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US Job Market Improves As Unemployment Falls

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The American job market improved modestly in October and economists looking deeper into the numbers found reasons for optimism , or at least what counts for optimism in this agonizingly slow economic recovery, the Associated Press reports.

The nation added 80,000 jobs. That was fewer than the 100,000 that economists expected, but it was the 13th consecutive month of job gains. Fears of a new recession that loomed over the economy this summer have receded.

The unemployment rate nudged down, to 9 per cent from 9.1 in September.

“Those are pretty good signs,” said Michael Hanson, senior economist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. “We’re hanging in there.”

No one looking at Friday’s report from the Labor Department saw a quick end to the high unemployment that has plagued the nation for three years. The jobless rate has been 9 percent or higher for all but two months since June 2009.

The government uses a survey of mostly large companies and government agencies to determine how many jobs were added or lost each month. It uses a separate survey of households to determine the unemployment rate.

The household survey picked up a much bigger job gain, 277,000 in October, and an average of 335,000 per month for the last three months. The household survey picks up hiring by companies of all sizes, including small businesses.

The household survey is more volatile and less comprehensive than the other survey, and is not followed as closely by economists. Still, job growth in the household survey has not been this strong for three months since the end of 2006.

People counting themselves self-employed increased by 200,000 in October, accounting for most of the increase, but it is difficult for economists to explain the three-month trend.

The job market turned consistently negative in February 2008. The nation lost jobs for 25 months in a row, almost 8.8 million in all. Since then, the economy has only recovered 2.3 million jobs. The adult nonmilitary population has grown 7.5 million.

The Federal Reserve earlier this week lowered its economic forecast for the rest of this year, and said unemployment is not expected to fall significantly through the end of next year. It should still be at 8 per cent even through 2013, the Fed said.

President Barack Obama will almost certainly go before voters next November with the highest unemployment of any sitting president seeking re-election since World War II. The highest so far was Gerald Ford, who faced 7.8 per cent unemployment in 1976 and lost to Jimmy Carter. Ronald Reagan faced 7.2 per cent unemployment in 1984 and beat Walter Mondale in a landslide.

Obama, appearing at the G-20 economic summit in Cannes, France, said the U.S. economy is growing “way too slow.” He repeated his call for Republicans in Congress to pass his $447 billion jobs bill, a mix of tax cuts and spending on roads and rail lines.

“There’s no excuse for inaction,” the president said.

On Thursday, Republicans in the Senate blocked a $60 billion measure for building and repairing infrastructure, the third in a string of defeats for Obama’s jobs agenda. Republicans opposed it because it was tied to a tax surcharge for the wealthy and because they said it cost too much.

Republicans laid blame on Obama and Democrats in Congress for the economy’s problems.

“At virtually every step of the way, President Obama and Democrats have increased uncertainty,” said Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas. “This has discouraged businesses from making new investments.”

Hiring last month was broad. Professional and business services, which include the accounting, engineering and temporary-help industries, added 32,000 jobs. Hotels, restaurants and entertainment companies added 22,000. Health care added 12,000.

The construction industry cut 20,000 jobs for the month, the most since January. That industry is examined closely because a pickup in the housing market could add force to the economic recovery.

The private sector added 104,000 jobs for the month, but state and local governments cut 24,000 jobs, resulting in the net increase of 80,000. State and local governments have cut 288,000 jobs this year. That’s unusual for an economic recovery, when state, local and federal governments typically are hiring workers.

But as the economy recovers and they receive more tax revenue, those layoffs should be limited in the months ahead, said Carl Riccadonna, senior U.S. economist at Deutsche Bank.

The number of discouraged workers, those who have given up looking for work and are no longer counted as unemployed, is down 47,000 from last year, at about 2.55 million. And there were fewer people with part-time jobs who were looking for full-time work, another positive sign.

The economy grew at an annual rate of 2.5 percent in July, August and September, its best performance in a year. In the first half of this year, the economy expanded at the slowest pace since the Great Recession ended in June 2009.

The stronger economy over the summer was powered by consumer spending, which grew three times as fast as it had this spring. Americans spent more even in the face of fears of a new recession and wild gyrations in the stock market.

Still, companies appear to be waiting for customer demand to pick up even more before they hire again in great numbers. People have been dipping into savings to finance their spending, and that may not be sustainable.

Companies learned during and after the recession to live with fewer employees. Worker productivity rose from July through September by the most in a year and a half. More productivity is usually good because companies can pay workers more without raising prices. But workers generally are not getting raises this time.

The Federal Reserve this week lowered its forecast of economic growth to 1.7 percent for this year, down from a forecast of 2.7 percent issued over the summer. It also says unemployment will not come down substantially through the end of 2012.

The economy has absorbed a series of body blows this year.

In the spring, the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan disrupted manufacturing of cars and other products in this country. The price of gas rose to a national average of almost $4 a gallon.

Then in the summer, Washington was seized by gridlock over whether to raise the borrowing limit for the federal government and how best to tackle the nation’s long-term debt problem.

More recently, economists have fretted over a debt crisis in Europe. Europe buys 20 percent of American exports, so a slowdown there would take a bite out of the U.S. economy, too.

The Greek prime minister this week called for a surprise popular vote on a European plan to bail out the debt-addled Greek economy. He later backed down, but even if Greece is stabilized, other European economies are weighed down by debt.

