-owned bank. Royal Bank of Scotland, which was largely nationalized following a bailout by the British government, warned it would cut up to 9,000 job cuts over the next two years. If you’re among the people who might be affected by the news we reported here, let us know the reaction to the announcement where you work.

Unemployment jumps, but is the economy finding its floor?


Markets might have rallied on relief that the jobs data this morning wasn’t worse than expected, but there’s no getting away from the fact that an 8.5 percent unemployment rate is an ugly number. The March jobs figures showed U.S. employers slashed 663,000 jobs in March. The unemployment rate was the highest since 1983. Here is some reaction from the market:

“It’s telling you we’re in a deep recession and it’s still going to be a while to get out of it, especially on the employment side of things. But you have to keep in mind that this is a lagging indicator, we’re going to get bad employment numbers, along with the employment rate, even if the economy is starting to turn.”

IBM cutting jobs … quietly


There’s been no official announcement but our sources tell us that IBM will cut about 5,000 jobs in the United States. The move adds similarly large cuts in the past few months, the sources said. The job cuts will account for over 4 percent of IBM’s U.S. workforce and will mostly be in IBM’s global services business, which includes outsourcing and consulting services.

An IBM spokesman declined to comment but readers close to the story are welcome to do so below.

from MediaFile:

Sound familiar? McClatchy cutting jobs

These have been a couple of ugly weeks for the newspaper industry. First, EW Scripps pulled the plug on the Rocky Mountain News, and then, today, McClatchy said it was cutting about 1,600 jobs, representing 15 percent of its workforce.

For those who like to look at the bright side of things, McClatchy isn't shutting down The Miami Herald, Sacramento Bee or Anchorage Daily News. But the staff cuts are deep and undoubtedly will hurt  the quality and depth of coverage at some of those newspapers. How couldn't they? After all, they come on top of two other major rounds of layoffs at McClatchy.

from Shop Talk:

Free resumes from FedEx Office

resumeNeed we say more?

On March 10, the company that bought copy shop Kinko's will print 25 free resumes on high-quality paper when customers stop in at any of the 1,600-plus FedEx Office Print and Ship Centers in the United States.

"We understand that the economy has affected many people in a very profound way, and we want to help," Brian Philips, president and CEO of FedEx Office, told Reuters. "In January, nearly 600,000 people found themselves out of work. I understand that in February, by the time they add up the numbers, it could be worse."

HSBC’s local knowledge: not so good in U.S.?


HSBC, whose advertisements play on how one image can have different meanings in different cultures, appears to have settled on a single view of the U.S. consumer: you’re not worth the risk. The global bank, whose billboards proclaim the importance of local knowledge, said it would shut most of its U.S. consumer lending business with the loss of 6,100 jobs.

“With the benefit of hindsight, this is an acquisition we wish we had not undertaken,” HSBC Chairman Stephen Green said of its 2003 acquisition of Household, which was renamed HSBC Finance.

You’re fired — and you owe us money


Taking back banker bonuses — known as “clawbacks” — has been mooted in the U.S. bailout of the financial industry, but Microsoft briefly broke some new ground this week by introducing the concept to severance payments.

Citing an accounting error, Microsoft notified laid off employees that they would need to give back part of their severance pay. The company graciously offered to accept either checks or money orders.