The Economy Today: New Jobs Report

Economic headlines from New Jersey, Minnesota, Maryland, and elsewhere

Jobs continue to disappear, but at a slower rate, The Wall Street Journal reports today, relaying data from the payroll giant Automated Data Processing. Private-sector jobs fell by 371,000 in July, the paper notes. That’s more than expected, but fewer than in June, continuing a trend that began in April. (The Journal has a helpful graphic here). While a slowdown in the pace of job losses is better than an acceleration, it’s still not really good news. And “employment, which usually trails overall economic activity, is likely to decline for at least several more months, albeit at a diminishing rate,” one observer tells the Journal. Official unemployment data will be released tomorrow.

Even after Americans find jobs again, fewer of them will own homes, reports USA Today. According to a University of Utah analysis that provides the foundation of the story, the percentage of homeowners is projected to drop from its peak of nearly 70 percent to 63.5% in 2020 – a level not seen since 1985. Part of the reason for the shift, one analyst says, will be a move away from viewing housing as an investment. Relatedly, The Washington Post reports that the Obama administration is contemplating an overhaul of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored entities that helped drive the increase in homeownership and had to be bailed out when their assets turned toxic.

On the stimulus front, several outlets, including MSNBC, carry a ProPublica report concluding that the distribution of federal dollars bears little relationship to need. Trigg County, Ky., has been awarded more than $2,400 per resident, while LaGrange County, Ind., despite similar circumstances, has drawn only $33 per person (perhaps because all the Indiana money ends up in Elkhart?). And in Texas, Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert blasted the federal government for being too slow to deliver money to major cities, reports the Morning News.

The view is more optimistic in Minnesota, where federal and state officials say the stimulus plan has created more than 2,000 transportation construction jobs, according to The Pioneer Press. And in Maryland, a General Motors plant in White Marsh will get millions in federal funds to develop a rear-wheel drive electric system, The Baltimore Sun reports, though it’s not immediately clear what impact the grant will have on job creation.

Finally, in news that will be shocking to everyone, state auditors in New Jersey have found that the flow of stimulus funds has not always accompanied by the most thorough accounting, reports The Star-Ledger. As a result, there have been “transparency, accountability and grant compliance issues.” There’s no indication that organ trafficking is involved.

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Greg Marx is an associate editor at CJR. Follow him on Twitter @gregamarx.