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Economy Remains Strong Despite LayoffsAired February 2, 2001 - 4:06 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: After a week's worth of money news that included an interest rate drop, reports indicating a dramatic slowdown in the economy and major layoffs at some of the country's best-known companies many thought today's unemployment numbers would add to fears of a recession.
And on the surface, that might seem to be the case, but CNN's Brooks Jackson shows us there's more to see to get the complete picture.
BROOKS JACKSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For weeks the news has been of people losing jobs, clearing out, any almost daily stream of layoffs big and small, many well publicized. So it was no surprise that the unemployment rate increased last month, up 2/10 of a point to 4.2 percent. But it was a big surprise that the economy grew; 268,000 jobs gained, the strongest increase since last April, and triple the increase economists had been expecting.
The fact is, many companies are still hiring, still growing. Among them, glassmaker Corning in upstate New York.
PAMELA SCHNEIDER, HUMAN RESOURCES, CORNING: We certainly plan to have a fair amount of hiring this year.
JACKSON: Corning plans to hire 2,000 people this year, as many as 800 at this fiber-optic location alone.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How can I help you today?
JACKSON: Across the country in California, hundreds more vacancies are being filled at this mortgage customer service center.
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: The company is hiring a total of 1,900 people at locations nationwide. Manufacturing jobs have declined: 65,000 jobs lost last month; more than 1/4 million jobs lost since June. Many economists say that sector is in recession, but service jobs remain plentiful, especially business support. But home building remains hot, only a little below record levels. Construction gained 145,000 jobs in January, though that number may be inflated some by unusual weather. There were other job gains in retail, finance, insurance, real estate.
This personnel agency is hiring office and textile workers in Virginia, Maryland, Washington, D.C., mostly paying $15-$20 an hour.
STEPHEN SPARKS, SPARKS PERSONNEL SERVICES: Right now, we have in excess of 500, pushing 600, openings as of today.
JACKSON: Even within specific sectors, some gain while others lose. This wireless telecom company is staffing up a national sales office in Virginia's high-tech corridor where other companies have announced hundreds of layoffs.
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 (on camera): Another surprise in today's figures: The average workweek increased and average hourly pay remained unchanged, holding on to recent gains. So despite all the layoffs, the economy still has surprising strength.
Brooks Jackson, CNN, Washington.
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