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Bad news and good news

OK, OK, I’ll give you the bad news first.

Unemployment statistics for the entire U.S. were released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor, and the news was even worse than predicted. “Nonfarm payroll employment fell sharply in January (-598,000) and the unemployment rate rose from 7.2 to 7.6 percent…” according to the report. The report went on to say, “Payroll employment has declined by 3.6 million since the start of the recession in December 2007; about one-half of this decline occurred in the past 3 months. In January, job losses were large and widespread across nearly all major industry sectors.”

The report further stated, “The number of persons who worked part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) was essentially unchanged in January at 7.8 million; however, this measure was up by 3.1 million over the past 12 months. Included in this category are persons who would like to work full time but were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find full-time jobs. About 2.1 million persons (not seasonally adjusted) were marginally attached to the labor force in January, about 400,000 more than 12 months earlier. These individuals wanted and were available for work and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey. Among the marginally attached, there were 734,000 discouraged workers in January, up by about 270,000 from a year earlier.  Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them.”

CNN reported that the job loss in January was the worst in 34 years. Meanwhile, the U.S. Senate has reportedly reached a deal on an economic stimulus package and is expected to vote on it sometime tonight. The agreement in the Senate will still have to be aligned with the House version in conference committee once passed. The partisan politics had one Senator, Susan Collins (Republican, Maine) quoting Yogi Berra (“It’s not over ’til it’s over.”), according to CNN. The reconciliation with the House version should be exciting too, since partisan politics might be expected to resemble those we see in Sacramento.

What is the GOOD news, you ask? (Other than that unemployment is a “trailing indicator…?”)

It is RAINING in California (snowing in the mountains), for over a day, with more rains expected intermittently over the next four or five days. No, Californians don’t know how to drive in the rain. I heard radio reports, on the way home, about two cars that had rolled over in two different places. (Hint: SLOW DOWN!) Rain may not help the unemployment in California, but it may help us avoid water rationing later in the year.

Right now, we will take any rain that comes our way.

(Note added February 15, 2009: Since I wrote this article, a series of “rain events” :-) have continued (with “dry spells” in between, to lessen the chances of flooding) across the Bay Area, even through today and forecast for next week. With luck, we may even reach “normal” rainfalls for the year. With even more luck, we may make up for the two dry years before this one. Wish us luck.)

(Note added February 17, 2009: It is still raining! Someone did a great job with wishing us good luck! We can still use more water.)

(Note added February 22, 2009: It is still raining in my part of California. The North Bay needed more water and should receive the most rain from this “storm.”)

(Note added March 2, 2009: After a couple of days to “dry out,” northern California is again receiving a series of rains [these things come in like the arms of a pinwheel with the hub being the center of a low-pressure area]. After seeing all of the snow in the eastern parts of the U.S., I am delighted to be here! The water situation is improving, too, but it is difficult to make up for the two previous dry years.)

-Bill at Cheshire Cat Photo™

You can view higher-resolution photos (*generally* 7-30 megabytes, compressed) at the Cheshire Cat Photo™ Pro Gallery on Shutterfly™, where you can also order prints and gifts decorated with the photos of your choice from the gallery. Apparel and other gifts decorated with some of our most popular photos can be ordered from the Cheshire Cat Photo™ Store on CafePress®. Both Shutterfly™ and CafePress® ship to most international locations worldwide! If you don’t see what you want or would like to receive an email when new photos are up on the site, send us an email at

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