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Economy Notches Fitful Gains

Wall Street Journal (08/20/12) Conor Dougherty; Ben Casselman

Americans are gaining confidence in the nation’s economy, but remain wary that threats could wipe out recent modest progress after three years of fitful recovery. A stream of encouraging economic data in recent weeks—following a slow start to the second half of the year—has eased recession fears while underscoring the recovery’s uneven pace. The University of Michigan consumer sentiment index increased to 73.6 in its preliminary August reading from 72.3 in July and its highest reading since May. Job growth picked up in July and layoffs have eased after a spring spike. Exports—big contributors to the recovery thus far—have remained surprisingly resilient despite recession in Europe and slowing growth in Asia.

The recent signs of an improving outlook could complicate a coming decision for the U.S. Federal Reserve. Officials at the central bank have been concerned for months that the economy is growing too slowly to bring down unemployment. They signaled strongly early this month that they were leaning toward taking new actions to spur growth. With the economy showing signs of picking up on its own, some Fed officials might be more reluctant to move, though the data likely have not picked up enough or for a long enough period to dramatically alter the views of most officials about the outlook.

Unemployment Rate Rises in 44 States in July

Associated Press (08/17/12)

With only 150,000 new jobs added per month on average, the national unemployment rate bumped up to 8.3% in July from 8.2% in June. The U.S. Department of Labor reports that 44 states saw increases in their unemployment rates in July, marking the largest number of states in more than three years to post a monthly jump in jobless rates. These states include nine that are considered battleground states in the upcoming presidential election, such as Nevada, where the unemployment rate climbed from 11.6% in June to 12% in July but remains under the 13.8% rate it hit a year ago, and Florida, where the rate edged up from 8.6% in June to 8.8% in July. However, unemployment rates in some battleground states could fall in the near future due to significant increases in new jobs, with Michigan and Virginia adding 21,800 and 21,300 new jobs, respectively.

Leaks in Jobs Pipeline for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, but SeatonCorp Comes Through

Chicago Tribune (08/19/12) Kathy Bergen; Kristen Mack; Wailin Wong

A Chicago Tribune review of job announcements from Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel indicates the jobs pipeline may not be quite as robust as his pronouncements would indicate. Emanuel’s office says eight companies have committed to moving their corporate or regional headquarters to Chicago and 28 companies have expanding there, adding about 20,000 jobs in a little more than a year in office. But the Tribune review found that while about 60% of those job pledges are for new positions, the remainder likely will be transfers from outside the city, and many firms are having difficulty meeting the goals announced by the mayor’s office.

Among the handful of companies that are reaching their goals is staffing company SeatonCorp. SeatonCorp’s chief executive, Patrick Beharelle, says he reached out to the mayor’s camp to see if Emanuel would be willing to attend a celebration that recognized the company as a top job creator among privately held U.S. companies. It was only when Beharelle later shared that the company planned to hire 400 recruiters, accountants, finance, and information technology staffers in Chicago that Emanuel agreed to make an appearance.

On Assignment Inc. to Transfer Stock Exchange Listing to NYSE

On Assignment Inc. News Release (08/20/12)

On Assignment Inc. announced today that it will transfer the listing of its common stock to the New York Stock Exchange from the NASDAQ Stock Market. The company expects to begin trading on the NYSE on Aug. 31, using its current symbol “ASGN” and will continue to trade on NASDAQ until the transfer takes place.