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CNN Today

January Unemployment Figures Show Mix of Bad, Good News

Aired February 2, 2001 - 2:01 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: For weeks now, we have been hearing about big layoffs at big companies.

Today, January's jobless report shows unemployment lines are getting longer as the days of a worry-free economy grow a bit shorter.

CNN's Brooks Jackson is in Washington with a closer look at the economic picture and who's working and who is not -- Brooks.

BROOKS JACKSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right.

The unemployment rate did go up to 4.2 percent last month. That's a little bit more actually than economists had expected.

Devastation in the manufacturing sector, a loss of 65,000 manufacturing jobs last month. That's a total of more than a quarter of a million since June. A lot of economists think there's a full- blown recession under way right in the manufacturing sector.

But a big surprise in today's numbers, too. Actually, the economy gained more jobs than it lost. The only reason the unemployment rate went up is that nearly half a million new job seekers are in the economy. And the growth just wasn't enough to accommodate all of them, 268,000 jobs.

The average workweek actually increased. That's a positive sign.

And hourly pay remained unchanged, held on to some recent gains.

All of this economic news really puts the economy somewhat in perspective.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JACKSON (voice-over): People losing jobs, clearing out. Corporate layoffs have dominated the headlines for weeks, an almost daily stream of big layoffs and some not so big, all well publicized. And yet without publicity, many companies are still hiring, still growing, creating new jobs.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How can I help you today?

JACKSON: In California, hundreds of vacancies being filled at this one customer service center alone. JIM GALA, WELLS FARGO HOME MORTGAGE: There are currently 725 team members in the San Bernardino site of Wells Fargo Home Mortgage. And at the end of the year, we'll have 1,200 team members.

JACKSON: Those hires are among a total of 1,900 the company plans at locations nationwide. Manufacturing jobs have declined, but service jobs remain plentiful, especially business support.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Any interest in telecommunications?

JACKSON: This personnel agency is hiring office and technical workers in Virginia, Maryland, Washington, D.C., mostly paying $15 to $20 an hour.

STEPHEN SPARKS, SPARKS PERSONNEL SERVICES: Right now, we have in excess of 500, pushing 600, openings as of today.

JACKSON: In Virginia's high-tech corridor, where hundreds of layoffs have been announced, this wireless telecom company started a three-person national sales office just three weeks ago, and they're staffing up.

MATTHEW MILLER, AIRDATA WIMAN: We have five new people coming online first quarter. We have plans for 25 new employees by end of second quarter, with an average of 10 new hires per month by the end of the year.

JACKSON: When one company lays off 1,000 workers, it's news. But when 10 companies hire 100 each, it's not.

SPARKS: Now, at any given moment a company may be laying off. But at the same time, other companies have openings that they're looking to fill.

JACKSON: What counts is the difference between the jobs the economy is losing and those it's creating.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JACKSON: Difference in January was a positive difference; 268,000 jobs, 145,000 of those were in construction. The housing industry still perking along pretty close to record levels.

So the -- putting the economy in perspective, we expect unemployment will increase, keep edging up the rate of unemployment in the coming months.

But most economists are projecting it will level off somewhere between 4 1/2 and 5 percent by the end of the year. That's still very low by historic standards -- Natalie.

ALLEN: So don't be fooled by all the pictures you see in the news of people walking out of their offices with big boxes.

JACKSON: That's right. There're two sides to the story, for sure. ALLEN: All right, Brooks Jackson, we thank you.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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