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by SixFigureStart | May 08, 2009


April gave us a few really warm days here in the Northeast before retreating (big time) back into cool, gloomy weather, and similarly, the recessional climate has thawed a tiny bit as well. The overall unemployment rate crept up from 8.5% to 8.9%, but the pace of job losses has slowed considerably. The BLS calculated the figure at 539,000 -- well off the total for March (663,000, adjusted recently to 699,000) and the one at the recession's peak(?) in January (741,000). Indeed, one need only glance at the Layoff Tracker chart to see some deceleration and note that large-scale job actions are hitting much less frequently.

Some would say that that's because everyone has been laid off already. But there is still plenty of danger ahead, as GM and Chrysler -- each is already several thousand workers lighter than at this point last year -- navigate bankruptcy and/or restructuring. Additional plant closures and Fiat's anticipated pare down of Chrysler's dealer relationships could derail what economic progress we've seen so far. But consumer confidence (and spending) is gradually returning, and the stock market, seemingly fairly stable, is inching its way back up. It will take a couple more months of data to determine if this is a turning point, but even the Wall Street Journal couldn't resist reporting Ben Bernanke's Tuesday address as intimating "the economy is in the early stages of healing." Sounds like a great message for spring.

--Posted by Todd Obolsky, Vault Staff Writer


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