First-time unemployment claims continue to increase at a faster pace than expected. “The Labor Department said the number of claims in the week ending July 25 rose by 25,000 from an upwardly revised figure the previous week,” the Agence France Press reported July 30.
Though data shows that the U.S. economy only shrank at a one-percent annual rate during the second quarter of the 2009 calendar year, according to “preliminary” data released July 31 by the U.S. Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), that number may be unrealistically low, owing to government involvement in the markets.
Just call it irony. The same day the value of the dollar plunged to a current-year low as measured against six other major currencies, and the same week in which the U.S. Treasury is in the midst of a record $106 billion debt auction, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke fielded a question on PBS’s “News Hour” from a man who touched on the problem:
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke must know he’s in trouble. This week he completed a “town hall”-style meeting for PBS television to promote the Federal Reserve and suppress what appears to be overwhelming congressional support for an independent audit of the Fed.
In another example of turning lemonade into lemons in economically troubled times, the federal minimum wage increased yesterday from $6.55 an hour to $7.25 an hour. It's certainly a fashionable measure, but will it actually improve the lot of low-income workers?