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Eradiri Faults NDDC Leadership Structure Wants Agric As Top Priority

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The Special Adviser to the Sole Administrator of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) on Youths, Udens Eradiri, has faulted the leadership structure of the commission, saying it has not helped the cause of the Niger Delta in the last 25 years.
Describing the leadership structure of the NDDC as faulty, he said that the faulty leadership structure was the reason why President Muhammadu Buhari ordered for a forensic audit in the commission.
Eradiri who is the former president of the Ijaw Youths Council (IYC)
disclosed this while speaking to aviation correspondents, last Friday, shortly on arrival at the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa, from Abuja. 
He said the outcome of the forensic audit would be used to do a wholistic reorganisation of the organogram of the commission.
According to him, the wholistic review of the organogram of the NDDC will help in putting the leadership structure in order, and enable things to function properly.
“The leadership structure of NDDC in the past years had been faulty, and that was why the President said there should be forensic audit, which would be used to do a wholistic review of the organogram of NDDC, so that it can function properly.
“The new board is coming soon, but the whole process will pass through the National Assembly to be cleared”, Eradiri said.
On the achievement of the present NDDC management, the special adviser said that the Effiong Akwa led administration had recorded some landmark achievements compared to the last 25 years. 
He said that the present interim management within two years completed and commissioned the headquarters of the NDDC, which had been left for over 25 years.
He also said that the completion of the East-West road project had intensified under the present management, adding that NDDC has also supported states on sanitation through donation of trucks.
Eradiri, however, admitted that the present interim management had not taken a firm stand on agricultural development even though it has been working with the Central Bank of Nigeria on the Anchor Borrowers Scheme.
“I believe that the only tool to use and get ourselves out of the quagmire we find ourselves is agriculture, and I think that the NDDC can design its own scheme on how to grow agriculture as a deliberate policy.
“This will bring change that will grow the region’s economy. We must talk about agricultural processing, and we can put palm oil into sachet, and even students can be buying them,” he said.

By: Corlins Walter

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Nigeria Lost N851bn To Oil Theft, Sabotage   – NEITI

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Nigeria lost N851.84bn ($2.78bn) to oil theft and pipeline sabotage in 2019, the Nigerian Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (NEITI)   has said.
NEITI said this in its latest oil and gas industry audit report.
NEITI stated that it arrived at the estimate after using an average price of $65.61 per barrel and an average exchange rate of N306.42/$ .
It, however, noted that there was a significant reduction of 21 per cent from the previous year, where 53.28 million barrels were lost.
Losses such as these are recorded by companies whose crude volumes are carried through pipelines easily compromised by saboteurs.
The report also stated that some oil terminals recorded no production. These included Aja operated by Bayelsa Oil, whose license was revoked by the government.
Others were Asaramatoru and Oyo managed by Prime and Allied/CAMAC who were reportedly inactive for the year.
Nigeria earned a total of N10.49tn ($34.22bn) from crude oil and gas sales. This was a marginal 4.88 per cent increase from 2018 revenues of N9.99tn ($32.63bn).
The total crude oil production recorded was 735.24 million barrels, a 4.87per cent increase from 701.10 million barrels reported in 2018.
A total of N2.145tn ($7.011bn) was the domestic sales proceeds in 2019 from 107.24 million barrels of crude oil. This was 0.36 per cent lower than the domestic crude sales of 107.63 million barrels in 2018.

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Residents Task New Council Chairmen On Dev, Agric Policies

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Some residents in the 23 local government areas of Rivers State have urged the newly sworn-in council chairmen in the state to come up with good agricultural and developmental policies that will transform the grassroots.
They also urged the council boss to take pragmatic steps and actions towards tackling security challenges to encourage business activities thrive in their domains. 
Some of the residents who spoke with The Tide at the weekend, noted that the local government administration in the state had not faired well in terms of real development in recent times, and urged the new council helmsmen to change the narratives. 
A resident of Emohua Local Government Area, Mr Charles Amadi, noted that no real development had taken place in the area, lamenting the dearth of companies and small scale industries in the area.
He, therefore, called on the new chairman, Dr. Chidi Lyoid, not to solely depend on the monthly allocation, but to go all out to attract small scale companies to the area so as to create employment opportunities as well as generate revenue for the council.
He also urged the new chairman to invest in agriculture, especially farming and fishing.
On his part, Mr Ebenezer Otamiri who lives in Etche, urged the Etche council boss, Obinna Ayanwu, to consolidate on the achievements recorded in his first tenure, especially by building more markets for the people, as well as initiate good agricultural policy to drive the economy of the area.
He also urged the council boss to tackle the issue of electricity and security in the area, saying electricity and security are key to the development of the area. 
In his own charge, Mr Mene Geoffrey Dekaa who hails from Bori in Khana Local Government Area of the state, called on his new council chairman, Bariere Thomas, to show capacity and competence in the area of security.
He noted that the issue of security has left native imprint in the development of the area, saying many investors have left Bori, the headquarters of the council, for other places.
“Because of security challenges, many people have left Bori to build houses and invest in Nonwa- Tai, and Eleme.
“Areas like Kono-Boweeh communities are no go areas, as people there can hardly sleep. So if the chairman can work with government recognised traditional rulers and security agents, security issues will be tackled, and people’s confidence will be restored, and business activities will move on”, he said.

By: Residents Task New Council Chairmen On Dev, Agric Policies

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